Operate 5250 applications programmatically

aXes-Robot is an application programming interface (API) that developers use to write applications that automatically operate 5250 screen-based applications written with RPG or COBOL. The applications use aXes-Robot APIs to simulate the actions of a person entering data on screens in a 5250 application. This feature makes it possible to integrate existing 5250 applications with .NET, Java or other 5250 applications.

aXes-Robot API

aXes-Robot caters for a wide range of programming options with three versions of the API:

  • .NET API for Windows
  • Java API for IBM i and Windows
  • RPG API for IBM i

The .NET version of the aXes-Robot API is written completely in managed code, the Java version is written in Java and the RPG version is a wrapper around the aXes-Robot Java API. No version of the aXes-Robot API requires or uses ActiveX controls.

aXes-Robot has no user interface. You write the applications that manage the user interface and interact with 5250 applications using an aXes-Robot API.

Developers need to have experience coding with .NET, Java and/or RPG programming languages to be able to use aXes-Robot.

Examples of how to use aXes-Robot

The following examples illustrate how developers can write applications using C#, Java or RPG and take advantage of the aXes-Robot APIs.

Automate data entry

Using aXes-Robot, developers can write applications that mimic data entry operators.

In this example, order data comes from a file and developers use the aXes-Robot RPG API with an RPG application to automate data entry tasks that take order data from the file into a 5250 application.

Perform automated data entry for 5250 applications with RPG applications and aXes-Robot.
Perform automated data entry for 5250 applications with RPG applications and aXes-Robot.

The RPG application takes the order data from the file and uses the aXes-Robot RPG API to enter the order data into a 5250 application (e.g. an ERP system). aXes-Robot simulates a data entry operator manipulating the screens in the 5250 application to update the database.

Use a Web service to retrieve data from a 5250 application

This example shows how to use a Web service to retrieve data that is tightly coupled with a 5250 application and therefore inaccessible to other applications.

An ASP .NET Web site uses a 5250 application as its data source via aXes-Robot.
A C# .NET application uses a Web service to retrieve data from a database.

Developers can write a Java program as a Web service that programmatically controls a 5250 application to retrieve a list of orders, reformat the order data and make the data available to a C# .NET application. The Java Web service uses the aXes-Robot Java API to simulate an operator using screens for displaying a list of orders for a specific customer from a 5250 application, and then retrieving order details from the list. To the 5250 application, aXes-Robot appears to be a user entering data into screens. The C# .NET application uses the Web service to request a list of orders and the details of an order.

Use a 5250 application from your ASP .NET Web site

You can use aXes-Robot directly from your ASP .NET Web site and interact with a 5250 application to retrieve and update data.

A C# .NET application uses a Web service to retrieve data from a database.
An ASP .NET Web site uses a 5250 application as its data source via aXes-Robot.

Developers can write the C# code for forms that collect data from users of an ASP.NET Web site. The users interact with the Web site using the forms and the C# code behind the Web site uses the aXes-Robot .NET API to retrieve, insert and update the data.

Why use aXes-Robot?

aXes-Robot provides an automated way to get data into or out of 5250 applications without changing the 5250 application. This means that new applications can integrate with and operate a 5250 application when the source code is unavailable.

Use aXes-Robot to automate data entry tasks

Data entry is fundamental to business operation, but it can be costly when data entry operators perform the work. Companies have tried to reduce costs by delegating data entry work to customers by using forms on Web sites and to suppliers by implementing electronic data exchanges. These measures will be effective only when companies automate data entry tasks by transferring data into 5250 applications without human intervention. aXes-Robot removes the need for data entry operators to print data from files and then re-key the data into a 5250 application.

Integrate existing 5250 applications directly into new applications

One challenge faced by CIOs is integrating existing 5250 applications with new applications. The technical difficulties of integration increase with the age and complexity of changing 5250 applications. The challenge becomes insurmountable without source code for a 5250 application. aXes-Robot provides an integration interface that allows new applications to use 5250 applications to retrieve data and/or update data and aXes-Robot does not need the source code.

Use 5250 applications to provide data to other applications

Existing 5250 applications contain business logic and business rules that ensure the integrity of data in their databases. These applications can become sources of data for new applications by using aXes-Robot to for both data retrieval and data maintenance programmatically. Companies retain the functionality of their 5250 applications while serving the data needs of new applications, regardless of the computing platform that supports the new application.

Benefits

The benefits of aXes-Robot are:

  • Operating 5250 applications programmatically allows you to automate business processes and remove human intervention in the process.
  • Removing human intervention in data entry tasks reduces the rate of errors and the need for re-keying.
  • Reduce costs by processing orders electronically and automatically, thereby removing the need for data entry operators to print orders and re-key them.
  • There is no need to change the 5250 applications – an important consideration when you do not have the source code.
  • Use the business functionality in older 5250 applications with new applications without having to upgrade the 5250 applications or the hardware platforms.
  • The capability of each API version of aXes-Robot offers a choice of platform for new applications.
  • aXes-Robot requires no hardware or software upgrades.

Features

  • .NET API for Windows for use by .NET developers
  • Java API for IBM i and Windows for use by Java developers
  • RPG API for IBM i for use by RPG and COBOL developers
  • .NET API is written in managed code and does not use any ActiveX controls
  • Logging for screen captures
  • Logging for exceptions, communications with the aXes server, and your messages

Platform requirements

The following must be installed on the machine running the API:

  • aXes API for .NET requires .NET Framework 2.0 or higher
  • aXes API for Java requires Java 5.0 or higher
  • aXes API for RPG requires V5R3 + Java 5.0 or higher
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