We have finished the code updates and changes to the FTP Manager product. The biggest changes have been in the FTP Client interface which to be honest was pretty clunky originally. The Security Manager part of the product hasn’t changed that much, but we have added a few changes which should make the product more user friendly such as a log viewer and better interfaces to the security programs.
As we had been working on updating the RAP product to support CCSID’s other than 37, we decided to bring the same technology into the FTP Client, originally we had simply used a conversion table of our own to carry out the ASCII to EBCID translations. The new technology is hopefully a lot smarter and now uses the iconv() functionality to bring about the conversions. I have to say ,we did struggle with the iconv() function at first with a lot of hung sessions and blank screens, even trying to use the debugger to identify the problem ended up with hung sessions. Eventually we tracked down the problem which seems to be related to the table generation and how we tried to pass it between functions? I say seems because we simply moved the table generation into the same function as we used it in and everything started to work.. We will try to go back to generating the tables in a global manner later.
The FTP Client was the biggest gainer in terms of functionality and updates, a couple of things which had to be changed were the need to always go back to the connection panel before displaying the local or remote directories. Now F7 will show the local directory and F8 will show the Remote directory from any screen as long as the connection has been made. On connection we also show the remote directory up front so you can see the contents immediately. Another problem we corrected was the use of option 3 to change the directory on either system, taking the WRKLNK functionality as the base we decided that option 5 would be the correct way to change directories as well as display the file if a file was selected.
We looked at how the PC type FTP clients worked and decided that the ability to view a remote file locally would be a nice addition. Editing a local file is also possible, however we do not do any conversions of the data to be displayed, but simply use the EDTF functionality provided by the OS. As the Client is shipped with the FTP Manager it is also tied into the security side of the product. Any activity from the FTP Server, the IBM FTP Client or the FTP Manager Client can be logged through the logging facility automatically. This is something we feel is important where data protection is required, you have full control over the process plus an accurate record of who did what and when.
Our initial reason for updating the product and preparing it for shipment was to develop our Looksoftware skills, the product will be our first attempt to modernize an application interface using the Looksoftware product suite. We feel the new look and feel will greatly enhance the products appeal plus give us the ability to provide tighter integration with other data streams and applications.
Using the IBM provided FTP client interface is worse than using the DOS FTP interface, trying to list the local and remote directories can be a real nightmare especially of you don’t use the Client a lot.. We usually resort to using a PC based solution and use the PC as an intermediary step between the originating system and the IBM ‘i’. This became a problem recently which took us hours to work our what was going wrong. We had been developing the new ASCII to EBCDIC conversion routines when we realized we had completely changed the module used for all of the FTP connectivity. We needed to get an earlier copy back just in case we needed to revert to the old method and then move forward again.
Our systems do a nightly save off to a Virtual image which is then copied out to our Linux Server. The previous evenings save had been canceled mid way due to a timing issue (we were working very late!) this left the images corrupted and unusable so we had to get the previous nights copy back to restore the files we needed. Using the PC based solution we transferred the 4GB of saved data back to the IBM ‘i’ via the PC and attached it to the Image catalog. The Virtual Optical drive refused to vary on stating the images were all corrupted and unusable! after 4 or 5 retries at transferring the data back to the IBM via the PC we took a look at the actual images in comparison to others on our second system. The CCSID on the newly transferred images was 819 where as the images that worked on the other system were 37. Changing the CCSID attribute still left the images in an un-mountable state (the catalog images would mount to the catalog but the catalog would not mount to the virtual optical drive).
FTP Manager came to the rescue, we used the new client to transfer the objects directly from the Linux system to the IBM ‘i’ system, they mounted immediately after being imported and the files were able to be restored successfully. I did try to find a way of telling the PC client we need to transfer the data as CCSID 37, but unfortunately it has no settings which would allow this? Somehow the FTP server was seeing the data coming from the PC as PC data and setting the CCSID accordingly.
We will publish more information about the full product on our website as we move things forward, but in the meantime here are a couple of screen shots of the product in action. We used the product to connect to our Linux server as well as our other IBM ‘i’ system for the trials to show the natural conversion of ASCII data into EBCDIC data when viewing file content.
This is the site list which is presented on starting up the FTP client, all information about the connection is stored by user name, this ensures the links created by one person are not viewable by others. The passwords are all stored in an encrypted form and decrypted before being sent to the remote FTP Server.
The next couple of images show the local and remote directories, flipping between images is achieved by pressing F7(Local) or F8 (Remote) depending on which screen is currently shown. No need to go back to the connection panel to go to the other system listing!
The next set of images show the ability to edit the Local file or display the Local or Remote file. Only options which are valid for the respective location will be shown. you can also display the details of Local or Remote Directories and Objects.
Finally we have a few shots of the logs provided by FTP Manager Client. The first is the Client log which is only shown while a session is active. The second one is of the FTP Manager Log which logs all activity carried out by the local FTP server or Clients including the FTP Manager Client.
If you be interested in seeing the product give us a call, we hope to have it available for download soon.