The Problem with AFP Forms…
Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion on AFP forms—and whether or not you should replace them. The cause of this discussion? IBM recently announced that they would be discontinuing support for AFP utilities (which are used to create AFP forms). This is only applicable for IBM i 7.3 (and future IBM i versions), but it is nevertheless a good time to start thinking about your AFP forms replacement.
That said, there’s a misconception that replacing AFP forms means throwing away your existing technology. And that’s simply not true. With the right solution—like Webdocs Creation & Delivery from HelpSystems—you won’t have to rip out and replace your forms overnight. In fact, both Webdocs Creation & Delivery and your AFP forms can run harmoniously.
The Problem(s) with AFP
Problem #1: Manual Form Design
The process for creating AFP forms is highly manual. In fact, you need to create a document, export it, manually convert it to a form overlay, and print it using an RPG program on IBM i. Repeating this process over and over again would give anyone a headache. And if you need to make changes to a form, it involves further manual steps.
Problem #2: AFP Knowledge Depletion
AFP forms typically need to be created by RPG developers. However, the older generation is moving on to new roles or even retiring. The incoming workforce doesn’t have the same RPG programming skillset. They expect the software to be modern and involve visual design. And they don’t want go through manual effort to create a form.
Problem #3: Future Lack of Support for AFP
The writing is on the wall for AFP forms. IBM is dropping support for AFP utilities in IBM i 7.3. If IBM isn’t putting resources into AFP, you should also be rethinking your AFP forms.
What to Look for in an AFP Replacement
Your AFP replacement should be able to give you both modern forms design functionality and the ability to still use your existing AFP forms.
Look for a replacement that delivers:
- Simple forms design from beginning to end (no programming required)
- Form versions that are easy to manage
- Seamless transition from AFP
- Option to use spooled files
- Ability to create dynamic orders and invoices
- Quick process for creating letters and shipping labels
Before you move to IBM i 7.3 (or beyond), you should have a plan for replacing AFP forms. Remember: you don’t need to rip out and replace your forms overnight. With the right solution, you’ll be able to implement modern forms—like Webdocs Creation & Delivery—and still access and reference existing AFP forms.
Looking for more information on replacing AFP forms? Check out our recent webinar How to Get Started Replacing AFP Forms.