Article

How-To: Get Started with Mobile Data Access

IBM i
Posted:
June 27, 2016

Mobile device use is increasing across organizations. In many offices, business users would like to use their mobile devices for data access—or they’re required to.

However, there are technology concerns when it comes to the use of mobile devices, PCs, tablets, and smartphones. First, there’s security. Will unauthorized users be able to see the data? Then, there’s time. How long will it take to deploy the data through a browser? Plus, there’s the effort. How much work will IT have to put in to deliver mobile data access? And how long will it take business users to learn it? Finally, there’s cost. When will you get a useful ROI on your mobile data access project?

Sequel Web Interface (SWI) offers a simple solution to organizations who want or need to make the leap to browser data deployment. It’s secure, quick and easy to implement, and delivers rapid ROI.

Data Access—Without Loading PC Software

Everyone knows how to use a browser. Thus, deploying your business information through a browser is the better way to deliver it—especially to non-technical users.

Every mobile device has a browser. It may be Microsoft Internet Explorer (a.k.a. IE), Mozilla Firefox, or Safari. It’s a common practice for among many organizations to use software applications with a browser front-end. People Simply put: it’s easier to use a browser than navigate individual software applications.

Data access, too, is available via a browser for Sequel users with SWI.

Getting business users started is easy: Simply provide a shortcut link directly to the Sequel object or access to a Sequel Web Interface Explorer (below). 

The business user then has access to the Sequel objects that he or she needs to run. With no additional software to install or maintain, IT team members are then free to tackle larger tasks while business users can dive right into their data analysis.

Once created and saved with Sequel ViewPoint, our PC GUI design tool, your Sequel objects will be available to run from a browser. This means less work for IT and faster access for business users.

There are two Sequel Web Explorers that can be used. SWI uses an instance of the Apache server on the IBM i. This uses a direct URL link to a port that is configured when you install or upgrade. The other option for Sequel users is Sequel Web Server (SWS), which uses the Tomcat server on the IBM i. The URL directs the user to a server.

SWS can connect to multiple IBM i systems, but using the Tomcat server tends to be faster. From a user’s stand point, there is very little noticeable difference between SWI and SWS—except the advantage of Sequel Client Tables are interactive in a SWS.

Implement Security and Administration Options

When users access Sequel objects with their browser—whether with a link or through one of the Sequel Web Explorers—the same IBM i authorization assigned to the objects carries to SWI and SWS. Only users allowed to run an object will be allowed using this browser.

The same is true for authorization setup in Sequel whether with Database Security (library/file/field levels) or Advanced Database Security (row level). See the ViewPoint Administrator Guide for more on setting up these levels of security.

When SWS is utilized for deployment, the Administrator can also control (by user ID) whether a user is allowed to select the options on the toolbar (below). Any of the options can be blocked or allowed using the ViewPoint Administrator, SWI Function Authorization option. Again, see the ViewPoint Administrator Guide for more detauks on setting up these options. 

Empower Users

There are many ways to empower your users with mobile data access. The most direct is deploying Views with run-time prompts empowers the users by letting them select the data they need when they need it. They no longer have to request and wait for the data from IT. 

Sequel can have many derived or calculated fields in the View results. This can empower the user as they no longer need to dump the data to another source, like an Excel sheet.

Some of the more common functions used in derived field:

  • CVTDATE - Convert a field to a true date data type field
  • CASE-WHEN-THEN-ELSE – Conditional logic in a field
  • SST – Substring extract part of a character field to make a new field
  • CAT – Concatenation used to combine character fields into a new field
  • DECIMAL – Cast a character field as a numeric value
  • CHAR – Cast a numeric field as character

Users can still download the data from the View or Table results into Excel and other PC file formats—as long as they are allowed by the Administrator. The same applies to email and printing or the results. See Image B above. The results can be emailed in a variety of PC file formats interactively or printed to a PC/network printer or to an IBM i output queue.

Ease of use is an empowering feature for any tool. With Sequel, browser shortcuts are there for the clicking! A user can get to and see the data they need immediately. Sequel has been designed to use the same basic functionality in the tool as with any browser. Therefore the learning curve for new users is shorter.

And if the shortcut is damaged, or the entire PC for that matter, no data or data definitions are lost. They simply get or create a new shortcut.

If business users utilize the Sequel Explorer feature (Image A above) to access their Sequel objects, losing a PC is, again, not impacted. The centralized definitions are safe and sound being stored on the IBM i.

Plus, when all business users sharing the same definition and, therefore, the same data, there should be less conflict than when users build their own unique data fiefdoms.

Interactive Sequel Client Tables can be run from SWS. Client Tables allows the user to pivot fields around to gain new perspectives into the data. This can expose previously un-seen information that can lead to better company performance. And a double click in a cell will reveal what data makes up that cell.

With SWS, an environment can be set-up so that the users do not directly access Sequel objects in a library on the IBM i. Instead, the Repository feature can be utilized.

The Repository points the user toward folders on the IFS portion of the IBM i. The IFS (Integrated File Server) allows embedded folders, like the tree structure of a PC or server. These folders can be secured by user and may contain Sequel objects and PC files. Scheduled jobs can run and place an Excel file or a PDF on a folder in the Repository. And the user can then open the file right from the SWS Explorer. 

Summary

Deploying data with Sequel is secure, quick, easy, and cost-effective. There is no PC software to install. The established IBM i authority is honored, as well as Sequel setting that can be activated for added security. And the business user can still interact with the data in many ways, all from a browser they already know and love. This provides a short learning curve for business users and a fast ROI for your organization.

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