Esker Gets Active in Windows Connectivity

Microsoft is king of the desktop, a fact not lost on Web-to-host and terminal emulation vendors. That's why Esker (Stillwater, Okla.) is incorporating Microsoft network technologies into its latest emulation and Web-to-host products to facilitate connectivity between AS/400s and Windows PCs.

The latest release of Esker's terminal emulation product, Tun PLUS (Version 10), includes major functions integrated as ActiveX components that can be embedded directly into Windows client applications. Esker also began shipping Corridor for Active Server, an enterprise application integration (EAI) product that supports Microsoft's Web technologies, including Active Server Pages and ActiveX Controls.

"We've componentized Tun PLUS," says Jerry Rackley, spokesman for Esker. "We've taken the most popular functions of the product -- 5250, 3270 and Unix emulation, and FTP -- and created ActiveX components out of them." These ActiveX components move data out of AS/400 environments over the Web and directly into Windows applications or HTML pages. Developers can use any third-party development tool that supports Microsoft's COM architecture to build Windows interfaces to back-end systems.

Developers "can rely on Tun PLUS' core host access engine and design their own GUI," says Pascal Henry, host access product manager for Esker. "They can use these components to add host data to applications within the context of that application's interface."

Esker's Corridor for Active Server is designed to enable rapid development of host-based Web applications. The product consists of two primary components -- a server-based runtime environment that invokes Web applications when they are accessed, and a Web application design environment. Corridor deploys these applications as Active Server Pages that link to 5250 or 3270 applications, Rackley says.

The centerpiece of Corridor for Active Server's design-time facility is "The Builder," an automatic plug-in to Web authoring tools such as Microsoft's Visual InterDev, FrontPage 98, or Sybase's PowerSite. Corridor Builder is a graphical tool that enables Web authors to select host information for inclusion in the Web applications, or input data into host applications from Web applications.

Esker Tun PLUS and Corridor for Active Server are targeted at two different types of users, according to Rackley. Tun PLUS -- a two-tier environment -- is suitable for sites that "are using the Web as a low-cost public network for remote access to terminal emulation sessions." Corridor is designed for building and enabling Web applications that require data from back-end host systems.