Wireless-to-Host Trials and Tribulations

ResQNet.com (New York) and SEAGULL (Atlanta) are two vendors currently supplying the midrange market with offerings that enable the migration of an AS/400 green screen to a wireless device. Both companies are calling their product "faster, safer, easier" than the competition. But, in attempting to uncover the "truth," it becomes apparent that both SEAGULL and ResQNet.com have been confronted by similar problems along the path from 5250 to wireless.

Limited screen size is just one of several problems developers have confronted along the path from 5250 to wireless.
The self-professed first company to release a wireless-to-host solution, SEAGULL has attempted to address some problem areas with the June release of Wireless-to-Host 2.0 Developer Connector. Meanwhile, ResQNet.com, which began shipping the initial version of its wireless solution ResQ/Me last month, has already responded to market pressure for a more robust service offering to assist users in the implementation process.

Both ResQNet.com and SEAGULL approach wireless enablement from a green-screen perspective, which is inherently troublesome. In fact, Brett Roeder, director of wireless product marketing for SEAGULL, says attempting to screen scrape a 17-inch desktop monitor isn't feasible for wireless deployment. He explains that if an AS/400 shop were to rehost a traditional green screen on a wireless device, endless scrolling would make the application unusable.

In order to accommodate the smaller viewable screen of a wireless device, ResQNet.com and SEAGULL have adopted a strategy for deploying only the most necessary information. Steven Eskenazi, vice president of marketing for ResQNet.com, says that by limiting the number of fields and combining other fields into shortcut features, an application can be made more functional in a wireless environment. However, Eskenazi admits, it has been difficult to get host programming specialists, who are accustomed to working on 15 inch and 17 inch screens, to realize the importance of changing an application's host dialogue to streamline it for use with a wireless device.

Download time is another source of difficulty for wireless-to-host providers. "If someone is going to access information from a wireless device, chances are they need it now," says Roeder. In an effort to address this need, SEAGULL has equipped its most recent wireless release with functionality for session pooling. According to Roeder, session pooling can cut a load of 15-20 seconds down to just 2-3 seconds by allowing a user to sit on the item inventory screen while an order is processed.

While concise screens and rapid processing time are key to the user-friendliness of a wireless-to-host offering, inconsistencies in the interpretations of WAP protocols have proven more cumbersome for providers to combat.

Eskenazi says that ResQNet.com has found WAP implementations to vary greatly from country to country. Roeder, on the other hand, cites discrepancies in how the two WAP browsers (phone.com, WAP 1.1) read WML code as rather vexing. In order to make its offering compatible with both browsers, SEAGULL has provided its latest release with the ability to determine between the browsers and tailor the WML code accordingly.

Although ResQNet.com and SEAGULL are not the only providers of wireless-to-host technology, and while the aforementioned issues are not the only ones confronting vendors in this space, the speed at which they have addressed such issues bodes well for the future of wireless technology.

Related Editorial:

  • ResQ/Me Users Say, “Rescue Me,” ResQNet Responds
  • ResQNet Adds Wireless-Access
  • SEAGULL Expands Wireless-to-Host Capability
  • SEAGULL Supports Wireless-to-Host Solution

    Related Information:

  • ResQNet.com (new window)
  • SEAGULL (new window)
  • SEAGULL's Wireless-to-Host Overview (new window)
  • SEAGULL's Wireless-to-Host Overview (new window)