Trimble Delivers IBM i Web Apps with Profound UI
In 2013, Trimble was concerned about its line of software products on the IBM i platform. Its green-screen interfaces provided limited functionality and slowed down the training of younger employees. Trimble needed to find a way to upgrade their solutions’ front-end capabilities.
Trimble is a leading software provider within the transportation technology market. The company is the established market leader with over 2,300 customers, including many of the largest, most sophisticated and complex transportation companies in North America, along with hundreds of small and mid-size companies.
Trimble offers several integrated solutions for transportation companies that run IBM i (AS/400) for Power Systems, including their Innovative®, TL2000® and TMT product lines.
To create these solutions, Trimble’s IBM i development teams, consisting of 21 programmers, work in an IBM i V6R1 development environment. The teams are keen to ensure their customers have the most up-to-date products, with the same powerful capabilities as Trimble’s non-IBM i applications.
Yet their IBM i solutions had one common drawback: traditional green-screen interfaces.
“Younger staffers are more familiar with a Windows-type environment, where point-and-click interfaces are a way of life.”Matt Mullins
Once Trimble determined that creating Web editions of their IBM i software was the right path, it was just a matter of finding the tools to help them complete the job. They looked for solutions that would be easy enough for their developers to learn and use on their own, but also realized that services may be needed for more complicated development. For these reasons, Trimble selected Profound Logic as their modernization ISV partner.
“The ease of use and the ability to do mass conversions of our green screens was a huge selling point. The ability to quickly configure screens and menus makes the Profound UI suite very simple to use.”
The Trimble team hit the ground running with Profound Logic’s integrated suite of IBM i application modernization tools to complete their projects: Profound UI. With the Visual Designer, Trimble’s developers were able to create custom themes and layouts for their Web interfaces. Profound UI’s DDS Conversion tool and RPG Open Access handler enabled them to move their applications off the 5250 stream and onto Web browsers. Genie helped them quickly web enable screens that did not need to be converted. And the Atrium solution gave the team the ability to create navigation for these new web interfaces.
With the Visual Designer, Trimble’s developers were able to create custom themes and layouts for their Web interfaces.
The TMT product group for Asset Maintenance Software at Trimble also brought Profound Logic on board for custom development and Mass Conversion services. “Our new capabilities with Profound Logic mean greater user productivity and increased business agility for our customers–without the business risk of replacing their existing maintenance operations software,” said Jim Rohde, VP of AMS development for IBM i.
Once Trimble had access to the right tools, their modernization projects kicked into high gear. Their development team was able to go beyond simple “screen scraping” and added advanced functionality to their interfaces, including drag-and-drop options for dispatch systems, charts, interactive mapping and the ability for customers to access applications from their smartphones and tablets.
“The ease of use and the ability to do mass conversions of our green screens was a huge selling point,” says Mullins. “The ability to quickly configure screens and menus makes the Profound UI suite very simple to use.”
Since deploying the Web Editions of their Innovative, TL2000 and TMT software in 2013, Trimble reports very positive feedback from their customers. Not only do these versions give customers access to Trimble’s powerful transportation solutions, they give their customers the continued benefits of remaining on the IBM i platform.
“For our customers making the decision to go forward with these systems, employee satisfaction and retention are important factors in the equation,” says Mullins. “Their users can now enjoy a browser interface with familiar point-and-click operation that also presents their data in a format they may find more appealing and less intimidating.”
For several years, Trimble has also offered customers affordable alternatives to hosting and maintaining their software inhouse with online versions of Trimble solutions. These include Innovative Access and Access Plus as well as TL2000 Access Plus. The addition of fresh, modern interfaces that are totally browser-based have added to the appeal of these offerings, bringing in new customers for the product lines.
Mullins and his team have only one thing to say to any ISV looking to add a modern front-end to their IBM i software: Just do it!
“Modernization does not have to be a long process at all using the Profound UI product,” states Mullins. “If you plan ahead to determine the desired theme, the conversion from DDS to Rich UI can be accomplished very quickly with minimal tweaking. And the customer service even while using the trial product was terrific as well.”
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