We initially began our iSeries modernization process with writing custom web apps using WDSC utilizing the Webfacing feature. I first learned about WebFacing at COMMON in San Antonio in 2004. At the time it seemed like the answer we were looking for. So, I purchased Claus Weiss’ book “Understanding the IBM WebFacing Tool.” This is a great read and walks you through step-by-step on initially getting your custom iSeries apps to the web and also helps you customize the WebFaced app to suit the users needs.

However, from the time I deployed our first WebFaced app on our WAS Express 5.0, we began seeing lots of performance issues. The performance hit was only on the web side of things and was having trouble processing multiple requests. For example, one of the main issues we had with any WebFaced app was every 9 to 15 clicks of the mouse where the iSeries had to do something, the app would hang for around 5 to 8 solid minutes. Seeing this, I submitted a PMR to IBM and I got the dreaded response, “We’ve never seen anything like this before.” So, we tried putting on some PTFs to hopefully fix the problem to no avail.

After a year or so of doing this, and a managerial change in my department, we decided to investigate CGIDEV2. I put together a few test programs just to see if the performance was the same as a WebFaced app. There was no comparison in performance. The difference was like night and day. My new manager was highly impressed and was wondering what language it was running behind the scenes. When I told her it was RPG, she didn’t believe me. So, I had to show her what was really going on and she was floored. All we needed to do was convert the DDS screens to html, rework some of the RPG programs to utilize the CGIDEV2 APIs and add a few lines into our Apache configuration file and Viola!

Since that time, all of our WebFaced apps are now on CGIDEV2 and we’re not looking back. This has truly been the answer to our iSeries modernization prayers. In a world where a sexy look and high performance is what users desire, I don’t see how anyone can drink the WebFacing kool-aid.

Don’t get me wrong. I think WebFacing is great for getting custom iSeries apps to the web fast. However, I truly believe that it’s a short term solution. We have had an overwhelming number of positive responses to the new apps in CGIDEV2.

[tags]webfacing, cgidev, ibm, common[/tags]

About Shane Cessna:
Shane Cessna is a Java & RPG programmer for North American Lighting, Inc. in Paris, Illinois. He specializes in writing custom web based applications for the iSeries. On the side, Shane maintains his church's website at http://www.scottavenue.com.