WRQ’s “javalator” entry looks sexier, but docs feel less in tune with HP 3000
Review by Shawn Gordon
EnterView is the second competitor in what I call the “javalator” category for HP 3000s: Java-based terminal emulators. Last month I looked at Javelin from MiniSoft. Although EnterView emulates other host terminals, I limited my test drive to see how well it could faithfully emulate an HP 3000 terminal emulator through a Web browser.
These browser-based emulators do their work with applets downloaded to your desktop client. One of the important factors to consider is how big that applet client is, because the fatter the client, the longer users wait before they can start using the application.
How does it work?
Fundamentally, EnterView works like Javelin — or any Java applet, really. It resides somewhere on your Web server, be it an HP 3000, Linux or NT server, or whatever. When you click on the Web page link, EnterView is downloaded to your PC and executed locally.
By having a small HTML
The performance of this download operation is dependent on the size of the applet that has to be downloaded. While you can control your cache size in your browser to keep from downloading the EnterView applet every time, I couldn’t figure out how to tell EnterView to download only if the size or date of the cached copy of the applet are different from the one on the Web server. That would be the best solution, so even if the download time was long, you wouldn’t always have to endure the wait.
After the applet is down in your desktop browser, then you get a window in your browser where you can then logon to the HP 3000. What is interesting is that the EnterView terminal window is actually inside the Web page. See Figure 1 for an example.
There aren’t a whole lot of options to EnterView’s terminal emulation. It allows to you create a terminal emulator session to an HP 3000 within a Web browser. There are configuration options for things such as encryption, size, whether to autoconnect when selected, the model of the terminal, and Telnet or NS/VT connection. There are also a number of things for metering, so you can log connection information and queries. As the product ships, you have access to five different types of emulators: IBM 3270, IBM 3287, IBM 5250 and then HP and VT. I couldn’t find anything to configure things like font size and color.
A unique feature of EnterView is its Administrator. You can create and save EnterView session configuration files with it, so you can set your various parameters. This becomes a small HTML file that sets the various runtime parameter information and then launches the applet. Both Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator are supported.
Installation and Documentation
The shrink-wrapped package includes a CD-ROM with the installation software. After you find and run the setup program, it will operate like pretty much any other Windows setup program. In a real world environment where the applet is being downloaded from the Web server, it should work on any client that has a good Java Virtual Machine implementation. I didn’t try it on any clients other than MS Windows, however.
The documentation is very slim, only about 30 pages, and not very thorough. While it does have a very good tutorial to get you started, there are comments about using the DES encryption like “We won’t get into it for this tutorial.” The problem is that they never get into it — the feature doesn’t appear to be documented that I noticed. The manual does have a table of contents, which for a manual of this size is nice, because most companies wouldn’t bother to put it in.
The CD has additional documentation, but it is arranged in such a way that it isn’t obvious what you need to deal with. I think a lot of the issues with EnterView’s documentation stem from the fact that they’ve included all emulators in one manual. This makes it slightly confusing when dealing with a single platform like the HP 3000.
It took a little hunting around to figure out how to actually run EnterView, because the documentation is not very clear. But once I did and configured my IP address and the type of connection I wanted, I didn’t have any other trouble. Once I was connected, I simply ran programs as I would normally.
I tested EnterView with NMMGR, as well as my TimeWarp product, which uses almost every escape sequence you can name. Everything ran without incident.
The obvious — and only — comparison for EnterView is with the subject of last month’s review, MiniSoft’s Javelin. In my testing, I found these two packages to be almost apples and oranges, they go about things so differently. In the case of Javelin, you have a separate app that launches and seems just like you are running a terminal emulator. In the case of EnterView, the emulator is actually inside the Web page that you launch this “javalator” from.
Both products offer Telnet and NS/VT connection types for HP 3000s. They both do a very good job with emulation, but I couldn’t find any way to do local printing through EnterView, which you can do with Javelin. As a 3000 user, I found the fact that the EnterView manual was always using IBM 3270 as an example was also a little insulting.
Because of the way the EnterView applet is buried, I couldn’t get a handle on the size of it, so size and speed are hard to gauge. I was loading a local copy on my network, so the time elapsed wasn’t much more than just launching a copy of Reflection, but a dial-up connection might present some challenges. In choosing between these products, I guess it will come down to a matter of cost, and your preference of how they each implement their solution.
There are configuration and administration options offered in EnterView that aren’t in Javelin: the Administrative WebStation, Deployment Director, and the metering feature of EnterView, none of which I tested for this review. That’s because they aren’t really covered in the manual. I was looking at core functionality and didn’t really want to wade into items that weren’t well-documented.
I’m not sure what the Administrative WebStation does, but the Deployment Director is an app that lets you configure an environment for an EnterView session through a Web-based menu process instead of altering the HTML directly. The metering feature was really slim, but from what I could tell it’s a way to keep clocks on sessions to know how long an application is used. Some of this stuff you can only get to by wandering around the CD.
I thought EnterView looks a little sexier than Javelin, but it didn’t seem as functional, and the client it generated was pretty fat. When EnterView came out in its first version, there was no 3000 connectivity, and more than a few of us in the 3000 world wondered if it would work with our systems. By looking at the EnterView manual, I’d say that everything is geared towards IBM, which is why this 3000-ready version appeared to be an afterthought.
EnterView works very well as an HP 3000 terminal emulator. All the different types of applications I ran worked without a hitch. The administration program and the packaging are also very slick. I liked that you could specify the emulator size within the config file. There are actually a number of cute configuration options in the product. For example, you have the ability to run the applet in a frame or a separate window, control the title bar, specify different levels of menu commands available to your users. You can also specify a default URL that can contain your own Web page of custom help.
While I didn’t test it, EnterView’s support for 56-bit DES encryption as well as 168-bit Triple DES encryption is also a very powerful and needed feature. If you are going to let people log onto your HP 3000 over the Internet, these features will help you make sure access is secure.
Competition is a good thing, and having a choice in this product area is important. You owe it to yourself to understand all your options before you buy into this new type of technology, so check EnterView out.