Sun. Oct 24th, 2021

New interface improves user experience for mobile workers

Macro 4, a division of UNICOM® Global, has launched a new version of Tubes, its mainframe session management software, with a mobile-friendly interface that gives tablet and smartphone users a better experience when accessing mainframe applications on the move. The new user interface, which features tiles, bright colors and graphics to make navigation between applications easier on a mobile or touchscreen device, will be instantly familiar to users of other tile-based systems such as Windows® 10.

The new mobile-friendly interface is the second browser interface launched by Macro 4. Users can switch between the two with a single click to select whichever screen layout they prefer. The new mobile dashboard gives an at-a-glance view of all mainframe applications the user can access, with icons to make individual applications instantly recognizable, even on a small screen. Users can customize their dashboard by selecting familiar and memorable images to represent the applications they regularly access. Tubes also comes with a classic list-based interface which displays more detail and is therefore ideally suited to larger screens. Both interfaces work with a touchscreen or mouse.

“Our customers told us they wanted an easier way to provide secure web and mobile access to their mainframe applications,” said Keith Banham, Mainframe R&D Manager at Macro 4. “So in addition to the ‘green screen’ 3270 and Eclipse interfaces that come as standard with Tubes, we’re giving customers a choice of two ways to access their mainframe applications in a browser. This latest interface was designed with mobile users in mind but both interfaces are completely interchangeable so users can switch around at will and find what works best for them. In either case it’s a great user experience, with simple navigation and time-saving features such as drop-down menus. Compared with a 3270 command-driven interface it is much easier to use and we’ve found that it increases productivity for everyone – even experienced mainframers.”

The Tubes session manager has comprehensive mainframe security features, including integration with external security products such as RACF®, to ensure that users can only access the applications for which they are authorized. This in-built security applies equally to 3270, Eclipse and browser access, so there is no need for companies to set up additional security systems to support web and mobile users.

“Many companies have a large number of applications they want to open up to web and mobile access, but they don’t have the time and resources to build individual web interfaces for all of them,” said Banham. “Tubes’ web and mobile interfaces provide an instant shortcut – a way of web enabling applications without any development work for the hard-pressed IT department. Companies can also make significant cost savings because they no longer have to install terminal emulation software to access mainframe applications on a PC – all you need is a browser.”

The latest features are part of an active development program focused on using session management as an enabler for modernization, as Banham explained: “Any company running multiple mainframe applications needs a session manager. We wanted to build on those core session management capabilities to deliver even more value to businesses. Web and mobile access is a big part of that. Our approach encourages companies to take a fresh look at session management and question whether what they use today is still fit for purpose.”

For IBM mainframe customers who are considering moving to a new session manager, Macro 4 can help to complete the switch within days and with minimal effort for commonly used session managers.

Tubes is a leading session management solution that provides secure, flexible, user-friendly access to mainframe applications. From a single sign-on, Tubes delivers concurrent multi-session application support. Users can switch easily from one application session to another, with no loss of context, leading to greater efficiency and productivity. The software includes a comprehensive suite of features, including a range of user interfaces (web, mobile, 3270 and Eclipse); online and batch administration capabilities; application performance monitoring; and powerful helpdesk facilities.

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