Speaking of 5250 keyboards .......... (and old aXes forum re-post)

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Speaking of 5250 keyboards .......... (and old aXes forum re-post)

Post by MarkDuignan » 13 Feb 2018, 14:47

This is a personal opinion only and not necessarily reflective of anything that the aXes or LANSA organizations may think.

It's about the persistence of 5250 keyboards - something I encounter a lot in aXes and RAMP.

Some random thoughts:

 5250 keyboards have not physically be made for almost two decades. They now exist only in the collective "finger memories" of older people who have worked with 5250 devices –particularly older RPG programmers.

 There seems to be this mythical thing I'll call the AEU (Antediluvian End User) floating around. That's an end user defined by the dictionary as very old, old-fashioned, or out of date; antiquated; primitive – possibly typified by the IT department as Leslie - “the 56 year old data entry person who has worked for us in the accounting department since we had a S/36"

 The AEU is often used by IT departments to justify the persistence and ongoing importance of the 5250 keyboard layout.

 But …. I’ll bet the AUE can send an SMS – on the bus going to work – using predictive text – without having a Field Exit key or a real keyboard.

 I'll also bet the AUE can send e-mails, update MS-Word documents and maintain MS-Excel spread sheets – maybe not at work, but certainly on their home PCs – and they manage to do this on a keyboard where the key marked Enter actually means Enter.

 Some AEU’s might also be thinking about buying an iPad – because the one their children have look like fun – and it does not even have a real keyboard. They also think that the Windows 10 touch screen PCs in the local computer store looks pretty cool - and many of them don’t have keyboards either.

 I think the AEU actually knows that when they need update a 5250 entry field containing "JOHN SMITH" to "BILL" that they can use the Ctrl-A key (even with their 5250 keyboard layout) and do the change it in just 4 keystrokes instead of 10. The AEU probably also knows about using Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V as a quick means of transferring things into and out of their 5250 screens.

 I think one of the younger people in the accounting department may have pointed the AUEs at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_of_k ... _shortcuts. This knowledge has been passed around the accounting department – and now everyone uses these PC desktop capabilities to ease the pain they feel in having to use a 5250 keyboard layout that was imposed on them by their IT department. The accounts department have discovered all sorts of tricks and techniques for making their “5250 keyboards” easier to use – an AEU is always keen to learn new things that will make their particular job easier.

 I think the AEU may have gone further and discovered their actually PC has a desktop - and realized they can start 4 x 5250 sessions tiled on their desktop – doing different things in each one, even at the same time. This frees them from the restrictive “single window” world imposed on them by the Attention and System Request keys – they can get the same result – but much, much it’s much easier and more productive to use. They keep doing this despite dire and ill-considered warnings from the IT department about “the load on the system” - because they know that their provable productivity increases would easily justify a system upgrade should one be required.

 I think the AEU also knows that whenever they bring a new employee into the accounting department that teaching them how to use a 5250 keyboard layout is a pain – it wastes time, causes mistakes and increases training time and costs.

 I think the AUE was concerned when they heard one of the IT guys tell the accounting department that “5250 keyboards are the best way to do heads down data entry" – because they have seen and used purpose built Windows Rich Client applications that they absolutely know are much, much better at handling high volume data entry.

 I think the AEU is just a myth created by Antediluvian IT departments – and that the persistence of the 5250 keyboard layout is just a metaphor for something much more serious that is wrong in the IT department.

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