• November 27, 2020

Building Upon Zowe: How Rocket is Building Commercial Software for Zowe Users

This content was originally presented at the inaugural Open Mainframe Project Summit in September 2020.

Over two years ago, Rocket Software joined forces with IBM and Broadcom/CA to create the Zowe project. Our goal? To build a z/OS framework for the modern age. As long-time mainframe users, we all wanted to come together to create something that would make the user experience a little bit better on a mainframe, opening up the possibility for other businesses to harness the power of the mainframe more easily. 

We started by making this project open. As the first open-source project for the IBM z/OS system, we wanted to deliver a modern graphical user interface. We also wanted all mainframe users to be able to contribute, give feedback and become involved in the process. We all agreed that, through openness, we would be able to make the best possible framework.

On the mainframe, there are many tasks that need to be completed, each with their own user experience: there’s the integrated development environment for development or the command-line interface for automation. But the one piece that was always missing was a traditional desktop experience. With Zowe, we’ve been able to create that environment. Zowe looks and acts like a traditional desktop, but it lives in the Zowe browser. This allows users to access mainframe data in a traditional and intuitive way. 

With the addition of plugins, users can add features and components to Zowe that may not come with the out-of-the-box solution. Rocket has been working on creating some of these important plugins that help users make rich and interesting programs on top of the Zowe framework. Although the Zowe platform comes with many out of the box features, plugins are the answer to get all the features needed to meet these unique requirements. Using commercial plugins, businesses can help users solve their individual, complex problems.

BlueZone Web for Zowe

One of these recently launched plugins is Rocket’s BlueZone Web for Zowe. Rocket BlueZone is our leading terminal emulator system for mainframes, available for desktop or mobile. It provides connectivity, speed and ease-of-use between PCs and backend systems, such as IBM i and IBM z systems. Until BlueZone Web for Zowe, there were no commercial terminal emulator solutions available for Zowe.

The BlueZone Web plugin is a secure browser-based terminal emulator that lives within the Zowe platform. It enables users to connect to the mainframe remotely and is a significant improvement over their embedded terminal emulation solution that comes with Zowe. With a certified Zowe V.1 app framework application, users can have confidence that products or applications that leverage Zowe have a high level of common functionality, interoperability, and user experience.

Terminal Emulator Enhancements

By adding the BlueZone Web for Zowe terminal emulator plugin, the user experience is greatly enhanced. It can provide superior configuration options for macros and settings, as well as a consistent experience across the platform. Other major enhancements include:

  • Script recording: Record steps, commands and actions once with the ability to repeat multiple times.
  • Configurable hotspots: These clickable areas on the terminal display act like buttons that users can interact with using the mouse.
  • Power pads: These are configurable action buttons at the top of the screen.
  • Support and technical support: Rocket’s support will be available to assist users with any issues that arise.
  • Session settings: Fonts, colors, language support, and keyboard mapping can be set according to the user’s preferences.

Commercial Software for Zowe

There are many benefits to using commercial software and plugins to enhance the user experience on Zowe. Although Zowe comes with many tools, commercial solutions can help to provide the best user experience, and a unique experience according to the user’s needs. For Rocket, building commercial solutions for Zowe showcases our commitment to the open mainframe movement. Our long-term plan is to adapt all our commercial solutions for Zowe, further enhancing the open mainframe experience.

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