Capturing IBM i Host Screens

Posted by Rasmiya Cader on Mar 11, 2014 1:53:20 AM


capturing-ibmi-host-screens-looksoftwareCapturing IBM i host screens

Often there will be a need to view and work with IBM i host screens offline when a live connection to the host is not available. In these instances looksoftware provides the facility to capture host screen information in a discrete file that can then be loaded offline. The captured host screens are stored with a file extension of (.nl).

Working offline removes the constraints of always having to have a live connection during development. nl host screen captures are a complete capture of the host screen information and therefore can be viewed in either GUI or emulator view. This is particularly useful for offline demonstrations and early development work.

Obtaining a capture using smartclient

You can create a newlook Screen (nl) file as follows:

  1. Start smartclient and connect to the host application
  2. Navigate to the screen you wish to capture and select ‘File | Save As’ from the menu to access the Save dialog. If you can't see the menu (such as when running within the smartframe) you can just do a CTRL-S. You will notice that smartclient has automatically created a name for the file to be saved based on the screen title. You may choose to retain this name or modify it
  3. On the Save dialog, select an appropriate directory for smartclient to save these files in, by default this will be under ‘My Documents’
  4. Repeat the above process for any screen you need to capture. i.e. Simply navigate to the screen you want to capture, select File | Save As and then click OK




Obtaining a capture using the IDE

You can captures .nl screens via the IDE runtime as follows:

  1. Start the IDE (newlook or soarchitect)
  2. Launch the IDE runtime by pressing F5, Ctrl-F5 or pressing the play button in the IDE toolbar
  3. Connect and navigate to the screen you wish to capture and select ‘File | Save’ from the menu to access the Save dialog
  4. Choose an appropriate file name and save folder
  5. Repeat the above process for any screen you need to capture

Obtaining continuous captures

smartclient and the IDE runtime allow you to automatically capture host screens as you navigate through an application. Each screen sent by the host is saved as a discrete file with a file name that gets incremented automatically.

To create a continuous capture follow the previously mentioned steps for saving NL files within smartclient or the IDE runtime however before clicking on OK, select the option to ‘Automatically save each new screen as it is displayed’.    



Playing back your capture screens

Once you have saved your nl captures you can view them within smartclient/developer at any time by simply selecting File | Open and choosing the individual file to load.

If you wish to play back a sequence of nl captures you can create a list file (nll) which is a simple text file that contains the names of the individual nl files you wish to open in sequence.

An example nll file could contain the following:


To create a nll file you can either manually produce a text file using an editor such as Windows notepad or you can create the file using a DOS command e.g.

From a DOS prompt, navigate to the directory that contains the nl files you wish to list within a nll file and type the following:

Dir *.nl /b > mylist.nll 

This will create a file called ‘mylist.nll’ which will contain a list of all the nl files within the directory.

To open the nll file, within smartclient select File | Open (or CTRL-O) and browse to the directory containing your nll file and open it (the nl files need to be in the same directory as your nll file).

To navigate through your nll file simply press Enter to move you onto the next screen or press Page Down or Page Up to navigate through the screens.    

I hope this has helped you. Please tell us if there are other areas we may be able to provide tips for.

Blog Author
Rasmiya Cader
looksoftware support

Topics: Application Modernization, ibmi