GUI integration for IBM i applications
Agilysys provides comprehensive software solutions to a variety of hospitality based markets including cruise ships, hotels, resorts, casinos and more. Their software solutions assist with property management, point-of-sale, inventory and procurement, business intelligence, activities management, self-service and document management. Agilysys provide this support to thousands of customers all over the globe including The Breakers Palm Beach, Twickenham Stadium, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group & much more.
Agilysys was faced with the performance issues of its previous interface package, which was not only limited but also expensive to provide. Returning to the green screen environment just wasn’t an option. The perception that the systems were outdated, coupled with the difficulty in training new employees on 5250-based greenscreen applications, would likely to result in prospects as well as existing customers opting for functionally inferior competitive products. In addition to this, Agilysys wanted to integrate their two leading solutions, the Agilysys Lodging Management System (LMS) and the Agilysys Stratton Warren System (SWS), with a range of desktop applications commonly used by customers, as well as with ERPs and other third-party software. It was also becoming increasingly necessary to work within a component-based architecture and to offer cross-platform integration in order to expand the company’s market share and offerings to their target audience.
Although the interface was a significant issue, rewriting the applications was not a viable option, as it would be too costly and time-consuming. With years worth of development effort tied up in legacy code, the company needed to find a way to reuse the functionality of its existing legacy code, while presenting it in a flexible and dynamic format.
looksoftware’s newlook tool was used to create the new interface that would rejuvenate LMS and SWS. newlook enabled the applications to be integrated with Excel and automate the reporting process. In addition, looksoftware’s soarchitect was used to provide interaction with the Agilysys DataMagineTM document management system, the company’s internally developed imaging tool, via web services. soarchitect was also the foundation for the composite application, LMS Guest Hub. The LMS project consisted of 3,000 non-CUA-compliant screens, 99 percent of which had overrides. However, the modernized application, complete with Excel integration, PDF creation and attachment capabilities, was completed within six months. SWS, with 1,400 screens was completed in less than half that time and included a heavily customized web client, an automated distribution mechanism and automated exporting of all grids to Excel.
“We selected newlook and soarchitect primarily because of their ease of use and because the dynamic architecture was the best we had seen.” said Tina Stehle. “This, coupled with enhanced functionality, integration capabilities and good ‘out-of-the-box’ experience, made looksoftware a great package.”
Agilysys has realized a number of benefits since releasing its modernized solutions. The company has achieved reductions in customer attrition, with customers reporting significant increases in productivity due to the integration with desktop applications. “We now have the modern interface our business users expect, coupled with the renowned reliability of the IBM i server” said Stehle. “Adding the ability to export to Excel with one click has also been a major benefit. There is now a consistent professional user interface that provides seamless integration with the Microsoft Windows desktop.”
However, it is the less tangible benefits that have really excited the organization. The modernized solutions have added a ‘wow factor’ exciting customers about the increased functionality delivered by the updated applications. “The graphical interface is more productive and will help drive sales” said Stehle. “Now, our functionally superior products can compete on a level playing field.”
Challenge: Address performance issues and high cost of previous interface package while providing a modern interface to users. In addition, integrate Agilysys’ solutions with desktop applications, ERP and third-party software within a component-based architecture.
Solution: Agilisys used Newlook to leverage existing code while creating new user interface. They also integrated applications with Excel to automate reporting and developed Web services to integrate systems.
– Tina Stehle, Senior Vice President and COO