Newlook, from Looksoftware, now helps IBM i users to plan application modernization and UI development based on user behavior, saving time and delivering better business value.
Montreal, May 16, 2016 - IT departments that manage IBM i applications are often short-staffed and overworked. Keeping up with backlog and maintaining the status quo leaves little time and resources for important projects that will support business needs, such as modernizing applications to make them easier to use, with graphical interfaces and accessible by users on mobile devices. How do you determine priorities and where to focus efforts when modernizing an application? Looksoftware, a division of Fresche, has developed a revolutionary capability within the Newlook suite that helps developers spend their time wisely.
The new Application Insights allows developers to visually understand how users spend their time in the application – including which screens and fields are used most often – and then decide which parts of the application need to be modernized first. “This feature is based on the 80/20 rule of design theory,” says Nick Hampson, Newlook product manager. “Users spend approximately 80% of their time in 20% of the application, so 80% of the modernization effort should concentrate on those 20% most used.”
Understanding how end-users interact with an application is more than an empirical task. IT departments often don’t have information readily available that shows which screens are viewed most often and what the common user paths are throughout the application. “During preliminary tests, we asked IBM i developers to map user behavior using the application insights within Newlook and found that their initial assumptions of flow and field usage were incorrect,” says Nick Hampson. “We are eliminating the guesswork and looking at actual user data. If you want to modernize an application the smart way, the first thing you need to do is understand how it’s being used to know where process and workflow improvements can be made.
Visualizing user behavior
In order to understand and analyze user behavior, you need to record it. Traditionally, developers have had limited ability to record user behavior using “.nll” batch files – a collection of “.nl” files. Now, developers can still leverage their “.nl” files but also take advantage of advanced recording capabilities within Newlook to capture data on individual users as they use the application, creating individual recording files for each user access.
Once the recordings are done, developers import them into Newlook Developer’s Application Insights. There is no limit to the number of recording files – the more recordings added, the more accurate the information about general user behavior will be.
Newlook immediately creates a visual representation of how users have used the application, showing which screens were accessed most often, which function keys were used to get in and out of a screen, user processes and workflows, navigation trends, and which fields have been used more . There are different ways to visualize this data, including color-coding, a colored heat map, and an opacity heat map. The graphics can be split by visit or by time spent, and configured to show specific key information or all of the available data.
This new capability in Newlook is especially important when you’re enabling applications for mobile devices, building web services, developing applications into tabs or splitting applications,” says Nick Hampson. “We are very excited about releasing this to the IBM i community. It’s a completely new concept for developers, which will help people to modernize the right screens, with the right fields on them. It’s a game changer.
How to learn more
To date, the new feature has been tested by select Looksoftware customers and partners. An open beta test will be launched in June and a market version will be released by the end of the year.
For an overview of Newlook Application Insights, watch this video: https://vimeo.com/166010821. More information is available at the Fresche booth (# 509) during the COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition in New Orleans, from May 15 to 18.
Fresche specializes in helping companies achieve their business goals and outcomes by better managing, enhancing and evolving their IBM i application environments. Companies can count on us for complete management and modernization solutions, including planning and analysis, application and database modernization, onsite development and deployment, complete project management and ongoing application support. We transform traditional 5250 systems – modernizing, connecting and extending them to meet today’s end users’ expectations. Companies running RPG, COBOL, CA 2E SYNON and Java applications can rely on us for comprehensive solutions that optimize IBM i systems and help drive better business value and take advantage of technologies such as Web, Mobile, Cloud and Open Source solutions for IBM i.
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