Web Shared Workstations

Have you heard about STRCPYSCN command (Start Copy Screen) allowing you to display another user screen? By searching on the internet, one can find a lot of resources where IBM i users ask various questions about getting another user workstation screen. However, STRCPYSCN is somewhat limited to read-only mode. Here, Green Screens Terminal Services comes to the rescue. In this post we will describe what we are working on and how it can be beneficial to the end users.

This feature becomes even more important due to COVID-19 pandemic, as recent recommendations to companies made by many governments is to allow their employees stay working from their homes as long as possible to reduce infections.  

Green Screens Terminal Web Shared Workstations is a new incoming feature similar to STRCPYSCN except our solution compared to STRCPYSCN read-only mode allows another workstation operator to take over someone else's terminal session in interactive mode. Technology supports more than two users sharing the same screen while all screen interaction will be replicated on all connected parties.

This feature will allow you two important options:

  • Training mode - remote web training without use of additional remote desktop software improving user experience. Simply, send a URL link to one or more users. On the user side, the browser will open an offline web terminal which will update the screen as you navigate through terminal screens on your local web terminal session. Moving the cursor or typing will also replicate to the remote side.
  • Helpdesk mode - simply ask user workstation displayID. Entering into your web terminal, a shared web terminal session will start allowing you to use remote user workstation interactively. All screen changes will replicate to the remote side.  

The question is why implement such a feature when there are remote desktop software solutions? There are various reasons why remote desktop software might be unavailable as one of the following examples:

  • Desktop computer installation corporate permissions
  • Firewall rules disabling remote desktop SW
  • Remote desktop SW licensing issues
  • Simplicity - no need for additional SW
  • Affordable - no need to pay extra for remote desktop SW
  • Or mentioned COVID-19 pandemic and work from home trends

As Green Screens Terminal Web Shared Workstations is web technology requiring only browser and standard web ports, as long as both sides have web access to the Green Screens Server, this feature will be available out-of-the-box without requirement to install anything on the user computer.

Big benefit versus remote desktop software is that Web Shared Workstations can share a terminal screen with multiple users at the same time. Web Shared Workstations does not work as a remote desktop software by sending compressed screen shots. Instead, it works as a standard web-based terminal, just as standard Green Screens Terminal. Data sent are small, in most of the cases screen data is less than 600bytes and keyboard signals are less than 50 bytes making it fast.

Being web technology requiring web browser only, it is also scriptable with JavaScript opening new possibilities to develop additional features on top of this module.

We also thought about sharing module security. Feature is disabled by default and must be enabled through the web admin console for every IBM i configuration. Combined with an integrated IP filtering engine, further fine grained access control is possible.

Current status is in early stage, supporting read-only mode but we are progressing really fast, so please stay tuned for the news as the new Green Screens Terminal Services update with Web Shared Workstation might be available soon.