What Are Helper Applications and Viewers?

If your users already have a licensed copy of the ACUCOBOL-GTĀ® runtime on their machine and they want to be able to access COBOL applications on a Web site, one way to do this is to set up their runtime as an Internet helper application or viewer inside their browser.

Helper application and viewer are browser terms referring to user-based software that can read and process files of a given type. Netscape uses the term "helper application" to refer to such software. Microsoft Internet Explorer uses the term "viewer."

Since the ACUCOBOL-GT runtime has the ability to read and process COBOL objects, it allows users to run COBOL programs that they encounter when browsing your Web page.

Relationship between the browser client and the server

The main difference between this and a standard runtime configuration is that your COBOL object files are on the Web server and transmitted to the client machine via HTTP.

Keep in mind that the helper application/viewer is a fully-featured runtime; it has full access to your users' machines, including system calls, memory, disk and network access. Therefore, it should be used only with programs from trusted sources, or in conjunction with the Internet security you have in place.

If your users do not already have an ACUCOBOL-GT runtime installed, a thin client or Web runtime may be a better option for them. These client technologies are available on the Micro Focus Web site, and they provide additional capabilities designed for accessing remote COBOL resources in Internet environments. See Using the Thin Client to Launch Web Applications and Using the ACUCOBOL-GT Web Runtime for more information on these Web deployment methods.

Sample Scenario

The runtime as a helper application makes it very easy for your mobile work force to "stay in touch." With the runtime running as a helper application on their laptops, remote staff can access the appropriate page on your Web site and click on the link to start your inventory program on their local machines. To access Vision data on the server, the runtime makes use of the AcuServerĀ® file system interface. This enables the sales person to access the inventory data files and update them with new information from a remote location.