Following are some of the ways you can deploy your applications on the Web:
These options are described below in more detail. If your users already have a licensed copy of the ACUCOBOL-GT runtime on their machine, they can also gain access to your applications on the Web by setting up the runtime as an Internet helper application or viewer inside their browser. When they click a link on your Web site, the browser knows to associate the application with the ACUCOBOL-GT runtime. This is discussed in Use the Runtime as a Helper Application or Viewer.
In addition to all of these approaches to Web application deployment, ACUCOBOL-GT includes a WEB-BROWSER control that lets you add a variety of Internet features to your COBOL program. With this control, your programs can support Web browsing, display HTML pages, invoke e-mail, Telnet, and FTP services, and more.
If you want Windows users to launch applications from your Web site and have the applications run exclusively on the remote server, you can use the ACUCOBOL-GT Web Thin Client. In this scenario, end users simply visit your Web site. The Web browser searches for the Web thin client on their machines. If successful, it launches the program on the server. If it cannot locate the Web thin client, it provides the software automatically with users' permission. It then invokes the server application transparently and "projects" the user interface back onto the client. The Web thin client is an ActiveX version of our thin client solution.
Alternatively, end users can install the standard ACUCOBOL-GT Thin Client on their local machine. They can install it from any ACUCOBOL-GT media or, subject to appropriate licensing agreements, you can distribute it on your Web site so that end users can download and install it from there. Using an Active Server Page (ASP), Java Server Page (JSP), Visual Basic, or Perl script, you can automate the download and install process for users if you like. Once they have the thin client installed, they can visit your Web site and click a link to invoke your application.
Thin client users always have the option of executing the acuthin command with an Internet server or IP address as part of the command parameters. acuthin can launch programs on any server in a TCP/IP network, including the Internet. The only components required on the client in this case are the thin client software and an Internet connection. Users don't even need to have a Web browser.
With any of these thin client options, all application processing is performed on the server. Usually, data access is considered local because the data resides on the same server machine as the application. If you want to keep data on a different server in a multi-tiered configuration, you can combine the thin client with our AcuServer® technology. Please note that although the thin client supports only Windows clients, it gives access to both Windows and UNIX servers running the AcuConnect® application server software.
Using the Thin Client to Launch Web Applications describes Internet application access via the ACUCOBOL-GT Thin Client and Web thin client.
Perhaps you want customers or users to run your applications by clicking a link on your Web site, but you don't want to require anything special of the user's machine (for instance, the presence of any ACUCOBOL-GT runtime, be it a standard, thin client, or Web runtime). In this case, you can create a new interface to your application using a markup language such as HTML, WML, or XML. With a Web interface, your application can be interpreted directly by the user's HTTP browser or mobile device, and the processing logic can remain in COBOL on the Web server.
In this scenario, you create your Web interface using one of many popular authoring tools. Then you write a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) program that can read CGI variables submitted by the client to the server. This program can launch your COBOL application or it can be a COBOL program itself. You can write it using ACUCOBOL-GT or any other language you choose. If you write the program in ACUCOBOL-GT, you do not have to UNSTRING the CGI variables in the program, because ACUCOBOL-GT takes care of this for you through special IS EXTERNAL-FORM syntax.
By default, your CGI program reads and writes HTML content for use in standard HTTP browsers and mobile devices. But using configuration variables, you can associate your program with the MIME content type for WML so that data can be displayed on WML-based devices as well.
Once you build a Web front end and write a CGI program, your customers or users can then visit your Web site and gain instant access to your COBOL application running on the server.
Note that CGI programs are inherently stateless–that is, they do not store information about previous browser actions. If you require a persistent connection to the browser, you can achieve this by adding pointers and cookies to your CGI program, or you may choose a different method.
This option runs on any platform where ACUCOBOL-GT runs, but it also requires the most coding. You can employ the CGI method wherever a user interface via DISPLAY/ACCEPT statements is not used. This includes batch processes, processes that use socket routines to communicate with an external UI, component adapter technology processes, BEA Tuxedo processes, and processes launched via AcuConnect in distributed processing mode, to name a few. The CGI method is described in Launching Web Applications Through CGI.
Another way to give end users access to your applications on the Web is to provide runtime services through the ACUCOBOL-GT Web Runtime.
Using this approach, you set up a Web site and embed a link to your ACUCOBOL-GT application. Because the Web runtime is freely distributable (in accordance with the terms and conditions of your Micro Focus extend license agreement), you embed the runtime in the link as well by designating the URL of our Web site in your HTML coding. Users can then visit your site and click a link to launch the program. If the Web browser detects that users do not yet have a runtime installed on their machine, it automates the install process, with the users' permission, and then launches the COBOL program locally.
The Web runtime is available only on supported Windows machines, but it gives users access to programs or data hosted on other platforms using AcuServer and AcuConnect.
The ACUCOBOL-GT Web Runtime is geared for Internet Explorer environments. It relies on ActiveX technology and does not run on any current versions of Netscape.
Using the ACUCOBOL-GT Web Runtime describes this option in detail.