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Chapter 2: Developing Internet Applications

This chapter outlines the development process for creating Internet applications, and explains how Net Express tools aid rapid Internet application development.

2.1 Overview

Net Express enables you to create Internet applications straight out of the box. It contains tools to help you with the following tasks:

Net Express offers you three approaches to developing an Internet application:

2.2 The Tools to Help You

This section introduces you briefly to the two Net Express tools which help you create Internet applications.

2.2.1 Creating HTML Pages

Form Designer enables you to create the user-interface for an Internet application. Form Designer is a WYSIWYG HTML editor and form painter. You can use standard HTML form controls, ActiveX controls or Java applets.

Form Designer enables you to specify COBOL data types for each of the HTML form controls on a page; when you generate a server program for the application a data item is declared for each control on the page. To get acquainted with Form Designer basics, see the Sample Session in your Getting Started book.

You create an Internet application with Form Designer as follows:

  1. Create a Net Express project to hold all the files for your application.

  2. Start Form Designer, specify the type of HTML page you want (you can use any existing HTML page as a template) and paint your page with any forms.

  3. Use the Internet Application Wizard to create a skeleton server-side program.

  4. Use the Net Express IDE to edit the server-side program to add functionality.

  5. Build the program.

  6. Test and debug the application with the Solo Web server (You can use any Web server to test and debug your application, but if you aren't familiar with configuring and using Web servers, Solo is the easiest to use.)

  7. Edit and refine your form with Form Designer. The code generator changes data declarations in your server-side program to match any changes you make to form controls, but does not change any of the application code you have added.

  8. Edit and refine your server-side program.

See the chapter Creating New Applications for a more detailed explanation of how you use Form Designer.

2.2.2 Creating Server-side Programs

The Internet Application Wizard creates COBOL server-side programs for your Internet applications. It provides three different ways to do this:

To get acquainted with Internet Application Wizard basics, see the Sample Session in your Getting Started.

2.2.3 Debugging and Testing Internet Applications

The Solo Web server enables you to debug your Internet applications on the same machine you use to develop them. Solo has been designed to work specifically with Net Express, and configures itself to use the same folders as the project you are currently working on. You don't need to know anything about setting up or running a Web server to use Solo.

To get acquainted with Solo basics, see the Sample Session in your Getting Started. Solo is documented in the on-line help for Net Express: click Help Topics on the Help menu, then select Programming, Internet Application Programming, Debugging Internet Applications from the Help contents.

Solo is not intended for use as a production Web server. When you are ready to deploy your application for real use, you should use commercial Web server software. You should also unit test your application on the Web server software you are going to use.

The chapter Deploying Your Application shows you how to port your application over to a Web server.

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