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TechTip: Soup Up iSeries Access, Part III

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Learn more customizations for an improved iSeries Access experience.


In previous tips, I've walked you through improving the default iSeries Access installation by changing to a better font and enabling the Windows editing keys. Here are a few more customizations you can make for more-usable, friendlier sessions.

Use a Block Cursor That Blinks

The default installation gives you an underline cursor that doesn't blink. I find it much more useful to have a block cursor that blinks. Navigate from the Edit menu to Display Setup as in Figure 1.



Figure 1: Follow this path to change the cursor. (Click images to enlarge.)


Click Display Setup, and customize your cursor by clicking Block and Blink, as in Figure 2: 



Figure 2: Change how the cursor displays.


You can customize various other items in Display Setup, so take a minute to browse around and experiment. Some prefer a crosshair rule line (third down on the left in Figure 2) to a blinking cursor.

Create a "Go to End of Text" Key

When you use the paste functionality in iSeries Access, the cursor does not move. In most other applications, the cursor ends up at the end of the pasted text, and after I paste in iSeries Access, I usually want the cursor to be at the end of the pasted text. If iSeries Access won't put it there for me, I want something quicker than having to use the right-arrow key to get there. One keystroke would be preferable.


iSeries Access provides a function, [end field], that moves the cursor to the right of the last character in the screen field. Unfortunately, it is not assigned to any key, but that is easy to fix. In Part II of this series, I showed you how to remap the keys. Follow the instructions there and remap a key to [end field]. Which key to remap? That's up to you, but Alt+End and Ctrl+End are [dead] keys, and either is a reasonable choice.

Copy Only if Text Is Selected

By default, if you copy without having text selected, iSeries Access copies the whole screen into the clipboard. This can cause havoc if your fingers are ahead of your brain and you accidentally copy a whole screen and then paste it. In SEU, for example, you can wipe out a good chunk of code.


You can easily set Copy so that it works only if you have selected some text. Navigate from Edit > Preferences > Edit, as in Figure 3.



Figure 3: Edit the edit options.


Click Edit, and then click the Cut/Copy tab, and check "Only if a trim-rectangle is marked," as in Figure 4.


Figure 4: Set to copy only if text is selected.

Now copy or cut won't put anything in the clipboard unless text is selected on the screen.

A Speedier Cursor

In response to Part II, someone mentioned that there are [fast left] and [fast right] functions that move the cursor three positions instead of just one, but they are not assigned to a key. You may want to map these to Control+left arrow and Control+right arrow to get around the screen faster.


Be aware, however, that you will be replacing the [move left] and [move right] functions on these keys, which move the selection box left or right one character, respectively. Already-available alternatives for moving around the screen faster are Alt+left arrow and Alt+right arrow, which move the cursor to the beginning of the prior or next word, respectively. Alt+up arrow and Alt+down arrow move three lines instead of one, so the combination of Alt and the arrow keys for fast movement should be easy to remember and get used to.

Dump the Tool Bar

If you are running your sessions in a window, then screen real estate is valuable. Don't display items you don't need.


The default installation displays a tool bar just below the menu line, as in Figure 5 below:



Figure 5: This typical session shows the tool bar.


How often do you actually use the tool bar icons, other than perhaps cut and paste? In fact, do you know what all of them do? Most of the time, most of us don't need the tool bar. You can do cut and paste from the Edit menu, or enable and use Ctlr+C and Ctrl+V as I showed in a previous tip. In fact, you can accomplish every icon action on the tool bar from one of the menus.


One way to turn off the tool bar is un-checking it on the View menu, as in Figure 6.



Figure 6: Hide the tool bar by un-checking on the View menu.


Note that you can also hide the menu here. If you do accidentally hide the menu, don't panic! It is easy to get it back. Simply click on the little iSeries graphic in the very top left corner of the screen. You get a menu like Figure 7, where you can also hide or show the menu and tool bar.



Figure 7: Here's another way to show or hide the tool bar and menu.


If you choose to hide both the tool bar and the menu, note the Popup Menu-Bar entry in Figure 7. Click this and you will get access to all the menu items, as in Figure 8.



Figure 8: You have alternative ways to access the menu items.


These tips are based on how I've customized iSeries Access for my personal work habits. There are many more customizations under Edit > Preferences that I haven't touched on, some of which may work for you. Experiment and see if you can make your green-screen more efficient and enjoyable.

Sam Lennon

Sam Lennon is an analyst, developer, consultant and IBM i geek. He started his programming career in 360 assembly language on IBM mainframes, but moved to the AS400 platform in 1991 and has been an AS400/iSeries/i5/IBM i advocate ever since.



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