SouthWare NetLink Changes for Rev 8.1

New Look for Standard Templates

The standard NetLink examples have a new look resulting from the following changes:

- New logo and header look

The standard header uses SouthWares current logo and the color scheme from SouthWares new web site look. This changes the look of all pages even though most of the standard NetLink example pages have not changed.

- Footer buttons built into header

The buttons that were previously displayed in the standard footer are now incorporated into the standard header. The footer now contains only the reference to contact the system administrator.

Faster User Interface with Standard Menu Functions built into sub-header

Many of the standard menu functions are now incorporated into the sub-header files so they are accessible without returning to the menu. In conjunction with the Start Page feature below this makes for a much more efficient user interface and speeds up the process and "perception" of using the standard NetLink examples.

For example, the "custhdr.txt" file that is displayed at the top of customer example pages now includes links to many of the standard customer requests so you can go from request to request without returning to the menu. The Menu is still available, but you dont need to use it for most common requests.

New Start Page Requests

The default Start Page for customer, vendor, and internal requestors has been changed in the standard examples. Instead of going to the menu after login the first page is now a personalized summary page of information for the requestor. This page shows some static and some status info and allows you to link to related pages. You may still access the standard menu from the start page (via the header options link), but the start page better demonstrates the personalized integration with your standard business data.

Customer Start Page

The customer start page (request ID of "CSTART") includes the following sample information incorporated into descriptive text:

Vendor Start Page

The vendor start page (request ID of "VSTART") includes the following sample information:

Internal Start Page

The internal start page (request ID of "ISTART") includes the following sample information:

Executive Start Page and Login

As an example of how an executive could use NetLink to access management info while out of the office you have a new sample start page for an executive. To simplify access to this page we have provided a new request "XLOGIN" that you may use instead of the normal "ILOGIN" for internal requestors. This calls a new request "XSTART" which contains information from the last ExecuMate II gather:


Note: The standard login pages (CLOGIN, VLOGIN, and ILOGIN) now call the start pages instead of the menus. If you dont want to use these pages as your starting point after login you may modify them back to the menu requests or to your own requests. You could also call the new XSTART page from ILOGIN for certain internal requestors by putting XSTART as the Override Initial Request ID (field 9 of NL-01-03).

Selected Changes to Standard Templates

Following are some changes youll notice in the standard templates:

New Sample Requests

To provide a link to a list of BOMs to purchase you may add the following hypertext line to a page related to a NetLink order (such as "nlordlq2.htm"):

<a href="http://@var_form_action_url_@?session_no=@var_session_no_@&amp;nl_order_no=@var_nl_order_no_@&amp;loc_no=@var_loc_no_@&amp;request_id=cbomsel">Select from BOM</a>

You may also add the ReportMate report BOMLST to the request ID QCCATSEL and add an additional "ReportMate format include" within the html NLCATSEL.HTM or a similar hyperlink listed above if you don't want to display a button instead of a list of BOM's.



The result includes all the standard bills with a non-blank Header comment field.

Line items will be created for stock items and text only (Bill-of-material service line items will be skipped). Any items defined as optional with be automatically created.

Standard Table Header Now Uses Color

The standard Table Format records for NetLink now display table header rows using the color "#003366" (blue) for better contrast with the data. You may change this as you wish.

New Optional Separate Directory for Custom HTML templates

You now have the option to store standard NetLink templates in one directory and your customized templates in another directory. This makes it easier to load standard NetLink updates since you can load new standard templates without overwriting ones you have customized. This gives you an alternative to using different names for customized versions of standard page templates.

In the NetLink configuration record directories box (NL-01-01, field 2) you now may specify both a Local Standard Template Directory (the one available in previous versions) and a Local Custom Template Directory. If the Custom Template Directory is blank NetLink will work as in previous revisions. If you enter a Custom Directory the NetLink program will look first in the Custom Directory for a template and then look in the Standard Directory if the template doesnt exist in the Custom Directory.

New Standard Variable for Specifying Content of a Page

You may now define one template that contains varying content that is specified each time the template is used. This allows you to specify the include file in the link that calls a request. Example uses include:

- When you want to use NetLink security to control access to some sensitive static pages but dont want to create separate requests for each static page

- When you want to have your static pages include the standard headers/footers from NetLink and retain session number and other info needed to continue a session

This feature is implemented via a new standard variable "INCLUDE_CONTENT" that you may use in pages. This variable will cause NetLink to include the contents of another file (similar to the "INCLUDE_HTML=name" variable) and the name of the other file should be specified in a variable named "CONTENT". The file name will be treated as any other template file and is assumed to be in the template directory (although you could use subdirectories of your template directory).

For example, lets assume you have three static pages that may only be accessed by valid NetLink requestors. You could:

- create a single NetLink request called "STATIC"

- create a single template called "nlstatic.txt" that contains only the text "@VAR_INCLUDE_CONTENT_@"

- create links that pass the CONTENT page to the request as part of the URL:

http://(execute netlink)?request_id=STATIC&session_no=number&CONTENT=page1.htm

http://(execute netlink)?request_id=STATIC&session_no=number&CONTENT=page2.htm

http://(execute netlink)?request_id=STATIC&session_no=number&CONTENT=page3.htm

If you wanted to log the access to these individual pages you could simply create three requests that use the same template.

Constructed Variables as an Option to Improve Speed of Certain Reports

You may use the new Constructed Variables feature (described in the General Changes) to add a special multi-part Extended Data key to a file to help a long report run faster. This can be very helpful if the report is selecting records based on more than one field and thus is currently reading many more records than will actually be used on the report.

For example, when you report on product invoice history for a customer (request type of "PRODHST2") the report (NLSTKHS2) currently uses the Customer alternate key and thus reads all records for a customer. Lets say you often need to run this report for a single stock number for a customer. Heres how you could improve the performance of this report if your customers have lots of records and the report needs to run faster:

1. Define two new Constructed Fields that consists of Customer and Stock Number. One new field would be for the Order file (RS08) made up of fields 98 and 4. The other new field would be for the History file (RS11) made up of fields 3 and 4. (The <F4> copy function in Constructed Variables will automate this function for the second file.)

2. Add this field as an Extended Data alternate key for the Invoice Line Item (XD type of 104). Rebuild the Extended Data keys via the utility in Extended Data.

3. Change the NLSTKHS2 report (or rename it to a new report) to use the new XD key field as the primary range and sort for the report. The primary file for the report will be XK04.

4. Update the NetLink Parameters for the report - you will need to specify the variable names for both parts of the key and separate them with a semi-colon (e.g. "CUST_NO;STOCK_NO").

When the report runs it will use the new key and read only records that apply. You could also use this Extended Data key to search for records in the Invoice Inquiry program (IS-04-02) by selecting the option "History Line Items by XD Keys".

Note: Adding alternate keys does add some overhead to other processes so you should do this only where improved speed in reporting on a file is very important.

New User Fields on Requestor File and Session File

You now have available some user-defined fields in the Requestor and Session records. The extra Requestor fields allow you to store some special info about the requestor that helps you personalize your site or requests for that user (this lets you achieve some of the benefits that might otherwise require web "cookies"). The extra Session fields allow you to store some variable values that you obtain from a report or user input and then be able to access them via ReportMate for use in later pages. This achieves a similar effect to the WorkFlow user fields that stay in memory until you need them - these will be available throughout the session.

Requestor User Fields

- There are ten 80-character user fields stored in the requestor record.

- These fields are maintainable via the "Maintain User Fields" function (<F4>) from the requestor record (NL-01-03).

- You may update the values in these fields from a NetLink request via the import function available for this file (NL02).

- You may access the values of these fields via ReportMate for the requestor file (NL02).

Session User Fields

- There are ten 80-character user fields stored in the session record.

- NetLink will automatically update the values of these fields when you send the variable name "SESS_USERx" where "x" is a number from 1 to 10 to specify which of the fields to update. For example, if you sent the variable "SESS_USER3=my user data" as part of a request string, NetLink would recognize that variable name and put the value "my user data" in the third user field for the session.

- You may access the values of these fields via ReportMate for the session file (NL03).

New Remote Support Tools

You now have several new features that help you do some system administration support from a remote browser.

- Audit Mode Control

You may send any of the following request IDs to NetLink to control the Audit Mode features. This helps you remotely debug a problem with a request or a system set up problem without having direct access to the server. These are similar to the SYSSETUP request command in that there is not an actual request type in the NL-01-02 file for these names. These are system reserved names that NetLink recognizes:

- Error File Displays Via Browser

You may execute the following request IDs to display NetLink error files to your browser:

- Remote SysAdmin Password

In the NetLink control record (NL-01-01, field 9 Other Security, Remote SysAdmin Password) you may now define a password that is required for browser access to the special system administration function requests:

If you enter a non-blank password in this field you must send the password as part of the request for these functions using the format "P=password". For example, if your password is "ABC321" you could turn on Audit Mode with the request:


We recommend that you implement this password feature at existing sites as additional protection.

- Special System Administration Page

To simplify system administration you may display a special page that consolidates these system administration functions. You may ask for the request ID "SYSADMIN" to display a page that provides explanations of each of these special functions as well as links to execute them. You must supply the password to this special page if you have a non-blank Remote SysAdmin Password as described above.

Improved performance on list of customer invoices

A change was made to ReportMate so that the report will read fewer records and run faster when you run a list of invoices from RS10 that is sorted by customer, has a range of one customer number, and has a non-blank range of customer dates. This is implemented in the ReportMate report NLINVLST and standard request CINVLST. It is included as a standard example in the new start page and menu.

The ReportMate change was released early on a weekly Plus Service update to Rev 8.0.