Zip! Console

Mr. Busam managed and participated in all phases of project development of Attachmate’s Zip! Console, a Windows network management application (NMA) for a LAN-based communications gateway. Zip! Console provides support staff with a Windows application that is used to monitor and control one or more of the target communications gateways.

[Zip! Console main screen]

The project was undertaken as a result of user product enhancement requests. User interviews were conducted to further understand their real needs. Several prototypes were developed and shown to users to gain their feedback. Early usability testing confirmed the effectiveness of the user interface and that the functionality satisfied user needs.
[Zip! Console environment] Using Zip Console’s main window, users can view the status of all of their communications gateways, thus seeing which are online, offline, or not operational. The current alarm status of each gateway is also displayed. After selecting an individual gateway, a user can monitor the status of each gateway in various ways, including visibility to each workstation connected to the gateway. It is also possible to control the gateway by sending it commands. A simple file transfer capability is provided allowing remote configuration of the gateway. For each gateway event, the user can select the severity of the alarm generated when the event is received.

Communication between the gateway servers and Zip! Console is currently through proprietary messages using either IPX or NetBIOS on either Netware or LAN Manager Local Area Networks. The messages were architected to conform to the SNMP architecture in order to facilitate migration to an SNMP-based network management platform, when the gateway supports SNMP.

The spreadsheet metaphor was extensively used because it provides a convenient user interface for sorting, selecting, and exporting data for report generation. Toolbars, status lines, graphs, imprint areas, and common dialog boxes are used to provide an intuitive and readily accessible user interface.

Extensive use of a custom script-oriented test tool was made during unit test, system test, and for basic QA tests. Additional QA testing, based on the test plan and test procedures, was performed both manually and using MS Test.

A prototype help file was generated automatically from the functional specification. This allowed testing of context sensitive help before the final help file was completed by the technical writer.