WinFAST provides a means of offering character-based applications (such as those developed under UNIX) and displaying them under Windows. Using an application configuration table mapping character codes to Windows codes, WinFAST lets you run most existing legacy UNIX applications on desktop Windows machines, often replacing the need to telnet into a UNIX server or resort to applications like Multiview and WinTerm for Windows display of telnet sessions. WinFAST allows for many Windows interface features like pull-down menus, mouse navigation, and point-and-click areas on the screen.

WinFAST runs on a Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT 4.0 machine. Regular minimum system requirements work, but the more RAM the happier Windows and WinFAST are. The minimum screen resolution is 800x600 (the taskbar must be hidden for proper use at this resolution), with WinFAST looking much better at 1024X768. At least 256 colors is needed, with 16 or 24 bit preferable. WinFAST is shipped on a CD-ROM and installs under Windows in a few minutes. A slim perfect bound manual steps you through the configuration of applications and the concepts behind WinFAST.

To use WinFAST for your legacy applications, time is required to map character-based screens to WinFAST screens. WinFAST allows for several screen types, including logins, data entry, reporting, menus, and others. When conducting the mapping, there are many options available including submenus, color and font choices, and button replacement of function and control keys. The process takes several hours for medium complexity applications, while simple one or two screen legacy applications can be set up in a few minutes. Our largest test application, involving about two hundred screens and reports, took a couple of days to convert. Once converted properly, though, the application takes on a completely different look, mirroring Windows-developed applications.

After conversion, few users will be aware of the fact they are running legacy character-based applications. WinFAST does a superb job of providing current GUI appearance to ancient applications, and even allows you to modify the way the older system works with more up-to-date menus and cursor controls. Of course, the more complex your application and the more changes you make to the Windows-based version, the more time involved, but the investment will be worthwhile for any application frequently accessed by Windows users. We didn’t run into any major problems with WinFAST during our short testing period, although our system did lock up twice over a one-week period. The lockups were not repeatable but since nothing else was being run on the system other than Windows 98, the cause may well have been WinFAST. Still, the inconvenience of losing one screen’s worth of conversion was minimal. As Visual Legacy Group continues fine-tuning WinFAST small problems like these should disappear. For legacy application presentation under Windows, WinFAST is a completely new approach and one we heartily endorse.