Unlocking Myrtle Beach

by | Sep 7, 2017

Have you ever told someone that you “develop software for the iSeries” and watched as their eyes glaze over? Yeah, we’ve been there. But what if you said that you developed the software that controls the electronic locking mechanisms to vacation properties on Myrtle Beach?

Well, we have done one such project!  We worked with Elliott Beach Rentals to deploy a custom RPG-XML Suite program that allows their property management system (an RPG coded application running on the IBM i) to generate lock access codes for the majority of the rental properties .

Let’s take a step back and get the whole story. Elliott Beach Rentals manages hundreds of properties in the North Myrtle Beach area and has been in business since 1959. In 1984, Elliott Beach Rentals began using a System/36 RPG-based application called the Sunrise Reservation Board from Sunrise Systems.  Rick Flanagan, the original author of the system, has reinvented the application several times over the years and today it runs on the IBM i while in daily use at all of Elliott’s six offices.  This is no small task. During peak vacation season of June-August, Elliott Beach Rentals averages over 1600 bookings. Business remains strong throughout the rest of the year due to the attraction of the 120+ golf courses in the nearby area.

To efficiently manage access to their vast amount of properties and bookings, Elliott has installed electronic locks similar to the one pictured below on their properties.

These locks operate through a unique and clever algorithm that allows certain access codes to operate the lock during specific time intervals.  The algorithm allows the lock to be opened only if a code is entered that is correct at the specific time it is entered.  The allowed time interval for a corresponding code can be for a hour, a day, multiple days, months, or basically whatever interval is desired. There is no wifi or other communications link required – the algorithm manages what codes are allowed and at what times.

 

 

The challenge that Rick was faced with was in allowing his RPG-based applications to provide valid access codes without creating an inefficient process for the staff to access the Windows based application provided to manage the access codes.  RPG-XML Suite was the solution Rick was searching for all along. RPG-XML Suite allows access to a web service being offered by a Windows server that had been specifically coded for use with a DLL provided by the manufacturer of the circuit boards inside the lock.  This Windows DLL allowed the Widows-based web service to generate access codes that would be accepted by the lock’s circuitry.  Since RPG-XML Suite can easily consume a Windows-based web service, Rick was able to consume the web service and quickly integrate the generation of lock codes directly into the RPG-based application used for reservations.

With this solution in place, Elliott staff can generate access codes on demand for specific time periods  for guests, cleaning personnel, maintenance/repair staff, the property owner, and more.

 

So while we have lots of stories we could tell about customers having used RPG-XML Suite to unlock the potential of their IBM i, we now have a story of RPG-XML Suite being used to unlock Myrtle Beach properties.

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