How Will IBM DB2 Web Query for i Benefit Your Shop?

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Learn about the IBM query and reporting tool for the IBM i market.


If you have been following recent IT industry trends, you may have noticed that there has been a lot of activity in the area of Business Intelligence (BI). Mergers, major acquisitions, and announcements have dominated the headlines in the past year. IBM has been quite active in this area as well. The recent acquisition of Cognos and the announcement of the Dynamic Data Warehouse Initiative are evidence of this. But the IBM i investment in and commitment to BI has not just been recent; it has been a point of emphasis in the last several releases, going back to V4R1. Consider some of the following database enhancements that have been built into the operating system over the last decade and beyond:


  • SQL Query Engine (SQE)
  • On Demand Performance Center
  • Database Parallelism
  • Materialized Query Tables
  • Encoded Vector Indexing
  • Remote Journaling
  • Autonomic Indexes
  • Index Advisor
  • Database Monitors
  • OmniFind Text Search Server
  • Grouping Functions (Cube, Rollup, and Grouping Sets)

Query/400 to DB2 Web Query

While many enhancements have been made in the database, one area where little was done was a query and reporting tool that could take advantage of these enhancements. Until recently, Query/400 was one of the few IBM i offerings in this area; and while it was a very successful and popular product, it simply wasn't keeping pace with today's demanding BI requirements. For starters, all aspects of the tool's interfaces (report development, end-user invocation, and output formats) are text-based and limited to the green-screen. Another major drawback is that all Query/400 requests are processed by the Classic Query Engine (CQE). This query optimizer technology is not taking advantage of the latest in IBM technology, and products like Query/400 that do not leverage standard SQL interfaces will (for the foreseeable future) only be able to use the less "intelligent" and poorer performing CQE. In fact, CQE has received no major enhancements in several years. IBM has been focusing on SQE, a redesigned database engine that is more efficient and provides more features. At this time, only standard SQL requests are processed by SQE. The result is that Query/400 is unable to leverage the latest database technologies and generally exhibits poorer performance, with limited analysis tools to understand the poor performance.


Interestingly, Query/400 continues to be used by almost every customer. However, the usage of Query/400 is often relegated to being a data extraction tool in a process of moving the data to another database. Over the past several months, while teaching workshops or presenting at conferences or through Webinars, I've often polled the audience to get a count of Query/400 usage. Nearly everyone responds that they are using Query/400. However, when I ask how many are using Query/400 as their primary database analysis tool, the number of respondents is a small percentage! It's quite clear that Query/400, while useful and easy to use, simply does not have the functions and features that customers are looking for. Some of those things include the following:


  • Ability to select a column and drill down to the next level of detail
  • Conditional styling (also known as traffic lighting) to make certain facts in the report stand out
  • Graph generation—Bar charts, pie charts, and other graphical data representations are essential in order to give users the ability to quickly consume and comprehend the data
  • Modern output formats such as spreadsheets, PDFs, and HTML to the Web browser
  • Parameterization and ad hoc reporting—The ability to allow report consumers to select the information they want to see via selection parameters and then have the report filter the data based on the parameters specified
  • Dashboards—A single view for executives or business analysts to see how the business is performing compared to key performance metrics. The single view is graphical and allows a "one-stop shopping" view for many data points that would otherwise be delivered in an untimely or incomprehensible manner. Information can be complex in nature and can originate from a variety of data sources. Graphical elements such as graphs, gauges, and charts are combined with high-level views to provide a visually rich, single interface so that users can quickly comprehend the information they are looking for.
  • Interactive analysis—When users analyze a report, sometimes the data reveals aspects that raise even more questions. In order to answer those questions, the analyst needs to look at the data in different ways (drilling down, drilling up, "slicing and dicing" the data)
  • Ability to query data stored in other databases such as Microsoft SQL Server

Time for a New Offering: DB2 Web Query

To fill this void, IBM partnered with Information Builders Incorporated to deliver DB2 Web Query for IBM i to the marketplace. Information Builders is an IBM Business Partner that has been in the information and reporting business for over 30 years and has long been a leader in delivering BI solutions to their customers. In fact, their WebFOCUS product, recognized by Gartner Group (an industry analyst) as a top BI software product, runs on many platforms (including the IBM i operating system).


The DB2 Web Query product is essentially a subset of WebFOCUS, one that runs natively on the IBM i operating system. The product is sold, marketed, and supported by IBM and in fact is packaged as Licensed Program Product (LPP) 5733QU2 and is installed by using the familiar RSTLICPGM interface.


In December of 2010, IBM shipped a new version of DB2 Web Query. Version 1.1.2 (V1R1M2) provides a multitude of new features and enhancements, some of which are covered later in this article. For more complete coverage on this topic, see the January feature article "IBM DB2 Web Query for i: New and Improved!"


It must be stressed that while a very powerful product, DB2 Web Query is not WebFOCUS. Many features in WebFOCUS are not included in DB2 Web Query. The objective of this product is to provide a query and reporting tool to meet the majority of the BI needs of most IBM i shops. WebFOCUS is based on the powerful FOCUS 4GL programming language, which supports, behind the scenes, DB2 Web Query. But for a full 4GL implementation to enable highly customized query or application logic, WebFOCUS would be the recommended solution.

What Is Different About DB2 Web Query?

Unlike many BI solutions, DB2 Web Query was designed as a solution for customers running their business on the System i, with a majority of their data in DB2 for i and their IT infrastructure built around that platform. And unlike those other solutions, DB2 Web Query allows you to query your data in DB2 for i, enabling you to leverage the advantages provided by a database that is tightly integrated with the operating system: database optimization, security, backup, change management, and other procedures and policies. This greatly simplifies the delivery of information to users without a requirement for server farms, data replication, and a completely new set of administration processes and procedures.


It is designed as a Web-based product, minimizing client configuration, licensing, and administration. All components of DB2 Web Query reside in a single installation of the IBM i operating system, including the Web application server, the reporting server, the database engine, the metadata files, and the report definitions.


Other available BI solutions also claim to run natively on IBM i. A key advantage that DB2 Web Query has over some of these is its ability to generate SQL for data access, thereby leveraging the new SQL Query Engine (SQE). Other solutions rely exclusively on data access techniques such as OPNQRYF and the QQQQRY APIs. These technologies are still supported and do a fine job of data retrieval and manipulation, but all of these non-SQL requests are processed by the older CQE technology. The advantages of SQE over CQE are many and are well-documented in other publications (see the IBM Redbook Preparing for and Tuning the SQL Query Engine on DB2 for i, SG24-6598), but to summarize, here are the primary SQE benefits:


  • Better access methods and smarter techniques to retrieve, sort, join, and group data, which result in better overall performance
  • Ability to use more features—Only SQE can utilize new database technologies such as Autonomic Indexing, Materialized Query Tables (MQTs), and the ability to cache query results.
  • Better optimization and performance tools—Only queries processed by SQE will have their plans stored in the SQE plan cache, an internal matrix-like repository that stores plans and statements processed by the new engine. Tooling available in the System i Navigator product provides an interface to easily access this valuable source of information.


Base Product 5733QU2

The base option for DB2 Web Query includes the development tools and runtime necessary to create a standard, Web-based query and reporting environment. With the base option, you can create reports and graphs that far surpass anything you could do with Query/400.


The product follows a pricing model that is based on the server's processor tier. This means, for example, that a company with a P30 tier will pay more for the product than one that installs it on a P10 tier. Each tier comes with a number of entitled user licenses. Every IBM i user profile that needs to develop or run reports requires a user license and must be registered using the license manager component of the product. If you need more named user licenses than the tier provides, you can purchase more (at a flat fee per license). However, another option exists to support users through a single or a minimum number of user licenses, and that is the Run Time User Enablement option. More information on that option is provided later in this article.


When you order product ID 5733QU2 base option, the following components are included:

  • Three data adapters to interface with the database
  • Four Web-based report authoring tools
  • DB2 Web Query Reporting Server and meta data storage
  • IBM's Integrated Web Application Server


Three Data Adapters 

The DB2 Web Query base product uses three data adapter technologies to access the data in DB2 for i. Each adapter is used to not only access data, but also create and manage the product's metadata layer (also known as synonyms). Synonyms provide an abstraction layer that describes to DB2 Web Query the overall structure of the data source as well as the specific data elements (field names, field types, etc.). Before you create reports or graphs against any data source, you must first create a synonym for that data source.


Depending on your requirements, you will use one or more of the following data adapters:


  • DB2 CLI Adapter—When a synonym is created using the DB2 CLI adapter, the adapter will convert the report specifications (sort columns, display columns, selection parameters, etc.) into one or more SQL statements. This SQL statement is ultimately submitted to the DB2 for i engine from the DB2 Reporting Server using Call Level Interface (CLI). The use of SQL as the database access method is quite important because when that SQL statement is executed, the database will try to use SQE to process the request. If no SQE inhibitors prevent this from happening, the report will (in most cases) run faster than a request in which the underlying synonym is based on one of the two other adapters. In other words, if you want to take full advantage of SQE, your objective should be to use this adapter for all synonyms. However, this is not always possible, so two other adapters are provided. 
  • Query/400 Adapter—This adapter is all about investment protection. It allows shops with many *QRYDFN objects to leverage their significant investment by importing these objects into DB2 Web Query. This will allow most Query/400 objects to be brought into DB2 Web Query unchanged and run through DB2 Web Query. The output can be "Webified" or imported into other modern output formats such as PDF, Active Reports, and Excel spreadsheets. However, as mentioned previously, database access for Query/400 requests is handled by CQE, not SQE. During benchmark testing done in Rochester, IBM observed some categories of queries that ran more than 10 times faster when the reports were developed based on DB2 CLI adapter synonyms.
  • DB Heritage Adapter—Do your legacy applications use multi-format logical files or multi-member physical files? Did you know that SQL does not support these file types? Fear not, as the DB Heritage adapter allows DB2 Web Query to access and report against these files. This adapter uses the OPNQRYF command as the mechanism to access the files. While, like Query/400, OPNQRYF does not use SQE, this adapter does allow you to protect significant investments made in the multi-format and multi-member file types.


Four Web-Based Report Authoring Tools 

The base option of 5733QU2 comes with four tools that developers can use to create modern reports and graphs:

  • Report Assistant—This report development tool provides an easy-to-use, graphical environment for report creation and maintenance. Its intuitive interface eliminates the need for report authors to know database syntax and terminology, allowing them to focus on business logic to quickly create meaningful reports. In addition, its features accommodate several of the BI requirements listed previously. Those features include the following: drill-down capabilities, conditional styling/traffic lighting, 12 output formats (including HTML, PDF, Excel spreadsheet, XML), on-demand paging to allow users to jump to a specific page in a large report, and parameter-driven reporting for ad hoc capabilities.
  • Graph Assistant—This development tool for creating and editing graphs has the same general look and feel as Report Assistant, and in fact offers the same drill-down, conditional styling, output formats, and ad hoc features that Report Assistant does. But unlike Report Assistant, it includes several additional interfaces for selecting the types of graphs you want, as well as ways to customize the pie slices, bars, and x-y axis properties. If you're looking for a specific kind of graph to impress your management, Graph Assistant has over 120 different kinds of charts and graphs to choose from.
  • Power Painter—This report- and graph-creation utility can also be used as a layout tool for creating composite reports (reports that show multiple reports and graphs from one interface). Although its primary purpose is for creating reports in the PDF format, it can direct the output to HTML, Active Reports, and Excel spreadsheets. It is based on AJAX and Web 2.0 technologies, which means that there is an extensive amount of activity and communication between the client application and the server. As such, it does consume and require more memory on both the client side and on the server. It may appear that there is some overlap between Graph Assistant and Power Painter. This is somewhat true, but there are some differences. A common question is, "When would you use Power Painter instead of Graph Assistant?" Power Painter should be used when you want do the following: create composite reports to spreadsheets or PDFs; create graphs that require advanced graphing features that Graph Assistant does not support, e.g., customized minimum/maximum values shown in a graph and ability to customize the increments (grid steps) of the graph; use a development tool that is more of a WYSIWYG type of experience. The Power Painter interface is generally considered more modern and provides this type of experience to the developer.
  • InfoAssist (V1R1M2)—One of the major enhancements of V1R1M2 is the addition of InfoAssist, a Web-based development tool that uses Bindows libraries and Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) technology to improve the development experience. It is regarded as the strategic development tool moving forward, and the intention is to combine the capabilities of Report Assistant, Graph Assistant, and Power Painter into a single, integrated tool for developing reports, graphs, and compound documents. At the time that this article was published, several functionality gaps still existed, but the goal is to add more and more functionality in future PTFs and releases until the gaps are addressed and InfoAssist can deliver the features provided by its predecessors.

    Despite the existing gaps, the current version of InfoAssist still offers many very useful features that developers and users are sure to enjoy. Its graphical interface is a major upgrade over the other tools; it employs a ribbon-like interface similar to the Microsoft Office product suite. This allows developers to quickly find features in a context-sensitive ribbon that changes options based on a selected control element. Among other things, report developers will enjoy a richer user interface, the ability to define reports by dragging and dropping elements into the Interactive Design View (providing an instant preview of what the report will look like), and the ability to convert reports to charts and vice versa. Users will love improvements such the new table of contents feature, a new component called InfoMini that will allow them to define their own "slicers" (dynamic filters that can be applied at runtime), the new output formats based on Active Technologies, and the ability to override the defined report output format at runtime.


DB2 Web Query Reporting Server 

The DB2 Web Query Reporting Server is the "workhorse" that resides between the DB2 Web Query users and the database. It employs the data adapters to translate user queries and report requests into SQL statements, performs additional tasks to properly format the results, and delivers the content to the specified output format, ensuring ease of use and efficient requests for the database.


IBM i Integrated Web Application Server 

In V5R4, IBM made available a Web application server that is integrated into the operating system. DB2 Web Query uses this application server because it is more lightweight and requires a smaller memory footprint than the WebSphere Application Server. It is also easier to administer, start, and stop. In fact, the IBM i commands provided by DB2 Web Query handle the starting and stopping of both the reporting server and the integrated application server. The implementation used by DB2 Web Query also uses IBM Technology for Java, the 32-bit Java Virtual Machine (JVM), which further reduces the system resources needed and generally results in better overall application performance.


Additional Components 

The DB2 Web Query base product can essentially be thought of as a more modernized version of Query/400. While it is much more robust and feature-rich than Query/400, its capabilities are primarily for querying and reporting, just as the product it strategically replaces.


To take this product to the "next level" requires the implementation of several additional LPP options available from IBM. The powerful features included with these options are what transform DB2 Web Query from a modern reporting tool into a solution that provides true BI capabilities. For example, if you want the ability to enhance the metadata layer and hide the complexity of the database, provide visually rich dashboards to your management, give your business analysts the ability to slice and dice data to solve complex business problems, give your mobile employees access to powerful reports in a disconnected environment, and provide true ad hoc reporting capabilities to empower your end users, you will want take a serious look at these additional options.


Most of these options are server-based, chargeable features that, like the base component, follow a processor tier pricing model. The exception to this is 5733QU2 option 3 (Developer Workbench), which is a PC client application with a flat-fee pricing model. You purchase a license for each PC that the tool is installed on. Let's have a look at each of these options.


Active Reports (5733QU2 Option 1) 

Active Reports is a special report output format (specified in the Report Assistant tool) in which the data and the reporting controls are all stored within a single HTML file. These reporting controls provide the user with a variety of built-in data analysis and manipulation features. Here are some examples:


  • Sort—The report can be sorted by any column in ascending or descending order.
  • Filter/Highlight—Any column or combination of columns that match specified values can be filtered or highlighted.
  • Calculate—Math functions sum, minimum, maximum, count, and percentage of total can be applied to selected columns.
  • Chart—Line, bar, and pie graphs can be displayed in a pop-up window.
  • Rollup—Values in a selected column can be aggregated by another selected column and results displayed in a pop-up window.
  • Pivot—Column values can be aggregated and results displayed in a cross tab grouped by two or more columns.
  • Visualize—Bar charts of selected columns can be displayed for a visual comparison of column values.
  • Export—Reports and charts can be extracted and immediately exported into other applications.


All these features are built-in and ready to use via a Web browser; no client application is required. In addition, since all the information is encapsulated in a single HTML file, you can do all this in a disconnected mode. The end user works with the data contained in the HTML file and does not require a network connection to the DB2 for i server.


This also means that users do not have to be registered named users. Only the user who originally ran and populated the report needs to be a licensed user (or member of a Run Time User Enablement group). The report can be distributed (emailed) to anyone, and those recipients simply open the HTML file in a Web browser and have the same information and same data manipulation capabilities as the user who originally created the report.


OLAP (5733QU2 Option 2)

Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) is a component of BI software that provides an interactive experience of working with the data. The user typically runs an initial report to analyze data or examine trends. The report may yield information that leads to more questions, or perhaps it may uncover a problem area within the corporation. To help the user gain more insight on the information, an OLAP application enables the user to extract and view the data at different points of view. This could mean dragging and dropping new fields into the report, filtering the data, re-sorting by a specific column, drilling down to the next level of detail, or pivoting specific columns in the report.


To perform this type of function, OLAP tools structure data in a hierarchical design. As such, OLAP is often associated with data that is multi-dimensional (often extracted from cubes or a data warehouse that was designed based on star schema or snowflake schema principles). However, this is not a requirement for DB2 Web Query. Databases that are relational can also be analyzed using the OLAP module in the Report Assistant tool. Once your OLAP dimensions and hierarchies are defined using the Developer Workbench application, report developers can simply "switch on" OLAP to enable these types of capabilities. This feature empowers your users, giving them many ways to dissect and manipulate the data to gain a better understanding of information that is buried within it.


Developer Workbench (5733QU2 option 3)

Developer Workbench is a Windows client-based application that provides additional and advanced features for DB2 Web Query development activities. While synonym creation, as well as report and graph development tasks, can be accomplished by using the other tools, the numerous features provided in this application make it well worth looking into. Some of the highlights include the following:

  • Synonym Editor—This advanced editor includes features to perform impact analysis, data profiling (statistics, patterns, values, and outliers), date decomposition, creation of synonym-level joins, creation of virtual (computed) columns, and the configuration of the dimensions and hierarchies needed for OLAP processing. Developers also have the option of viewing the synonym structure in a tree view, modeling view, or simple text editor.
  • HTML Composer—This component provides an interface from which developers can create layouts by inserting text, images, existing reports and graphs, and input selection parameters (using design elements such as radio buttons and drop-down lists). The tool then generates an HTML file so that this layout can be used as the framework for a Web page. Dashboards, composite reports, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and the front-end page for parameterized reports are developed using this very powerful accessory. In addition, a new V1R1M2 feature known as Rich Interface Application (RIA) can be activated for each of these types of reports. The RIA Theme dropdown allows the selection of a page theme from which all created objects will be based. This feature provides a richer and more robust and intuitive experience for end users.
  • SQL Report Wizard—If you prefer to create reports based on your own SQL statements or if you have SQL SELECT statements stored in files in the IFS, the SQL Report Wizard will be a useful tool in your environment.
  • Data Profiling and Impact Analysis tools—Included in the Developer Workbench are tools that help you analyze and understand your data. If you need to know what reports reference a specific file or field, use the Impact Analysis feature to produce a report with this information. If you need to analyze your data for value patterns, distinct values (counts and percentages), outliers (high and low values with their counts), and other types of statistics, Developer Workbench can provide this type of data profiling information real time.


Run Time User Enablement (5733QU2 Option 4: Available only with V1R1M1 and greater)

In March of 2008, the Run Time User Enablement option was added to the product offering. While it provides no additional features, this option gives customers more licensing flexibility when the majority of the users are run-time only.


With the base licensing option of 5733QU2, all users (whether they are report developers or report users) must be explicitly registered as named users, using the product's license manager component. Each of these named users consumes a user license. Consequently, a company with many users would be forced to create an environment that is both expensive and difficult to administer. This option was made in response to feedback received from the initial product release based on such environments. With Run Time User Enablement, a company in which the majority of users are run-time only users (perform no report development activities) can license those users under IBM i group profiles. Each of these group profiles secures a unique set of reports. This means that runtime licensing is based on the number of report sets being made available rather than the number of uses that access the reports. This can result in significant savings and reduced administration.


DB2 Web Query Spreadsheet Client (5733QU2 Option 5: Available only with V1R1M1 and greater)

Feedback collected from our customer base revealed that many were looking for tighter integration with Microsoft products, particularly Excel and Microsoft SQL Server. In response to this, in August of 2009, IBM made available two additional options to the 5733QU2 product suite, one of which was the DB2 Web Query spreadsheet client. This plug-in can greatly improve user productivity and reduce dependencies on IT staff through the ability to embed DB2 Web Query reports and refresh the data in the spreadsheet. Although you can create Excel spreadsheet reports with the base DB2 Web Query product, this plug-in provides another level of integration by allowing you to start within the Excel framework and pull data into a spreadsheet using DB2 Web Query reports. This allows you to do several things that cannot be accomplished with the base product:


  • Leverage existing spreadsheets, some of which may contain sophisticated business logic in the form of macros, Visual Basic scripts, and graphs; these spreadsheets can be populated with data returned from a DB2 Web Query report
  • Create new queries while working within Excel
  • Build spreadsheet reports that are refreshed (either on demand or automatically) with updated data


DB2 Web Query Adapter for Microsoft SQL Server (5733QU2 Option 6: Available only with V1R1M1 and greater)

The other August 2009 Microsoft integration enhancement was the DB2 Web Query Microsoft SQL Server adapter. Most of the IBM i customer base stores the majority of their data in the DB2 for i database. Some, however, have a subset of their company data in Microsoft SQL Server databases. With this adapter, you can extend the reach of DB2 Web Query by creating reports and graphs that access Microsoft SQL Server 2000 or 2005 databases. You can access multiple instances of SQL Server with a single DB2 Web Query Adapter and standardize on a single query and reporting solution for the enterprise. This can be done real time, without the need for complex data replication processes.


DB2 Web Query JD Edwards Application Adapter (5733QU2 Option 7: Available only with V1R1M2)

Another major product enhancement in the V1R1M2 delivery was a new application adapter for querying data in the Oracle JD Edwards applications OneWorld and EnterpriseOne. While the ability to create reports against the database files of these very popular applications has always been there, this adapter greatly simplifies the effort required to incorporate the specific JD Edwards business logic into the DB2 Web Query metadata layer. The adapter understands the JD Edwards–specific decimal notation, User Defined Codes (UDCs), date formats, column names and titles, and security and therefore knows how to convert and apply that logic into the DB2 Web Query metadata layer. Tasks that had to be performed manually by an administrator are handled seamlessly and automatically by this new adapter. The result is a secure reporting environment in which users run reports that contain meaningful column titles, date formats, and column values.


DB2 Web Query Report Broker (5733QU3: Available only with V1R1M1 and greater)

In September of 2008, IBM made available the DB2 Web Query Report Broker product. This product was created in response to the demand for a batch solution for DB2 Web Query. Report Broker addresses this need by providing a new level of scheduled report distribution, enabling more report consumers to automatically receive reports in the formats they most prefer. Report Broker’s GUI-based scheduler makes it easy to automate the report execution, with many options for running recurring reports. By leveraging email distribution lists, the resulting output of the scheduled report can be distributed automatically and easily to a large number of recipients. With its intelligent bursting feature, Report Broker lets you run a report once but distribute specific sections of the report to users based on the first sort field in the report.


DB2 Web Query Software Development Kit (5733QU4: Available only with V1R1M1 and greater)

Another product that was made available in the September 2008 GA date was the DB2 Web Query Software Development Kit (SDK). Once again, IBM responded to customer demand by providing a solution that allows seamless DB2 Web Query content integration within other applications. The SDK product provides an API-like interface based on Web Services technology that allows an application developer to directly run reports from other applications. The functions provided in the SDK also allow application developers to completely build their own Web Query interfaces, such as a Web launch page or a dashboard.


IBM STG Lab Services Application Extensions

DB2 Web Query Application Extensions are software components that provide a level of programming abstraction to make it much easier to build highly customized DB2 Web Query applications. The purpose of the extensions is to simplify the integration of DB2 Web Query functions into existing or customized applications—in some cases without requiring coding at a 3GL programming level. These extensions are not part of the product offering, but instead are purchasable assets only available from the IBM STG Lab Services team. There are currently two extensions available: the Application Integration Extension and the 5250 Reporting Extension.


Integration Toolkit Extension

The DB2 Web Query Integration Toolkit Extension provides a URL-based interface to integrate DB2 Web Query reports and graphs into custom applications. This interface greatly simplifies integration, providing an easy-to-use interface to the DB2 Web Query SDK functions from any application. How easy is it? Simply invoke a single URL that represents the report you want to run.


5250 Reporting Extension

The DB2 Web Query 5250 Reporting Extension allows you to execute DB2 Web Query reports from a 5250 command line by invoking the provided RUNWQFEX command. Use this command to run a report for any of the supported output formats and send the results to an email address, a specified directory in the IFS, or a remote location via FTP. With this extension, you can run DB2 Web Query reports from environments such as CL and RPG programs, the IBM i job scheduler, and even database triggers.

The Future

In response to customer feedback, IBM continues to enhance the DB2 Web Query product. The recent additions to the product suite and enhancements built into V1R1M2 are evidence of the commitment to evolve the solution based on customer needs. You can expect this evolution to continue into the future.

Step Aside, Query/400!

Query/400 was a very popular product and had a great run. Indeed, many thousands of licenses have been sold since 1988, and customers continue to use it today. But as useful as it was, its time as a primary query and reporting tool has passed. A changing of the guard has occurred, and with it comes a wealth of new features to deliver the information that your users need, in the format that they want, and with additional features that allow them to utilize true Business Intelligence capabilities. All this from a product that is designed to leverage all the good things about the IBM i operating system: security, backup and recovery, and use of the integrated database…and all from a single IBM i server. This means easier installation, maintenance, problem determination, licensing, and queries that are optimized for DB2 for i.


If you would like more information about this exciting new product, I'd suggest starting with the DB2 Web Query for IBM i home page.


Also take a look at the IBM Redbook Getting Started with DB2 Web Query for IBM i, which accompanied the product launch. It contains much more information about the product: tutorials to help you easily get started using the product and performance tips and techniques to maximize your usage of the latest database technologies.


Last but not least, check out the IBM developerWorks Web site for DB2 Web Query. This site was created in 2008 as way for customers gain easy access to DB2 Web Query resources: in the form of both documentation and real live experts. The Wiki provides links to all of the technical content published since the product was launched, and the forum provides a vehicle for asking questions and interacting with the product experts.

as/400, os/400, iseries, system i, i5/os, ibm i, power systems, 6.1, 7.1, V7, V6R1

Gene Cobb

Gene Cobb is a DB2 for i5/OS Technology Specialist in IBM's ISV Business Strategy & Enablement for System i group. He has worked on IBM midrange systems since 1988, including over 10 years in the IBM Client Technology Center (now known as IBM Systems and Technology Group Lab Services). While in Lab Services, he assisted customers with application design and development using RPG, DB2 for i5/OS, CallPath/400, and Lotus Domino. His current responsibilities include providing consulting services to System i developers, with a special emphasis in application and database modernization. He can be reached at







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  • 2020 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results


    This year marks the sixth edition of the popular IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, HelpSystems sets out to gather data about how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT initiatives it supports. Year over year, the survey has begun to reveal long-term trends that give insight into the future of this trusted technology.

    More than 500 IBM i users from around the globe participated in this year’s survey, and we’re so happy to share the results with you. We hope you’ll find the information interesting and useful as you evaluate your own IT projects.

  • AIX Security Basics eCourse

    Core Security

    With so many organizations depending on AIX day to day, ensuring proper security and configuration is critical to ensure the safety of your environment. Don’t let common threats put your critical AIX servers at risk. Avoid simple mistakes and start to build a long-term plan with this AIX Security eCourse. Enroll today to get easy to follow instructions on topics like:

    • Removing extraneous files
    • Patching systems efficiently
    • Setting and validating permissions
    • Managing service considerations
    • Getting overall visibility into your networks


  • Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.

    Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    HelpSystemsIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact


  • IBM i Resources Retiring?

    SB HelpSystems WC GenericLet’s face it: IBM i experts and RPG programmers are retiring from the workforce. Are you prepared to handle their departure?
    Our panel of IBM i experts—Chuck Losinski, Robin Tatam, Richard Schoen, and Tom Huntington—will outline strategies that allow your company to cope with IBM i skills depletion by adopting these strategies that allow you to get the job done without deep expertise on the OS:
    - Automate IBM i processes
    - Use managed services to help fill the gaps
    - Secure the system against data loss and viruses
    The strategies you discover in this webinar will help you ensure that your system of record—your IBM i—continues to deliver a powerful business advantage, even as staff retires.


  • Backup and Recovery Considerations for Security Data and Encrypted Backups

    SB PowerTech WC GenericSecurity expert Carol Woodbury is joined by Debbie Saugen. Debbie is an expert on IBM i backup and recovery, disaster recovery, and high availability, helping IBM i shops build and implement effective business continuity plans.
    In today’s business climate, business continuity is more important than ever. But 83 percent of organizations are not totally confident in their backup strategy.
    During this webinar, Carol and Debbie discuss the importance of a good backup plan, how to ensure you’re backing up your security information, and your options for encrypted back-ups.

  • Profound.js: The Agile Approach to Legacy Modernization

    SB Profound WC GenericIn this presentation, Alex Roytman and Liam Allan will unveil a completely new and unique way to modernize your legacy applications. Learn how Agile Modernization:
    - Uses the power of Node.js in place of costly system re-writes and migrations
    - Enables you to modernize legacy systems in an iterative, low-risk manner
    - Makes it easier to hire developers for your modernization efforts
    - Integrates with Profound UI (GUI modernization) for a seamless, end-to-end legacy modernization solution


  • Data Breaches: Is IBM i Really at Risk?

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIBM i is known for its security, but this OS could be more vulnerable than you think.
    Although Power Servers often live inside the safety of the perimeter firewall, the risk of suffering a data leak or data corruption remains high.
    Watch noted IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses common ways that this supposedly “secure” operating system may actually be vulnerable and who the culprits might be.

    Watch the webinar today!


  • Easy Mobile Development

    SB Profound WC GenericWatch this on-demand webinar and learn how to rapidly and easily deploy mobile apps to your organization – even when working with legacy RPG code! IBM Champion Scott Klement will demonstrate how to:
    - Develop RPG applications without mobile development experience
    - Deploy secure applications for any mobile device
    - Build one application for all platforms, including Apple and Android
    - Extend the life and reach of your IBM i (aka iSeries, AS400) platform
    You’ll see examples from customers who have used our products and services to deliver the mobile applications of their dreams, faster and easier than they ever thought possible!


  • Profound UI: Unlock True Modernization from your IBM i Enterprise

    SB Profound PPL 5491Modern, web-based applications can make your Enterprise more efficient, connected and engaged. This session will demonstrate how the Profound UI framework is the best and most native way to convert your existing RPG applications and develop new modern applications for your business. Additionally, you will learn how you can address modernization across your Enterprise, including databases and legacy source code, with Profound Logic.

  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.

    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).

  • 5 New and Unique Ways to Use the IBM i Audit Journal

    SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericYou must be asking yourself: am I doing everything I can to protect my organization’s data? Tune in as our panel of IBM i high availability experts discuss:

    - Why companies don’t test role swaps when they know they should
    - Whether high availability in the cloud makes sense for IBM i users
    - Why some organizations don’t have high availability yet
    - How to get high availability up and running at your organization
    - High availability considerations for today’s security concerns

  • Profound.js 2.0: Extend the Power of Node to your IBM i Applications

    SB Profound WC 5541In this Webinar, we'll demonstrate how Profound.js 2.0 enables you to easily adopt Node.js in your business, and to take advantage of the many benefits of Node, including access to a much larger pool of developers for IBM i and access to countless reusable open source code packages on npm (Node Package Manager).
    You will see how Profound.js 2.0 allows you to:

    • Provide RPG-like capabilities for server-side JavaScript.
    • Easily create web and mobile application interfaces for Node on IBM i.
    • Let existing RPG programs call Node.js modules directly, and vice versa.
    • Automatically generate code for Node.js.
    • Automatically converts existing RPGLE code into clean, simplified Node.js code.

    Download and watch today!


  • Make Modern Apps You'll Love with Profound UI & Profound.js

    SB Profound WC 5541Whether you have green screens or a drab GUI, your outdated apps can benefit from modern source code, modern GUIs, and modern tools.
    Profound Logic's Alex Roytman and Liam Allan are here to show you how Free-format RPG and Node.js make it possible to deliver applications your whole business will love:

    • Transform legacy RPG code to modern free-format RPG and Node.js
    • Deliver truly modern application interfaces with Profound UI
    • Extend your RPG applications to include Web Services and NPM packages with Node.js


  • Accelerating Programmer Productivity with Sequel


    Most business intelligence tools are just that: tools, a means to an end but not an accelerator. Yours could even be slowing you down. But what if your BI tool didn't just give you a platform for query-writing but also improved programmer productivity?
    Watch the recorded webinar to see how Sequel:

    • Makes creating complex results simple
    • Eliminates barriers to data sources
    • Increases flexibility with data usage and distribution

    Accelerated productivity makes everyone happy, from programmer to business user.

  • Business Intelligence is Changing: Make Your Game Plan

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIt’s time to develop a strategy that will help you meet your informational challenges head-on. Watch the webinar to learn how to set your IT department up for business intelligence success. You’ll learn how the right data access tool will help you:

    • Access IBM i data faster
    • Deliver useful information to executives and business users
    • Empower users with secure data access

    Ready to make your game plan and finally keep up with your data access requests?


  • Controlling Insider Threats on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericLet’s face facts: servers don’t hack other servers. Despite the avalanche of regulations, news headlines remain chock full of stories about data breaches, all initiated by insiders or intruders masquerading as insiders.
    User profiles are often duplicated or restored and are rarely reviewed for the appropriateness of their current configuration. This increases the risk of the profile being able to access data without the intended authority or having privileges that should be reserved for administrators.
    Watch security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses a new approach for onboarding new users on IBM i and best-practices techniques for managing and monitoring activities after they sign on.

  • Don't Just Settle for Query/400...

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWhile introducing Sequel Data Access, we’ll address common frustrations with Query/400, discuss major data access, distribution trends, and more advanced query tools. Plus, you’ll learn how a tool like Sequel lightens IT’s load by:

    - Accessing real-time data, so you can make real-time decisions
    - Providing run-time prompts, so users can help themselves
    - Delivering instant results in Microsoft Excel and PDF, without the wait
    - Automating the query process with on-demand data, dashboards, and scheduled jobs

  • How to Manage Documents the Easy Way

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWhat happens when your company depends on an outdated document management strategy?
    Everything is harder.
    You don’t need to stick with status quo anymore.
    Watch the webinar to learn how to put effective document management into practice and:

    • Capture documents faster, instead of wasting everyone’s time
    • Manage documents easily, so you can always find them
    • Distribute documents automatically, and move on to the next task


  • Lessons Learned from the AS/400 Breach

    SB_PowerTech_WC_GenericGet actionable info to avoid becoming the next cyberattack victim.
    In “Data breach digest—Scenarios from the field,” Verizon documented an AS/400 security breach. Whether you call it AS/400, iSeries, or IBM i, you now have proof that the system has been breached.
    Watch IBM i security expert Robin Tatam give an insightful discussion of the issues surrounding this specific scenario.
    Robin will also draw on his extensive cybersecurity experience to discuss policies, processes, and configuration details that you can implement to help reduce the risk of your system being the next victim of an attack.

  • Overwhelmed by Operating Systems?

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this 30-minute recorded webinar, our experts demonstrate how you can:

    • Manage multiple platforms from a central location
    • View monitoring results in a single pane of glass on your desktop or mobile device
    • Take advantage of best practice, plug-and-play monitoring templates
    • Create rules to automate daily checks across your entire infrastructure
    • Receive notification if something is wrong or about to go wrong

    This presentation includes a live demo of Network Server Suite.


  • Real-Time Disk Monitoring with Robot Monitor

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericYou need to know when IBM i disk space starts to disappear and where it has gone before system performance and productivity start to suffer. Our experts will show you how Robot Monitor can help you pinpoint exactly when your auxiliary storage starts to disappear and why, so you can start taking a proactive approach to disk monitoring and analysis. You’ll also get insight into:

    • The main sources of disk consumption
    • How to monitor temporary storage and QTEMP objects in real time
    • How to monitor objects and libraries in real time and near-real time
    • How to track long-term disk trends



  • Stop Re-keying Data Between IBM I and Other Applications

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericMany business still depend on RPG for their daily business processes and report generation.Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop re-keying data between IBM i and other applications? Or if you could stop replicating data and start processing orders faster? Or what if you could automatically extract data from existing reports instead of re-keying? It’s all possible. Watch this webinar to learn about:

    • The data dilemma
    • 3 ways to stop re-keying data
    • Data automation in practice

    Plus, see how HelpSystems data automation software will help you stop re-keying data.


  • The Top Five RPG Open Access Myths....BUSTED!

    SB_Profound_WC_GenericWhen it comes to IBM Rational Open Access: RPG Edition, there are still many misconceptions - especially where application modernization is concerned!

    In this Webinar, we'll address some of the biggest myths about RPG Open Access, including:

    • Modernizing with RPG OA requires significant changes to the source code
    • The RPG language is outdated and impractical for modernizing applications
    • Modernizing with RPG OA is the equivalent to "screen scraping"


  • Time to Remove the Paper from Your Desk and Become More Efficient

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericToo much paper is wasted. Attempts to locate documents in endless filing cabinets.And distributing documents is expensive and takes up far too much time.
    These are just three common reasons why it might be time for your company to implement a paperless document management system.
    Watch the webinar to learn more and discover how easy it can be to:

    • Capture
    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally


  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400


    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days


  • Ask the RDi Experts

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWatch this recording where Jim Buck, Susan Gantner, and Charlie Guarino answered your questions, including:

    • What are the “hidden gems” in RDi that can make me more productive?
    • What makes RDi Debug better than the STRDBG green screen debugger?
    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.


  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using as a pre-built development environment



  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.


  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption



  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access




  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.


  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.



  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.



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    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.