TechTip: DB2 Web Query and Excel Spreadsheets: Easy as Pie! Part III

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Did you know DB2 Web Query can send reports directly to Excel spreadsheets? Learn some tips that will help you easily and quickly build Excel spreadsheets.


In my previous article in this series, TechTip: DB2 Web Query and Excel Spreadsheets: Easy as Pie! Part II, I showed you some DB2 Web Query techniques that generated multiple worksheets within an Excel spreadsheet. In this article, we continue the discussion on combining these two technologies by focusing on two special Excel output format options: Excel with formulas and pivot tables.

Excel with Formulas

If you have any experience working with Excel spreadsheets, you probably have written some cell formulas to perform calculations based on the values in other cells. This is very useful when the values of those referenced cells are changed. For example, if you have cell C3 that calculates profit margin based on cell C1 that contains revenue and a third cell C2 that contains cost of goods sold, profit margin will be recalculated if the spreadsheet user changes the value for either revenue or cost of goods sold. Had the profit margin cell contained a value rather than a formula, it would not have this dynamic capability. If a user changed the value of the other cells, a hard-coded value for profit margin would obviously be incorrect.


This is a very simple, yet important feature of Excel, and DB2 Web Query can take advantage of it. For example, you may have reports that contain subtotals that are calculated at various "break levels" (whenever the report reaches the end of a Sort By value). These subtotal cells are calculated and, as such, are natural candidates for formula-based cells. Grand totals that appear at the end of the report also fall into this category. And don't forget about computed fields like profit margin, cost ratio, and returns percentages; these are fields that typically aren't stored in your database and often need to be calculated on the fly. Cell formulas are the way to go here, particularly if your Excel users intend to make any changes to the cell values in the spreadsheet. Turning on this feature in DB2 Web Query is quite easy. Simply select the Excel output format option titled Excel Formula as demonstrated in Figure 1.



Figure 1: Select Excel Formula.


Here are a couple of considerations when determining which Excel output format option to select:

  1. The other Excel formats (Excel,  Excel 2007, and Excel Pivot) do not  generate forumulas. Cells containing computed fields, subtotals, and grand totals contain values that are resolved at report execution time.
  2. Excel Formula will generate a .xls (Excel 2000) file.


In my example report, I'm sorting by the fields Country, Region, and Store Name. For my Sum fields, I specified Quantity and Returns. I also have a computed field named ReturnsPct that calculates the rate of product returns for each Sort By field. The defintion of this computed field is shown in Figure 2.



Figure 2: Here's an example of a computed field.


At this point, my report definition looks like the example provided in Figure 3.



Figure 3: This example shows the report definition.


Finally, I would like to break on the Region report column and calculate subtotals. Figure 4 shows how to activate column subtotaling by right-clicking on the Region column.



Figure 4: Set up column subtotals.


When this report is run, the Excel spreadsheet is opened as shown in Figure 5.



Figure 5: The report results go directly to Excel.


The report looks good, but how do I know if formulas were generated for my computed field (ReturnsPct) cells and the cells that contain subtotals? There's an easy Excel trick to verify this. Simply hold down the Ctrl key and press the tilde (~) key on the keyboard to display cell formulas instead of the actual values.


Notice in Figure 6 that the subtotal cells are based on a SUM formula for that column and that the ReturnsPct is based on a formula that matches the computed field definition. ReturnsPct is also calculated at the subtotal level by applying that same formula to the other subtotal values!



Figure 6: Show the formulas.


Now if an analyst runs this report and changes values to perform some "what if" scenarios, the values for subtotals, grand totals, and ReturnsPct will be calcualted dynamically and will remain accurate!

Pivot Tables

A very powerful feature in Excel is the pivot table. If you're unfamiliar with pivot tables, I strongly encourage you to give them a try! They provide an interactive "drag and drop" interface for summarizing and analyzing a large amount of data. Within this interface, you can analyze, sort, filter, compare, and discover trends in your data. You can pivot (or "transpose") the data very easily and quickly. This in effect moves rows to columns (or vice versa). And because the report has already been run and the data has been downloaded to the spreadsheet, the performance is quite impressive. Heck, it almost makes analyzing your data a fun task instead of a chore!


There are many online resources for learning about pivot tables and how to create and use them (just use your favorite search engine), so I'm just going to focus on how you can create DB2 Web Query reports and send the data directly into a pivot table.


When you create a report in DB2 Web Query, the default behavior is to summarize the data. This means that the data will be aggregated (grouped) on the Sort By fields that you specify. Because Pivot Tables summarize the data in the spreadsheet, I actually do not want DB2 Web Query to perform the summarization. Instead, I want to create a detail report where a row is included for each row that's retrieved from the database. To change the report from a Sum to a Print report, simply right-click on the Sum line and change it to Print as shown in Figure 7.



Figure 7: Change Sum to Print.


In my example report, I include several measure fields and sort by Product Type, Product Category, and Product Name. I specified Country as a sort across field. The definition is shown in Figure 8.



Figure 8: This is the report definition for my pivot table.


Just as with Excel Formulas, sending your output to a pivot table is a breeze. Simply select the Excel output format option titled Excel Pivot as demonstrated in Figure 9.



Figure 9: Make it an Excel pivot table!


When the report runs, the output is opened in Excel. Notice in my example in Figure 10 how the data is summarized. Also notice the interfaces and tools; they provide multiple ways to manipulate the report to perform thorough analysis of the data.



Figure 10: Here's the Excel pivot table output.


Again, if you haven't done so already, I recommend doing some research and familiarizing yourself with all the features and benefits of Excel pivot tables. Once you get the hang of it, you just might find yourself spending hours doing data analysis!


In this article, I talked about a couple of additional DB2 Web Query output options to Excel. In my final article in this series, I'll introduce you to the DB2 Web Query Spreadsheet Client, an Excel add-in that lets you create or run DB2 Web Query reports from within the Excel framework. This allows you to leverage and reuse your existing spreadsheets and templates, and pull data down into them using DB2 Web Querysomething you might find very useful!


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



Support MC Press Online





  • White Paper: Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization

    SB Profound WP 5539

    If your business is thinking about modernizing your legacy IBM i (also known as AS/400 or iSeries) applications, you will want to read this white paper first!

    Download this paper and learn how Node.js can ensure that you:
    - Modernize on-time and budget - no more lengthy, costly, disruptive app rewrites!
    - Retain your IBM i systems of record
    - Find and hire new development talent
    - Integrate new Node.js applications with your existing RPG, Java, .Net, and PHP apps
    - Extend your IBM i capabilties to include Watson API, Cloud, and Internet of Things

    Read Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization Now!


  • Profound Logic Solution Guide

    SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation.
    Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects.
    The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the companyare not aligned with the current IT environment.

    Get your copy of this important guide today!


  • 2022 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

    Fortra2022 marks the eighth edition of the IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, Fortra captures data on how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT and cybersecurity initiatives it supports.

    Over the years, this survey has become a true industry benchmark, revealing to readers the trends that are shaping and driving the market and providing insight into what the future may bring for this technology.

  • Brunswick bowls a perfect 300 with LANSA!

    FortraBrunswick is the leader in bowling products, services, and industry expertise for the development and renovation of new and existing bowling centers and mixed-use recreation facilities across the entertainment industry. However, the lifeblood of Brunswick’s capital equipment business was running on a 15-year-old software application written in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) with a SQL Server back-end. The application was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced.
    With the help of Visual LANSA, they found an easy-to-use, long-term platform that enabled their team to collaborate, innovate, and integrate with existing systems and databases within a single platform.
    Read the case study to learn how they achieved success and increased the speed of development by 30% with Visual LANSA.


  • Progressive Web Apps: Create a Universal Experience Across All Devices

    LANSAProgressive Web Apps allow you to reach anyone, anywhere, and on any device with a single unified codebase. This means that your applications—regardless of browser, device, or platform—instantly become more reliable and consistent. They are the present and future of application development, and more and more businesses are catching on.
    Download this whitepaper and learn:

    • How PWAs support fast application development and streamline DevOps
    • How to give your business a competitive edge using PWAs
    • What makes progressive web apps so versatile, both online and offline



  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • Why Migrate When You Can Modernize?

    LANSABusiness users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.
    In this white paper, you’ll learn how to think of these issues as opportunities rather than problems. We’ll explore motivations to migrate or modernize, their risks and considerations you should be aware of before embarking on a (migration or modernization) project.
    Lastly, we’ll discuss how modernizing IBM i applications with optimized business workflows, integration with other technologies and new mobile and web user interfaces will enable IT – and the business – to experience time-added value and much more.


  • UPDATED: 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

    FortraIT 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


  • 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



  • 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.

  • 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.



  • Encryption on IBM i Simplified

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDB2 Field Procedures (FieldProcs) were introduced in IBM i 7.1 and have greatly simplified encryption, often without requiring any application changes. Now you can quickly encrypt sensitive data on the IBM i including PII, PCI, PHI data in your physical files and tables.
    Watch this webinar to learn how you can quickly implement encryption on the IBM i. During the webinar, security expert Robin Tatam will show you how to:

    • Use Field Procedures to automate encryption and decryption
    • Restrict and mask field level access by user or group
    • Meet compliance requirements with effective key management and audit trails


  • Lessons Learned from IBM i Cyber Attacks

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDespite the many options IBM has provided to protect your systems and data, many organizations still struggle to apply appropriate security controls.
    In this webinar, you'll get insight into how the criminals accessed these systems, the fallout from these attacks, and how the incidents could have been avoided by following security best practices.

    • Learn which security gaps cyber criminals love most
    • Find out how other IBM i organizations have fallen victim
    • Get the details on policies and processes you can implement to protect your organization, even when staff works from home

    You will learn the steps you can take to avoid the mistakes made in these examples, as well as other inadequate and misconfigured settings that put businesses at risk.



  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    SB PowerTech WC GenericWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



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

    SB Profound WC GenericHave 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).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    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

    FortraRobot 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

    FortraRobot 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.