The AS/400 Operational Assistant (OA) is a menu-driven interface that allows you to perform a multitude of system tasks quickly and easily. OA was designed as an integral part of the operating system; the functions are ready to use when you install OS/400. OA simplifies everyday tasks, like controlling printer output, controlling jobs, handling messages, and setting up schedules for automatic power on and off, automatic cleanup, and automatic backup. It also assists you in managing your system, including the devices attached to your system, users enrolled on the system, users signed on, and disk space storage. You can do all of these tasks and more by selecting options from the various OA menus. In this article, I'll show you how to take advantage of the many benefits OA has to offer.
You can display the main OA menu shown in 1 by typing GO ASSIST on any command line and pressing Enter. You must have a user class of at least system operator (*SYSOPR) to have access to all of the OA menu options. You can configure users so that they are presented with the ASSIST menu whenever they press the Attention (Attn) key. You can also code your own application menus so that when users select an option they are presented with the ASSIST menu.
You can display the main OA menu shown in Figure 1 by typing GO ASSIST on any command line and pressing Enter. You must have a user class of at least system operator (*SYSOPR) to have access to all of the OA menu options. You can configure users so that they are presented with the ASSIST menu whenever they press the Attention (Attn) key. You can also code your own application menus so that when users select an option they are presented with the ASSIST menu.
Are You in Command?
The ASSIST menu is not the only OA menu; there are many others. The GO command gets you to any menu on the AS/400 quickly and easily. Type GO plus the menu ID on any command line, then press the Enter key. The menu ID is shown in the top left corner of the display. To obtain a list of all of the menus on the system, including those of the OA, use either of these commands.
WRKMNU MENU(*ALL) GO MENU(*ALL)
As you become experienced on the AS/400, you may find it easier to perform some tasks using commands rather than menus. How you gain access to a command line depends on your assistance level (discussed in the next section). To display a command line when you are using the basic assistance level, press F9 (Command line). When you are using the intermediate or the advanced assistance level, you usually already have a command line at the bottom of your display. You can type any CL command on this command line. To restrict a user from using a command line, type N (No) in the Restrict command line use field on the Add User or Change User screen. You can access these screens from the Work with User Enrollment display. To find this display, type GO SETUP and select option 10 (Work with user enrollment) or use the command below.
WRKUSRPRF USRPRF(*ALL) + ASTLVL(*BASIC)
You can also restrict a user from the command line by specifying *YES for the Limit capabilities (LMTCPB) parameter of the user profile. You can use the Change User Profile (CHGUSRPRF) or Create User Profile (CRTUSRPRF) commands to change the limit capabilities parameter.
If you know the name of a command, type it on a command line and press F4 (Prompt). All of the parameters required for that command will be displayed. Press the Help key or F1 (Help) while your cursor is on any field to get an explanation of the field's function and a list of the possible values you can type in the field. If you don't know the name of the command you want, you can press F4 (Prompt) while your cursor is on a command line to display the Major Command Groups menu. Then you can begin your search for the command you want.
As You Like It
With any of the OA displays, you can choose from three levels of information- called assistance levels-when you interact with the system. The basic level presents displays that provide you the most assistance. Basic assistance level displays support the more common operator and user tasks in nontechnical terms. The intermediate level displays support all system tasks and use computer terminology. Some of the more complicated tasks can be done using this level. The advanced level displays provide the same functions as the intermediate assistance level; however, the displays contain as much information as possible by not displaying the available function keys and options. The advanced assistance level is only available for some displays.
You can change from one assistance level to another on most OA displays by pressing F21 (Select assistance level) to show the Select Assistance Level window. The value displayed in the Assistance level field shows the level you are currently using and what levels are available. Select option 1 for basic, 2 for intermediate, or 3 for advanced. Your display will then correspond to the assistance level you selected.
You can also change the assistance level by typing the command you want to run followed by ASTLVL(xxx) where xxx is *BASIC, *INTERMED, or *ADVANCED. You can designate the assistance level for the following CL commands:
o DSPMSG-Display Messages o DSPSYSSTS-Display System Status o WRKCFGSTS-Work with Configuration Status o WRKMSG-Work with Messages o WRKSPLF-Work with Spooled Files o WRKSYSSTS-Work with System Status o WRKUSRJOB-Work with User Jobs o WRKUSRPRF-Work with User Profiles o WRKWTR-Work with Writers o CHGPRF-Change Profile o CRTUSRPRF-Create User Profile o CHGUSRPRF-Change User Profile
For example, to change the assistance level for the Work with User Jobs (WRKUSRJOB) command and reach the Work with Signed-On Users display, use this command.
WRKUSRJOB USER(*ALL) + STATUS(*ACTIVE) + JOBTYPE(*INTERACT) + ASTLVL(*BASIC)
If you type the WRKUSRJOB command and then press F4 (Prompt), you'll need to press F10 (Additional parameters) to display the ASTLVL parameter. If you enter the WRKUSRJOB command without the ASTLVL parameter, you can still change it by pressing F21 (Select assistance level) and selecting option 1 (Basic).
When you select the assistance level of a command by specifying it on the ASTLVL parameter, the assistance level is good for only one execution of the command; subsequent executions revert to the default value. When you select the assistance level by pressing F21 on a command's display, the assistance level you choose is maintained through subsequent executions of the command.
The assistance level is set for each command, so you can use the basic assistance level for some displays and the intermediate assistance level for other displays. For each command, select the assistance level that you feel most comfortable working with and that allows you to get your work done the easiest way. Your assistance level for each command is stored so that each time you sign on, your assistance level remains the same.
You can also store the assistance level in your user profile. To change the Assistance level attribute for a user profile, use the Change User Profile (CHGUSRPRF) command. You cause the system to use the assistance level specified in your user profile by specifying *USRPRF in the assistance level (ASTLVL) parameter of a command.
The Core Menus of Operational Assistant
A number of menus make up the core of OA, starting with the ASSIST menu. They are DISKETTE, FILE, FOLDER, LIBRARY, PROBLEM, RESTORE, STATUS, SYSTEM and TAPE. Descriptions of all these menus can be found in the accompanying sidebar. You can get directly to any of these menus from any display having a command line by typing GO plus the menu ID.
Operational Assistant Callable Programs
Other functional and flexible parts of OA are user exits and application program interfaces (APIs). User exits are user-written programs that the operating system automatically calls when a certain predefined event occurs. For example, the OA backup facility allows you to specify a user exit program which runs before and after the backup. This allows you to perform your own processing along with the OA backup. The operational assistant APIs are a set of system supplied programs which give you access to OA functions. Some of the common operational assistant APIs are shown in 2. For more information on user exits and APIs, refer to the System Programmer's Interface Reference.
Other functional and flexible parts of OA are user exits and application program interfaces (APIs). User exits are user-written programs that the operating system automatically calls when a certain predefined event occurs. For example, the OA backup facility allows you to specify a user exit program which runs before and after the backup. This allows you to perform your own processing along with the OA backup. The operational assistant APIs are a set of system supplied programs which give you access to OA functions. Some of the common operational assistant APIs are shown in Figure 2. For more information on user exits and APIs, refer to the System Programmer's Interface Reference.
A Parting Thought
The interface that OA provides can help you in many ways. You can live within a decreasing budget by spending less money on products that are now integrated parts of OS/400. You can reduce your backlogs by using your time to tackle the real issues facing your business rather than coddle the system.
I hope that this discussion of OA has provided you with some ammunition to bolster your strategy as you face the daily war in information technology.
Mark Cannon is an independent consultant with more than 12 years of Information Systems experience. He can be reached through Midrange Computing.
AS/400 Operator's Guide (SC41-8082, CD-ROM QBKA9D02).
Basic Security Guide (SC41-0047, CD-ROM QBKA9K01).
New User's Guide (SC41-8211, CD-ROM QBKA9B02).
System Programmer's Interface Reference (SC41-8223, CD-ROM QBKA8402).
The Operational Assistant Menus
The Operational Assistant (ASSIST) menu simplifies some common user tasks, such as changing your password and working with printer output, jobs, and messages. In addition, users with proper authority can select options to manage or customize the system, check the system status, clean up objects, power the system on and off, enroll users, change some system options, and collect disk space information.
The Manage Your System, Users, and Devices (MANAGESYS) menu allows you to display what activity is going on in the system, run a backup, and work with system messages, printer output, jobs, signed-on users, and devices on the system. You can even access options to customize your system, users, or devices.
The Run a Backup (RUNBCKUP) menu lets you select a menu option to specify the type of backup you want to run-daily, weekly, or monthly. You can back up all IBM-supplied libraries or the entire system.
The Device Status (DEVICESTS) menu allows you to choose options for printing your local device addresses as well as for working with system devices, such as display stations, printers, tape drives, and diskette drives.
The Customize Your System, Users, and Devices (SETUP) menu lets you change system options, cleanup tasks, power functions, disk space tasks, backup options, and communication configuration tasks. Assuming you have the authority, you may also change passwords for IBM-supplied user profiles.
The Cleanup (CLEANUP) menu allows you to start, end, or change automatic cleanup. The cleanup function deletes old job logs, history logs, messages, office calendar items, and journal receivers that take up storage space. The callable program is QEZUSRCLNP.
The Power On and Off Tasks (POWER) menu displays the power on and off schedule. If you have the authority, you can change the schedule or power off the system and then power it on again. The callable program is QEZPWROFFP.
The Disk Space Tasks (DISKTASKS) menu shows how storage is being used on your system by collecting disk space information from libraries, folders, and general objects to help. After collecting the information, you can specify that information to include in a report and then print the report.
The Backup Tasks (BACKUP) menu allows you to run a backup, display backup status, set up a backup, and initialize individual or sets of tapes used during a backup.
The Set Up Backup (SETUPBCKUP) menu lets you change backup options (daily, weekly, or monthly), the library and folder backup lists, and the backup schedules. For a more in-depth review of these functions, see "The Operational Assistant Backup Facility," MC, August 1994.
The Information and Problem Handling (USERHELP) menu provides information about the system and is useful in resolving problems. Besides providing access to the TECHHELP menu, the options include How to use help, Information Assistant options, Display work station user, and Save information to resolve a problem.
The Information Assistant Options (INFO) menu shows you where to look for information about your AS/400 system and how to comment on that information. You can use this menu to find out what is new in this release of OS/400 and what new enhancements and functions will be available in the next release.
The Technical Support Tasks (TECHHELP) menu provides options to help resolve problems on the system by displaying system operator messages, working with program temporary fixes (PTFs), performing the copy screen function, and accessing technical support.
The Communications Configuration (CMNCFG) menu configures communications to other AS/400s, S/36s, or remote work station controllers and attached devices.
The Diskette (DISKETTE) menu allows you to display diskette information; work with device status; or initialize, print, save, or restore the disk. The related option includes 14 additional commands and three other menus from which to select tasks.
The Files (FILE) menu allows you to work with files, save or restore a file, or edit a source file. Other options include Interactive Data Definition Utility (IDDU), Query Utilities, Data File Utility (DFU), Interactive SQL, and an option to access the Programmer menu. Related options include 14 commands and access to 15 other menus.
The Folders (FOLDER) menu manages folders. Folders can be used to store other folders and documents. In Work with folders you can display, save or restore them-even from S/36 format. There are five related commands and two additional menus.
The Libraries (LIBRARY) menu allows you to work with libraries by creating, saving, or restoring them, even in S/36 format. You can access 18 related library commands and four other menus.
The Problem Handling (PROBLEM) menu includes Question and answer, Work with problems, Network problem handling, Display system operator messages, Display the history log, and System service tools (SST). There are numerous additional options and commands attached to 13 related menus. The callable program is QEZSAVIN.
The Restore (RESTORE) menu allows you to restore saved information from a diskette, a tape, or a save file (SAVF) on the system. Information that can be restored includes files, libraries, documents and folders, programs, other objects, licensed programs, configuration, and user profiles. You can even restore the entire system.
The Status (STATUS) menu displays the status of jobs, devices, and system activities.
The General System Tasks (SYSTEM) menu controls system operations, devices, and all jobs on the system.
The Tape (TAPE) menu lets you use and control tape devices by displaying tape information; initializing, printing, saving, restoring, or verifying a tape; or working with tape device status. The related option includes 12 additional commands and two other menus from which to select tasks.
AS/400 Basics: AS/400 Operational Assistant
Figure 1 The Operational Assistant Menu
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AS/400 Basics: AS/400 Operational Assistant
Figure 2 Operational Assistant APIsAPI Description Command QEZOUTPT Work with Printer Output WRKSPLF QEZBCHJB Work with Jobs WRKUSRJOB + JOBTYPE(*BATCH) QEZMSG Work with Messages WRKMSG or DSPMSG QEZSNDMG Send a Message Not applicable QEZUSRCLNP Clean up the system Not applicable QEZPWROFFP Power off the system PWRDWNSYS + OPTION(*IMMED) QEZMAIN Operational Assistant Not applicable attention-key-handling (with group jobs) QEZAST Operational Assistant GO MENU (ASSIST) attention-key-handling (without group jobs) QEZSAVIN Save Information to Not applicable Help Resolve a Problem