Sending Messages on IBM i, Part 2

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Part 1 investigated message queues and types of messages. Now we'll look at the CL commands that send messages.


Editor's note: This article is an excerpt from Chapter 16, "Advanced Message Handling," of Control Language Programming for IBM i. See Part 1 here.


Four major CL commands are used to send messages:

  • SNDMSG (Send Message)
  • SNDBRKMSG (Send Break Message)
  • SNDPGMMSG (Send Program Message)
  • SNDUSRMSG (Send User Message)


We discuss each of these commands individually.


The SNDMSG Command

The SNDMSG (Send Message) command sends immediate messages to one or more message queues. The term "immediate" refers to a message that is not predefined as a message in a message file. An immediate message is sometimes called an impromptu message. This command provides flexibility in specifying the message queue to which the message is sent and also lets you specify a message queue that will receive the reply to the message, if one is requested. The SNDMSG command takes the following form:


SNDMSG MSG(message-text) +

TOUSR(to-user-profile) +

TOMSGQ(message-queue-name) +

MSGTYPE(message-type) +



The MSG parameter lets you enter text for an impromptu message. The TOUSR and TOMSGQ parameters are mutually exclusive; you must specify one of the two, but not both.


The allowable values for the TOUSR parameter are *SYSOPR, *REQUESTER, *ALLACT, or a user profile name. If you specify *SYSOPR, the message is sent to the QSYSOPR message queue. If you specify *REQUESTER, the message is sent to the user message queue of the user running an interactive job or to QSYSOPR if the command is used in a batch job. To send the message to the message queue of all users currently signed on to the system, specify *ALLACT. If a user profile name is specified, the message is sent to the message queue specified in that user's user profile. If you do not enter the TOUSR parameter, you must specify the TOMSGQ parameter. The allowable values for TOMSGQ are *SYSOPR or the qualified names of up to 50 message queues. You can specify TOMSGQ(QHST) to send the message to the QHST message queue for inclusion in the system's history log.


The MSGTYPE parameter specifies the message as either an *INFO (informational) message or an *INQ (inquiry) message. If it is an *INQ message, you can specify only one message queue in the TOUSR or TOMSGQ parameter. The default value for the MSGTYPE parameter is *INFO. If the message is an *INQ message type, you can specify in the RPYMSGQ parameter the name of the message queue to which the reply to the message will be sent. The default value of the parameter is *WRKSTN; however, you can specify the name of any permanent message queue. When *WRKSTN is used, the reply is sent to the workstation message queue of the user running the interactive program; if the job is a batch job, the reply is sent to the QSYSOPR message queue.


The following command sends a message to all users currently signed on to the system:


SNDMSG MSG('The system will power down in 5 minutes') +



The next example sends an inquiry message; a reply will be sent to the workstation message queue of the user running the command interactively.


SNDMSG MSG('How about lunch today?') +





The SNDBRKMSG (Send Break Message) command, although similar to the SNDMSG command, has a few notable differences. You can use this command to send immediate messages only to workstation message queues. When you use SNDBRKMSG to send a message, the message is displayed immediately at its destination workstation. If the workstation to which the message is sent is currently active, the user will be interrupted. The SNDBRKMSG command takes the following form:


SNDBRKMSG MSG(message-text) +

TOMSGQ(to-message-queue) +

MSGTYPE(message-type) +



The MSG parameter lets you enter text for an impromptu message. The TOMSGQ parameter can contain the names of up to 50 workstation message queues or the value *ALLWS. If *ALLWS is specified, the message is sent to all the workstation message queues defined on the system, whether or not they are currently active.


The MSGTYPE parameter can be specified as *INFO or *INQ. If you specify *INQ, you can name only one message queue on the TOMSGQ parameter. Also, if you specify *INQ, you can enter the name of the message queue that will receive the reply to the message in the RPYMSGQ parameter; the default for this parameter is to send the reply to the QSYSOPR message queue.



The SNDPGMMSG (Send Program Message) command is quite flexible, but it can be used only within a CL program; it cannot be entered on a command line. You can use this command to send an immediate message or a predefined message from a CL program to any type of message queue on the system, including call stack entry message queues and the job's external message queue. The SNDPGMMSG command takes the following form for immediate messages:


SNDPGMMSG MSG(message-text) +

TOUSR(to-user-message-queue) +

TOMSGQ(to-message-queue) +

TOPGMQ(to-program-message-queue) +

MSGTYPE(message-type) +

RPYMSGQ(reply-message-queue) +



For predefined messages, SNDPGMMSG takes this form:


SNDPGMMSG MSGID(message-identifier) +

MSGF(qualified-message-file-name) +

MSGDTA(message-substitution-data) +

TOUSR(to-user-message-queue) +

TOMSGQ(to-message-queue) +

TOPGMQ(to-program-message-queue) +

MSGTYPE(message-type) +

RPYMSGQ(reply-message-queue) +



For immediate messages, you would specify the text in the MSG parameter. For predefined messages, use the MSGID, MSGF, and MSGDTA parameters. The MSG parameter cannot be specified if the MSGID, MSGF, or MSGDTA parameters are specified. Certain message types can be sent only using predefined messages; we talk about this restriction later when we discuss the MSGTYPE parameter.


When you send a predefined message, you specify the identifier of the message to be sent as well as the message file in which the message is defined. For example, to send the message CPF9871 from the QCPFMSG message file, you would specify




This command would send the message "Error occurred while processing."


Some messages let you specify message substitution data, using the MSGDTA parameter. CPF9898 is a special blank message provided by IBM; the text consists solely of whatever is in the message data. Consider the following example:



MSGDTA('Cannot find tax rate file')


In this example, we send message CPF9898 with the data specified on the MSGDTA parameter.


You can specify either the TOUSR parameter or the TOMSGQ parameter on the SNDPGMMSG command, but not both. The allowable values for the TOUSR parameter are *SYSOPR, *REQUESTER, *ALLACT, or a user profile name. The rules for the TOUSR parameter are the same as those used on the SNDMSG command. The allowable values for the TOMSGQ parameter are *TOPGMQ (the default), *SYSOPR, or a list of up to 50 qualified message queue names. When *TOPGMQ is specified, the message is sent to the call message queue named on the TOPGMQ parameter.


The TOPGMQ parameter is used to specify the call stack message queue to which the message will be sent; by default, it directs messages to the calling program's (or procedure's) message queue. This parameter has two elements that can be specified. The first element specifies a relationship, and the second element specifies a program used for the relationship. (Because the TOPGMQ parameter can be confusing, the sidebar "The TOPGMQ Parameter" offers additional explanation.)


The MSGTYPE parameter lets you specify which message type is to be sent to the message queue. The allowable values are *INFO (the default), *INQ, *COMP, *DIAG, *NOTIFY, *ESCAPE, *RQS, and *STATUS.


You need to be aware of certain restrictions, depending on the type of message you are sending. An *INQ (inquiry) message cannot be sent to a call stack entry message queue. If an *INQ type message is sent, the reply can only be accessed using the RCVMSG (Receive Message) command. *COMP, *DIAG, *ESCAPE, *NOTIFY, and *STATUS messages can be sent only to a call message queue or to a job's *EXT (external) message queue. *ESCAPE, *NOTIFY, and *STATUS messages can be sent only if the message is predefined in a message file; the MSGID parameter must be specified.


The RPYMSGQ parameter lets you specify, for *INQ and *NOTIFY message types, which message queue will receive the reply to the message. This message queue may be any type of message queue except the *EXT job message queue. When an *INQ or *NOTIFY message is sent, the default for RPYMSGQ is *PGMQ. This means that the reply will be sent to the call message queue of the program sending the message. You can also specify the qualified name of a message queue.


The last parameter of the SNDPGMMSG command, KEYVAR, is used to retrieve the value of the message key and place that value into a CL program variable. Remember that each message queue uses a message key to keep track of messages within the queue. The message key is not a decimal number such as 1, 2, 3, or 4, but rather an internal number that the system generates when you send a message to a message queue. You specify the KEYVAR parameter as a CL variable: KEYVAR(&variable). You must declare the CL variable as follows:


DCL &variable *CHAR 4


You might want to retrieve the value of the generated message key so that later in a program you can selectively receive or remove a particular message. We describe this technique in more detail when we cover the RCVMSG and RMVMSG commands later in this chapter.


The following examples illustrate use of the SNDPGMMSG command.


To send a completion message to the previous program's message queue:


SNDPGMMSG MSG('Program successfully completed') +



To send an escape message to the previous program's message queue and cause the current program to end immediately:




MSGDTA('Program ended abnormally') +



To send a status message to the external message queue:




MSGDTA('Now processing Step 1.') +




For an interactive job, the message sent by this command is shown on the message line of the workstation. The message does not appear in the job log.


To send an informational message to the call message queue used by program PGM1:


SNDPGMMSG MSG('Pgm3 working ok') +




When this message is placed into the message queue, the message key assigned by the system is returned to the program and placed into the CL variable &msgkey, which is defined as *CHAR 4.



The final command used to send messages is the SNDUSRMSG (Send User Message) command. Like SNDPGMMSG, this command can be used only within a CL program; it cannot be entered on a command line. You can use the SNDUSRMSG command to send an immediate message or a predefined message, but not to send a message to a call stack entry message queue. The SNDUSRMSG command includes useful features not available with other message commands. For example, you can both send a message and receive the reply to the message with this one command. You can check for the validity of a reply and optionally translate replies from lower case to upper case.


When sending impromptu messages, the SNDUSRMSG command uses the following format:


SNDUSRMSG MSG(message-text) +

TOUSR(to-user-message-queue) +

TOMSGQ(to-message-queue) +

MSGTYPE(message-type) +

VALUES(list-of-allowable-replies) +

DFT(default-reply-value) +

MSGRPY(message-reply) +



When using predefined messages, the SNDUSRMSG command takes the following form:


SNDUSRMSG MSGID(message-identifier) +

MSGF(qualified-message-file-name) +

MSGDTA(message-substitution-data) +

TOUSR(to-user-message-queue) +

TOMSGQ(to-message-queue) +

MSGTYPE(message-type) +

VALUES(list-of-allowable-replies) +

DFT(default-reply-value) +

MSGRPY(message-reply) +



The MSG, MSGID, MSGF, and MSGDTA parameters work the same for this command as they do for the SNDPGMMSG command.


You can specify either the TOUSR parameter or the TOMSGQ parameter, but not both. When you specify the TOUSR parameter, the allowable values are *SYSOPR, *REQUESTER, or the name of a user profile to which you want to send the message.


When you specify the TOMSGQ parameter, the allowable values are *, *SYSOPR, *EXT, or the qualified name of a message queue. If * is specified and the program is running interactively, the message is sent to the job's external message queue; if it is a batch job, the message is sent to the QSYSOPR message queue. If *SYSOPR is specified, the message is sent to the QSYSOPR message queue. If *EXT is specified, the message is sent to the job's external message queue. However, if the job is a batch job and the message is an *INQ message type, the default reply is always returned to the program.


The MSGTYPE parameter identifies the type of message that will be sent. The allowable values are *INFO and *INQ (the default). For *INQ messages, several other parameters are available: VALUES, DFT, MSGRPY, and TRNTBL. These additional parameters are used only with *INQ messages.


The VALUES parameter is used to specify the allowable values that can be used to reply to this message. You can specify up to 20 different valid replies. When sending an *INQ message to a user, you must enter an allowable value, or an error message is issued to the user and the message is resent automatically. When you specify the VALUES parameter, you must also specify the MSGRPY parameter.


The DFT parameter contains the default reply that will be used for this message. If, when a recipient is presented with an INQ message, he or she presses the Enter key, the DFT value is returned to the program. When you specify the DFT parameter, you must also specify the MSGRPY parameter.


The MSGRPY parameter identifies the variable to hold the message's reply. When a user is sent the *INQ message type and a reply is entered, the reply is returned to the program and placed into the CL variable specified on the MSGRPY parameter. If you wanted to store the message reply in a variable named &reply, for example, you would specify MSGRPY(&reply).


The TRNTBL parameter lets you specify that any reply value a user enters be translated before it is placed into the variable specified on the MSGRPY parameter. The default value of this parameter is *LIBL/QSYSTRNTBL. QSYSTRNTBL is a translation table used to translate lower case characters into upper case. You may specify the name of a different translation table or use *NONE for no translation.


Let's look at a couple of examples of using the SNDUSRMSG command. First, the following command sends an *INQ message to the QSYSOPR message queue and allows the values C and G to be entered in reply.


SNDUSRMSG MSG('Please load the IRS Tape #5 (C G)') +



DFT(C) +



C is the default reply value. The reply entered by the system operator will be placed into variable &reply, which in this case would be declared as *CHAR 1. After the program issues the SNDUSRMSG command, it waits until a reply is received before processing any further.


To send an informational message to an *EXT message queue (if running in an interactive job) or to the QSYSOPR message queue (if used in a batch job), you might use this command:




MSGDTA(&message) +




The text of the message is in the &message variable. The external message queue is displayed on a workstation as the Program Messages display.


Jim Buck
Jim Buck's career in IT has spanned more than 35 years, primarily in the college education, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. Past president (13 years) of the Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association, he has served on several teams developing IBM and COMMON certification tests. Jim has co-authored several IBM i textbooks with Bryan Meyers that are used by many companies and in colleges worldwide. Other accomplishments include: recipient of the 2007 IBM System i Innovation - Education Excellence Award, 2014 COMMON President's Award, and 2013/2016/2017 IBM Champion - Power Systems.

Jim is the president and founder of imPower Technologies, where he provides professional IBM i training and consulting services. He is active in the IBM i community, working to help companies train their employees in the latest IBM technologies and develop the next generation of IBM i professionals.

MC Press books written by Jim Buck available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

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    • 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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  • 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.