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The AS/400 Report Download Utility

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Suppose a user in accounting uses his PC spreadsheet package to produce reports, such as financial statements. This user wants to take information from the AS/400 and move it into a PC spreadsheet to process it or spruce it up for presentation.

Such an operation is a nuisance for the programmer because of the steps involved.

o Convert the data on the AS/400 into a format that is meaningful to the user when it is downloaded to the PC.

o Use PC Support to get the data to the PC by creating a transfer request and downloading the data.

o Once the file is on the PC, import it to a spreadsheet package, like Lotus or Excel, then parse the file (parsing is the process of assigning text data to spreadsheet columns).

o Finally, strip extra baggage like page headings.

While this process is effective, it's too clumsy to perform on an ongoing basis.

The user-driven AS/400 Report Download Utility performs all these steps, freeing programmers and users to spend their time more productively.

The utility is an example of Visual Basic (VB) client/server coding. It is a client/server application that allows PC users to download an AS/400 report into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, Microsoft Word document, or PC text file- all from a Windows-based PC.

There are no PC Support transfer requests, file description files (FDFs), or intermediate steps-the PC Support router is a direct conduit. So instead of programmers downloading data to PCs, users can download data themselves by following these simple steps.

o Generate a query on the AS/400 to collect and summarize the data into report form or run an existing AS/400 report. The report is not printed; it's kept in an output queue.

o Call the Report Download Utility from the PC. To display a list of spooled files, enter an output queue name or select one from the list.

o Select and download a spooled file. Once the data is downloaded, the utility also can run a specified macro to do parsing, stripping, formatting, calculating, printing, and anything else the PC program is capable of.

o Without leaving the download utility, select the next file to be downloaded, or simply begin processing the information using the PC application.

The macro is attached to the download process, so the process is automated for the user's future use. The next time the user wants to download the same report, the macro is called again, thereby automating the entire process.

The utility is useful because of its ability to automatically run an Excel or Word macro over the downloaded data. The utility downloads a spooled file to a PC spreadsheet or document and then invokes saved macro instructions to process the data. The macros must be prerecorded and stored in a macro sheet (Excel) or a template (Word) before the utility can execute them.

This utility can be modified to work with other products, such as WordPerfect or Lotus 1-2-3. Programmers who want to modify the VB source code must use Microsoft's Visual Basic.

The Client/Server Platform

The AS/400 Report Download utility is a nuts-and-bolts client/server application. The components are simple and common: a VB program, an RPG program, CL programs, physical files, and an Intersystem Communication Function (ICF) file.

The link from the PC Support router to the RPG partner program is achieved through the ICF file. Support for the functions of ICF files is built into OS/400 and PC Support for Windows.

A standard Advanced Program-to-Program Communications (APPC) relationship, established through the PC Support router, maintains the link between the AS/400 and the PC. Data is then transported over the link.

Some of the data passed back and forth takes the form of messages from one program to the other. The PC program sends requests to the AS/400 program. The AS/400 collects the requested information and sends it back with messages telling the PC the status of the request.

For information on installing this utility, see the accompanying sidebar.

How to Use It

To use this utility, the user starts PC Support and Windows. The utility uses only the PC Support router; it doesn't require any workstation function (WSF) sessions. Once PC Support is started, the user launches the utility the same way he would launch any other Windows application-by double-clicking the icon (see 1). The install process creates a program group and two icons.

To use this utility, the user starts PC Support and Windows. The utility uses only the PC Support router; it doesn't require any workstation function (WSF) sessions. Once PC Support is started, the user launches the utility the same way he would launch any other Windows application-by double-clicking the icon (see Figure 1). The install process creates a program group and two icons.

The utility checks to make sure that the PC Support router is loaded. Next, it checks the standard installation directories for Microsoft Excel and Word. The opening screen for the utility is then presented (see 2).

The utility checks to make sure that the PC Support router is loaded. Next, it checks the standard installation directories for Microsoft Excel and Word. The opening screen for the utility is then presented (see Figure 2).

The user can specify an output queue or click on Browse Outqs to present a list of the output queues to which he's authorized (see 3). Once the user selects an output queue, the screen displays a list of spooled files and the option buttons that represent the features available to process the downloaded report (see 4). Excel and Word options will be visible only if the utility finds them in their standard directories.

The user can specify an output queue or click on Browse Outqs to present a list of the output queues to which he's authorized (see Figure 3). Once the user selects an output queue, the screen displays a list of spooled files and the option buttons that represent the features available to process the downloaded report (see Figure 4). Excel and Word options will be visible only if the utility finds them in their standard directories.

If the user is unsure which spooled file he wants to process, he can preview it as shown in 5. Scrolling through the preview display will reveal the first 150 lines (about three pages) of the file. Report widths of 132 or 198 columns display in correspondingly smaller fonts than 80 column reports. (Any overprinting causes additional lines to be displayed as illustrated by the report title.

If the user is unsure which spooled file he wants to process, he can preview it as shown in Figure 5. Scrolling through the preview display will reveal the first 150 lines (about three pages) of the file. Report widths of 132 or 198 columns display in correspondingly smaller fonts than 80 column reports. (Any overprinting causes additional lines to be displayed as illustrated by the report title.

When the user chooses to download a report to Word or Excel and run a macro, a dialog box comes up (see 6). Selecting the Run macro box prompts the user for the macro name. Word macros are kept in a template (.DOT files), and Excel macros are kept in a macro sheet (.XLM files). The macro must be prerecorded and stored before it can be referenced.

When the user chooses to download a report to Word or Excel and run a macro, a dialog box comes up (see Figure 6). Selecting the Run macro box prompts the user for the macro name. Word macros are kept in a template (.DOT files), and Excel macros are kept in a macro sheet (.XLM files). The macro must be prerecorded and stored before it can be referenced.

When the user chooses to download a report to a PC text file; he is presented with the dialog box shown in 7. This box offers the option to Replace file or to Add to file. With this feature the user can accumulate several AS/400 reports into one file.

When the user chooses to download a report to a PC text file; he is presented with the dialog box shown in Figure 7. This box offers the option to Replace file or to Add to file. With this feature the user can accumulate several AS/400 reports into one file.

Modifications to the Utility

Consider the utility a starting point. It can be modified to do other things, such as interface to other DDE-capable software packages like WordPerfect or Lotus. Programmers can even extract routines from the utility and use them to start new applications. For instance, instead of downloading spooled files, the utility can be modified to download database files. (Indeed, spooled files are copied to database files before they are transmitted.)

Programmers can create bitmap pictures in a utility like Paintbrush and insert them into the utility's forms. For example, the utility's opening form has been enhanced with a personalized logo and 3-D controls (see 8).

Programmers can create bitmap pictures in a utility like Paintbrush and insert them into the utility's forms. For example, the utility's opening form has been enhanced with a personalized logo and 3-D controls (see Figure 8).

How It Works

The AS/400 Report Download Utility is an inclusive and full-function client/server application that ties together several elements of today's application solutions-the AS/400, Windows, PC Support, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Word. The help system explains all features of the utility and is accessed from most menus (see 9).

The AS/400 Report Download Utility is an inclusive and full-function client/server application that ties together several elements of today's application solutions-the AS/400, Windows, PC Support, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Word. The help system explains all features of the utility and is accessed from most menus (see Figure 9).

The utility is written in VB, and it uses a feature of PC office systems called Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) to link objects within a VB program to other programs running in Windows. DDE also sends commands to other Windows applications, making functions within Word or Excel available to the VB program.

This VB client/server utility is central to the process of putting all the players together in a cooperative processing solution. This is a role that VB is good at.

Chris Peters is a senior programmer/ analyst for Murphey Favre Securities Service. He can be reached on Compuserve at 76714,1253 or on MC-BBS.

REFERENCES Peters, Chris. AS/400 Client/Server Programming with Visual Basic. Carlsbad, Calif.: Midrange Computing, 1995. Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft Visual Basic Programmer's Guide. Redmond, Wash.: Microsoft Press, 1993. PC Support/400 API Reference (SC41-8254, CD-ROM QBKA6102).

Installing the AS/400 Report Download Utility

Since there are two parts to this client/server utility-the AS/400 part and the PC part-the installation process likewise has two parts. Installation on the AS/400 need be done only once per AS/400; the programs are then available to all users. Installation on the PC must be done on each PC that uses the utility.

You can download a free copy of this utility from MC-BBS. Use a modem to call 619-931-9909. From the Files area, select "MC Magazine's Published Files for AS/400," then download the self-extracting file named RDUPKG.EXE. To extract the utility, copy it into an empty subdirectory on your hard drive and execute RDUPKG from a DOS prompt.

Installing the Utility-AS/400 Code

1. With PC Support running and shared folders active, go to the Windows Program Manager or File Manager. Open the File menu and select Run.

2. Specify the directory containing the expanded files transmitted from MC-BBS.

3. Run the SETUP400 program. (This setup program is a modified version of the VB source code generated by the Application Setup Wizard.) From within the SETUP400 program, the Shell command is used to run a batch file. Since the SETUP400 program can't detect if the batch file runs successfully, the batch file pauses at the end for you to examine the screen messages for errors.

During the installation process, the utility creates an AS/400 library named VBSPL where the AS/400 portion of the utility resides. Because of required hard-coded references to a specific library, you cannot run the utility from any other library without modifying the source code. The utility also creates source files to receive the uploaded AS/400 source code members and uploads them with the PC Support file transfer program RFROMPCB.EXE. Finally, the utility compiles the AS/400 physical files, the ICF file, and the RPG and CL programs.

Source Code for the AS/400

When you download this utility from the MC-BBS, all the source code is included for the elements of the utility. (There's a simple help system, too.) The large amount of code in this utility prohibits us from publishing it in this article.

Installing the AS/400 portion of the Download Utility creates the source files QDDSSRC, QRPGSRC, and QCLSRC in library VBSPL. These source files contain all the AS/400 code for the utility. To help sort things out, a brief description of the AS/400 objects follows. All objects are created in library VBSPL.

ICF File

VBSPLF1 is a standard ICF file for APPC connections. It contains fields for transporting data and messages between the PC and the AS/400.

CL Programs

VBSPLF1C sets the AS/400 environment for the utility (establishes the library list and creates temporary files) and calls VBSPLF1R, the main AS/400 partner program.

CHEKOUTQ checks to see if a requested AS/400 output queue exists.

GETOUTQS loads physical file PQLIST with a list of AS/400 output queues.

GETSPLFS loads physical file PTLIST with a list of AS/400 spooled files for a specific output queue.

GETSPLE loads physical file PDDATA with records from a specific AS/400 spooled file.

RPG

VBSPLF1R program is a standard APPC application communicating through an ICF file. It is the main AS/400 partner program. It handles the APPC conversation with the PC and calls the other AS/400 programs.

Installing the Utility-PC Code 1. The installation program for the PC portion of the code is also a Windows Setup program. Again, open the file menu and select Run. This time, select the program SETUP.EXE.

2. Designate the directory to receive the application; the rest is automatic. This process installs the utility and the Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) VBRUN300 and DDEML, and creates two program icons in a new program group.

Running the Utility

To run the utility, PC Support must be running under Windows. The support for the APPC conversation in this client/server relationship comes with OS/400 and PC Support.

This utility requires two Windows fonts-Courier New and Terminal. These nonproportional fonts align properly in subfile-like lists.

Depending on how your AS/400's security is set up, you may have to grant users authority to access the database files in VBSPL that come with the utility- PDDATA, PQLIST, and PTLIST.

Source Code for the PC

A discussion of the VB source code files included in the MC-BBS transmission is beyond the scope of this article. However, all of the utility's VB and client/server code and techniques are explained in AS/400 Client/Server Programming with Visual Basic published by Midrange Computing.


The AS/400 Report Download Utility

Figure 1 Report Download Icon

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The AS/400 Report Download Utility

Figure 2 Report Download Screen

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The AS/400 Report Download Utility

Figure 3 Browsing Output Queues

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The AS/400 Report Download Utility

Figure 4 Displaying Spooled Files

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The AS/400 Report Download Utility

Figure 5 Previewing a Spooled File

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The AS/400 Report Download Utility

Figure 6 Loading a Word Macro

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The AS/400 Report Download Utility

Figure 7 Writing to a Text File

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The AS/400 Report Download Utility

Figure 8 Personalized Version

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The AS/400 Report Download Utility

Figure 9 Help Window

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The AS/400 Report Download Utility

Figure 10 RDUPKG.EXE Programs

 All components for this utility are contained in the self-extracting file: RDUPKG.EXE This file can be found in the download area of the MC-BBS. 

Chris Peters has 32 years of experience with IBM midrange and PC platforms. Chris is president of Evergreen Interactive Systems, a software development firm and creators of the iSeries Report Downloader. Chris is the author of i5/OS and Microsoft Office Integration Handbook, AS/400 TCP/IP Handbook, AS/400 Client/Server Programming with Visual Basic, and Peer Networking on the AS/400. He is also a nationally recognized seminar instructor and a lecturer in the Computer Science department at Eastern Washington University. Chris can be reached at Chris@EvergreenInteractive.com.


MC Press books written by Chris Peters available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

i5/OS and Microsoft Office Integration Handbook i5/OS and Microsoft Office Integration Handbook
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    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

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    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 NodeRun.com 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.