The CL Corner: Handling Those Pesky Holidays

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Holidays should be fun! With CL-based variables, at least they're not a headache.


In the last column in this series, we looked at how to calculate a date such that it would be a minimum of 60 days from an arbitrary date and ensure that the calculated date did not fall on a Saturday or Sunday. We accomplished this using the i5/OS APIs CEEDAYS, CEEDYWK, and CEEDATE. We noticed, however, that holidays were not being handled. When avoiding a Saturday or Sunday calculation, we would use the following Monday, which might be a holiday. In today's column, we'll look at one possible solution for bypassing holidays. Note that there are many, many possible ways to handle holidays. This is simply one: one that may be better or worse than other methods, depending on your situation.


As we learned in "So You're Looking for a Date?", Lilian dates are represented by a sequential number where October 15, 1582, is 1; October 16, 1582, is 2; and March 21, 2008, is 155387. This attribute seems ready-made for an array of work vs. non-work days with the Lilian date being an offset into the array, and this is just what we will do. As it is unlikely that we need to support dates far in the past (back to 1582) or far into the future (the year 9999), we will arbitrarily create an array of 1-byte character fields representing the dates January 1, 1940, through December 31, 2199, where a value of 0 indicates a work day and a value of 1 a non-work day. As January 1, 1940, corresponds to Lilian date 130470 and December 31, 2199, corresponds to Lilian date 225433, this means we will create an array of 94964 1-byte elements (225433 - 130470 + 1). And we will not allow the small implementation detail that CL doesn't support arrays, or a variable length greater than 32767 bytes, to deter us!


The following program, CRTCAL, creates a user space (*USRSPC) named CALENDAR in library QUSRSYS. The *USRSPC, when created, is initialized so that every day is a work day. Following that, CRTCAL marks each Saturday and Sunday in the *USRSPC as a non-work day.



Dcl        Var(&UsrSpc_Ptr) Type(*Ptr)                  

Dcl        Var(&WeekEnd)    Type(*Char) Stg(*Based) +   

                              Len(2) BasPtr(&UsrSpc_Ptr)


Dcl        Var(&Size)       Type(*Int) Value(94964)     


Call       Pgm(QUSCRTUS) Parm('CALENDAR  QUSRSYS' ' ' + 

               &Size '0' '*USE' 'Calendar array')       

Call       Pgm(QUSPTRUS) Parm('CALENDAR  QUSRSYS' +     



ChgVar     Var(%Ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr)) +                     

             Value(%Ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr) + 5)               

DoUntil    Cond(%Ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr) > 94964)              

           ChgVar Var(&WeekEnd) Value('11')             

           ChgVar Var(%Ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr)) +       

                  Value(%Ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr) + 7)   




Without going into the details of the Create User Space (QUSCRTUS) API (they can be found here), CRTCAL is creating the *USRSPC QUSRSYS/CALENDAR that is a minimum of 94964 bytes in size. Each byte is initialized to 0 and the user space has PUBLIC(*USE) authority. There are several additional parameters not shown. A key one is a parameter to replace the *USRSPC if it currently exists. The default is to not replace an existing *USRSPC, and I'm taking that default just in case you already have a *USRSPC by that name on your system. If you need to run CRTCAL several times when testing, you can either add the Replace parameter to the call to QUSCRTUS or use the DLTUSRSPC command prior to running CRTCAL.


After creating CALENDAR CRTCAL, we set the weekends as non-work days. To do this, we will use pointers and based variables. This is the real reason I chose an array based solution: I wanted to familiarize you with this capability/technique of CL, one that I believe is underutilized. First, CRTCAL gets a pointer to CALENDAR using the Retrieve Pointer to User Space (QUSPTRUS) API. This pointer, &UsrSpc_Ptr, will point to, or address, the first byte of the *USRSPC. As the first byte represents January 1, 1940, and we know from the CEEDYWK API (not shown) that this date is a Monday, CRTCAL adds 5 to the value of &UsrSpc_Ptr so that it now addresses January 6, 1940: a Saturday. CRTCAL then moves the 2-byte value 11 to variable &WeekEnd. This sets both the Saturday and Sunday bytes as being non-working (note that the variable &WeekEnd is defined as being *Based on &UsrSpc_Ptr so &WeekEnd is associated with whatever two bytes &UsrSpc_Ptr is currently addressing, in this case, Saturday, January 6, 1940, and Sunday, January 7, 1940), adds 7 to &UsrSpc_Ptr to address the next Saturday in CALENDAR, and then loops until all weekends in our supported range of dates are updated.


I will point out that there is one "bug" or exposure in CRTCAL, but I left it in to simplify the code. Namely, if December 31, 2199, was a Saturday, then updating Sunday, January 1, 2200 (which CRTCAL would do with the ChgVar &Weekend command as it's currently coded) could cause a MCH0601 error: "Space offset is outside of current limit." In the case of CRTCAL, this won't happen for two reasons. First, December 31, 2199, is not a Saturday. Second, *USRSPCs are created with sizes that are multiples of 4096. So even though CRTCAL asked for only 94964 bytes, additional bytes were allocated, so a byte is actually there for January 1, 2200. Building in a check for this situation, while easily done, would add code without any educational benefit, so I left it out.


Having created CALENDAR, now let's look at updating holidays. The following program, SETDAY, actually allows you to mark any given day as either a work day or a non-work day.



Pgm        Parm(&YYMDDay &Status)                       

Dcl        Var(&YYMDDay)    Type(*Char) Len(8)          

Dcl        Var(&Status)     Type(*Char) Len(5)          

Dcl        Var(&LilDay)     Type(*Int)                  


Dcl        Var(&UsrSpc_Ptr) Type(*Ptr)                  

Dcl        Var(&Day)        Type(*Char) Stg(*Based) +   

                              Len(1) BasPtr(&UsrSpc_Ptr)


Dcl        Var(&Base)       Type(*Int)  Value(130470)   

Dcl        Var(&Top)        Type(*Int)  Value(225433)   


CallPrc    Prc(CEEDAYS) Parm((&YYMDDay) ('YYYYMMDD') +  

             (&LilDay) (*Omit))                         


If         Cond((&LilDay *GE &Base) *And +              

                (&LilDay *LE &Top)) Then(Do)            

           Call Pgm(QUSPTRUS) Parm('CALENDAR  QUSRSYS' +


           ChgVar Var(%Ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr)) +              

               Value(%Ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr) + &LilDay - &Base)


             When Cond(&Status = '*WORK') +             

                  Then(ChgVar Var(&Day) Value('0'))     

             When Cond(&Status = '*OFF') +              

                  Then(ChgVar Var(&Day) Value('1'))     

             OtherWise Cmd(SndPgmMsg +                  

                  Msg('Invalid status for day. +       

                  Valid values are *WORK and *OFF') +   




Else       Cmd(SndPgmMsg +                              

                 Msg('Invalid date specified. +         

                 The valid range is Jan 1 1940 to Dec 31 +

                 2199.') ToPgmQ(*Ext))                   



SETDAY requires two parameters. The first, &YYMDDay, is the day we want to set and is formatted as YYMD. The second, &Status, is the status we want to assign to the day. The two supported values for &Status are *WORK and *OFF. Even with parameter validation (range checking and a valid value for &Status), the program is quite straightforward. SETDAY gets the Lilian date for the day passed in, retrieves &UsrSpc_Ptr (which addresses the first byte of the CALENDAR *USRSPC), calculates the byte offset into CALENDAR for the specified date by adding the Lilian date to &UsrSpc_Ptr and then subtracting the &Base (or starting) Lilian date value for January 1, 1940, and then sets the corresponding byte to the appropriate value. That's it!


Our last program, GREGTOLIL3, is shown below.



Pgm        Parm(&YYMDGreg)                               

Dcl        Var(&YYMDGreg)   Type(*Char) Len(8)           

Dcl        Var(&CurLilDate) Type(*Int)                    

Dcl        Var(&NewLilDate) Type(*Int)                   

Dcl        Var(&NewGregDt)  Type(*Char) Len(32)          


Dcl        Var(&UsrSpc_Ptr) Type(*Ptr)                   

Dcl        Var(&Day)        Type(*Char) Stg(*Based) +    

                              Len(1) BasPtr(&UsrSpc_Ptr) 


Dcl        Var(&Base)       Type(*Int)  Value(130470)    

Dcl        Var(&Top)        Type(*Int)  Value(225433)    

Dcl        Var(&DayOff)     Type(*Char) Len(1) Value('1')


CallPrc    Prc(CEEDAYS) Parm((&YYMDGreg) ('YYYYMMDD') +  

             (&CurLilDate) (*Omit))                       


If         Cond((&CurLilDate *GE (&Base - 60)) *And +    

                (&CurLilDAte *LE (&Top - 60))) Then(Do)  

           ChgVar Var(&NewLilDate) Value(&CurLildate + 60)

           Call Pgm(QUSPTRUS) Parm('CALENDAR  QUSRSYS' + 



           ChgVar Var(%Ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr)) +               

             Value(%Ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr) + &NewLilDate - +   


           DoWhile Cond(&Day = &DayOff)                  

             ChgVar Var(%Ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr)) +             

                      Value(%Ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr) + 1)       


           ChgVar Var(&NewLilDate) +                     

                    Value(%ofs(&UsrSpc_Ptr) + &Base)     

           CallPrc Prc(CEEDATE) Parm((&NewLilDate) +     

                   ('MM/DD/YYYY') (&NewGregDt) (*Omit)) 


           SndPgmMsg Msg(&NewGregDt) ToPgmQ(*Ext)       


Else       Cmd(SndPgmMsg +                               

               Msg('Date is outside the valid range.')) 



GREGTOLIL3 has one required parameter, &YYMDGreg, which is the starting date in YYMD format. After appropriate range checking, GREGTOLIL3 adds 60 days to the input value, checks to see if the calculated date is a non-work day (&Day = '1'), and if so, adds one day to the calculated date and tests again. When the calculated day is a work day (&Day = '0'), GREGTOLIL formats the date, displays it, and ends.


If we now CALL GREGTOLIL3 with the parameter '20080325', we will see the message 05/26/2008. As we know from our earlier discussion, this date is actually a holiday in the United States. Let's now CALL SETDAY with parameters ('20080526' *OFF). After this, CALL GREGTOLIL3 '20080325' results in the message 05/27/2008. If it was later decided that we would be working on Saturday, May 24, 2008, we could CALL SETDAY ('20080524' *WORK), and then CALL GREGTOLIL3 '20080325' would result in the message 05/24/2008. If, rather than finding the next work day, we wanted to calculate the previous work day, we simply subtract 1 instead of adding 1 when in the DoWhile loop. Pretty straightforward.


There are a few other benefits as well: As the CALENDAR entries are stored in a *USRSPC and accessed by a basing pointer, there is no duplication of the CALENDAR in each job accessing the CALENDAR entries. This also means that the instant SETDAY changes the &Status of a day, that change is immediately seen by all users of CALENDAR. There is no "loading" of the data as there would be with a database file containing the date information. And, as there is no database involved, we also don't have to worry about GREGTOLIL3 running into an end-of-file condition and being unable to read the entries anymore (though this CL consideration is lifted in V6R1).


But even more importantly, you've now seen how easy it can be to simulate an array and easily access entries within that array. Arrays, as we have seen here, can be much larger than what can be declared within CL for a *Char variable. Using *Based variables, as we did with &Day, we only need to define and use the (in this case) one byte that's currently important to us of the 94964-byte array. A very powerful tool has been added to your CL toolbox with the support for pointers and based variables in V5R4. I hope you can take advantage of this tool in your future application development.


More CL Questions?             

Wondering how to accomplish a function in CL? Send your CL-related questions to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I'll see what I can do about answering your burning questions in future columns.

Bruce Vining

Bruce Vining is president and co-founder of Bruce Vining Services, LLC, a firm providing contract programming and consulting services to the System i community. He began his career in 1979 as an IBM Systems Engineer in St. Louis, Missouri, and then transferred to Rochester, Minnesota, in 1985, where he continues to reside. From 1992 until leaving IBM in 2007, Bruce was a member of the System Design Control Group responsible for OS/400 and i5/OS areas such as System APIs, Globalization, and Software Serviceability. He is also the designer of Control Language for Files (CLF).A frequent speaker and writer, Bruce can be reached at 

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    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.



  • 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.

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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.