The CL Corner: New Support for CL Commands Lets You Know When a Command Ends

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Need to know when "something" has finished? The Command Analyzer Retrieve exit point capability tells you what you need to know.


This month, I had planned on looking at the DDS details of implementing the message subfile (record formats MSGSFL and MSGSFLCTL) used in last month's article, "Letting the User Know What's Right and Wrong." I am, however, going to defer that discussion due to an IBM CL command enhancement that became available just last week.


This new support allows you to designate a program that is to be called when the command processing program (CPP) of a CL command completes. Over the years, I have seen quite a few questions related to "how can I know when someone has exited from XXX"—where XXX might be a command such as Change Data (CHGDTA), Start SQL Interactive Session (STRSQL), Create Physical File (CRTPF), or a command provided by your company and/or a third party. This new support—which is available as PTFs for V5R4 (SI45987), 6.1 (SI45986), and 7.1 (SI45985)—may very well be just what the doctor ordered for many of your applications needs in this area.


As some background, starting with V4R5, IBM has supported exit point capabilities allowing you to have exit programs called before the system transfers control to the CPP of a given command. Using the Retrieve exit point, documented here, your exit program could access the command string originally submitted to the command analyzer. Using the Change exit point, documented here and utilized in the 2009 CL Corner article "Overriding Commands and Their Parameter Values," your exit program could not only access the original command string, but also change the command prior to the CPP running. With the PTFs mentioned previously, you now also have the ability for the Retrieve exit point to call an exit program after the CPP of a given command has returned control to the IBM i.


This month, we'll take an introductory look at this new after support. Next month, we'll take a more in-depth look at this new feature and see how, with the use of the existing Change exit point, we can also answer the often asked question "How can I know when a submitted job has finished?"


The Command Analyzer Retrieve exit point defines one parameter, which is passed to the exit program. This parameter is defined as a variable-length structure with the following format.


Format RTVC0100









Exit point name




Exit point format name




Command name




Library name








Before or after indicator








Offset to original command string




Length of original command string




Offset to replacement command string




Length of replacement command string




Offset to proxy chain




Number of entries in proxy chain




Original command string




Replacement command string

Proxy commands and libraries. These fields repeat in the order listed.


Proxy command name


Proxy command library name


The change to this structure for the new capability of being called after the CPP has returned control is implemented at decimal offset 50. Prior to the PTFs mentioned above, there was a 4-byte reserved field starting at decimal offset 48. After PTFs are installed, this 4-byte reserved field is now defined as a 2-byte reserved field, a 1-byte field labeled "Before or after indicator," and another 1-byte reserved field. If the new "Before or after indicator" field at decimal offset 50 is set to zero (0), when the exit program is called, the call is before the CPP has run. If this new field is set to 1, the exit program call is after the CPP has run. Using this new field, you can, if you want, use previously existing command analyzer exit programs for both before and after processing.


To register an "after" exit program for a command such as CHGDTA, you can use the following command.





   PGMDTA(*JOB 30 'CHGDTA    QSYS      *AFTER    ')


The Add Exit Program (ADDEXITPGM) command shown above is telling your i to call the program CHGDTAEXIT in library VINING after the command CHGDTA is QSYS has been run. The program data (PGMDTA) keyword value of 30 indicates that there are 30 bytes of information being supplied: a 10-byte command name (CHGDTA), a 10-byte library name (QSYS), and a 10-byte timing value (*AFTER). For compatibility prior to the PTFs, any value other than *AFTER will cause the CHGDTAEXIT program to be called before control is transferred to the CPP of the CHGDTA command.


The following source can be used to create the user program Change Data Exit (CHGDTAEXIT), using CRTBNDCL PGM(CHGDTAEXIT), assuming that you have the source stored in member CHGDTAEXIT of source file QCLSRC.


Pgm        Parm(&Cmd_Info)                                


Dcl        Var(&Cmd_Info) Type(*Char) Len(32766)         

 Dcl        Var(&EP_Name)    Type(*Char)  Stg(*Defined) +

              Len(20)        DefVar(&Cmd_Info 1)         

 Dcl        Var(&EP_Format)  Type(*Char)  Stg(*Defined) +

              Len(8)         DefVar(&Cmd_Info 21)        

 Dcl        Var(&Cmd_Name)   Type(*Char)  Stg(*Defined) +

              Len(10)        DefVar(&Cmd_Info 29)        

 Dcl        Var(&Cmd_Lib)    Type(*Char)  Stg(*Defined) +

              Len(10)        DefVar(&Cmd_Info 39)        

 Dcl        Var(&Reserved1)  Type(*Char)  Stg(*Defined) +

              Len(2)         DefVar(&Cmd_Info 49)        

 Dcl        Var(&Before_Aft) Type(*Char)  Stg(*Defined) +

              Len(1)         DefVar(&Cmd_Info 51)        

 Dcl        Var(&Reserved2)  Type(*Char)  Stg(*Defined) +

              Len(1)         DefVar(&Cmd_Info 52)       

 Dcl        Var(&Off_InlCmd) Type(*Int)   Stg(*Defined) +

                             DefVar(&Cmd_Info 53)       

 Dcl        Var(&Len_InlCmd) Type(*Int)   Stg(*Defined) +

                             DefVar(&Cmd_Info 57)       

 Dcl        Var(&Off_RplCmd) Type(*Int)   Stg(*Defined) +

                             DefVar(&Cmd_Info 61)       

 Dcl        Var(&Len_RplCmd) Type(*Int)   Stg(*Defined) +

                             DefVar(&Cmd_Info 65)       

 Dcl        Var(&Off_Prx)    Type(*Int)   Stg(*Defined) +

                             DefVar(&Cmd_Info 69)        

 Dcl        Var(&Nbr_Prx)    Type(*Int)   Stg(*Defined) +

                             DefVar(&Cmd_Info 73)       


Dcl        Var(&Offset)   Type(*Int)                    

Dcl        Var(&Length)   Type(*Int)                    

Dcl        Var(&Cmd)      Type(*Char) Len(100)          


If Cond(&Before_Aft *EQ '1') Then(Do)                  

   If Cond(&Off_RplCmd = 0) Then(Do)                    

      ChgVar Var(&Offset) Value(&Off_InlCmd + 1)       

      ChgVar Var(&Length) Value(&Len_InlCmd)           


   Else Cmd(Do)                                        

      ChgVar Var(&Offset) Value(&Off_RplCmd + 1)       

      ChgVar Var(&Length) Value(&Len_RplCmd)           




If Cond(&Length *GT 100) Then( +                       

   ChgVar Var(&Length) Value(100))                     


ChgVar Var(&Cmd) +                                     

       Value(%sst(&Cmd_Info &Offset &Length))          


SndPgmMsg  Msg(&Cmd *TCat +           

               ' has completed') +    





The provided sample program, when called by the Command Analyzer Retrieve exit point, is very general-purpose: it simply sends a message to the external message queue of the job. The message contains the command string (or at least the first 100 bytes of the command string) used when running the command—in this case, the CHGDTA command.


The majority of the program consists of Declare CL Variable (DCL) commands (from the definition of &Cmd_Info through &Nbr_Prx) that define the fields associated with format RTVC0100 of the exit point. These declares will be constant across any Command Analyzer Retrieve exit program you might write and are an excellent candidate for being put in a separate source member, which could then be included in your exit program using the Include CL Source (INCLUDE) CL command (assuming your system is at 6.1 or later).


Note the &Before_Aft conditioned Do Group (DO) shown below:


If Cond(&Before_Aft *EQ '1') Then(Do)


This is perhaps more detailed than necessary at this time, but it determines for display purposes the command and command parameters that caused the CHGDTAEXIT program to be called. As provided, the DO group checks to see if the Command Analyzer Change exit point was used to override any user-specified parameters for the command being processed. If so, the changed command and parameters are displayed rather than the initial command and associated parameters. Next month, we will look in more detail at just what is being done here—and why.


The remainder of the program simply extracts the command string and sends a message showing the command and command parameters used. If, for instance, the command CHGDTA DFUPGM(CHGFILEX)was run by the user, then after the user exits from the DFU Change Data session, the message "CHGDTA DFUPGM(CHGFILEX) has completed" will be found in the external message queue of the job. In your own program, you would most likely replace the Send Program Message (SNDPGMMSG) command with whatever logic you want run after the CHGDTA CPP has returned control to the system.

Buyer Beware

While the PTFs provide you with a very nice way to determine when a command has completed, there are a few caveats that should be pointed out.


One warning is that the exit program is not directly informed by the exit point of whether or not the command completed successfully. For example, let's say the user entered the command CHGDTA DFUPGM(CHGFILEY)and there is no DFU program named CHGFILEY. In this case, the exit program CHGDTAEXIT will still be called even though the user did not actually have the opportunity to change any data with the CHGDTA command. This is because the CHGDTA CPP will send the informational message DFU0635 (DFU could not find program CHGFILEY in library *LIBL)and then return immediately, causing the exit program CHGDTAEXIT to be called. In situations such as this, it may be appropriate for the exit program to determine whether any messages were sent by the command's CPP, a capability that can certainly be implemented using various CL message-related commands. It would surely be a nice enhancement if, in the future, the exit point could also utilize one of the reserved fields to indicate whether or not the CPP sent an escape (or similar) message, as escape messages are often used as an indication that a command has failed. Such a capability would not help in the case of CHGDTA because DFU0635 is not an escape message (which strikes me as a bit strange, but that's another story), but it would be of general assistance for many commands on the system.


A second warning is that just because the CPP of a given command returns control to the system, not all of the command processing has necessarily completed. There are, for instance, several start commands, especially in the area of communications, where the start command initiates work that is then performed asynchronously to the job running the start command. That is, just because a command such as Start TCP/IP (STRTCP) returns, it is not safe to assume that all TCP/IP interfaces are now active—only that the starting of the interfaces is in progress.


In a similar fashion, you should not be surprised to find that some commands return control to the system after initiating processing that will actually complete at a later point in the job. If you were, for example, to register the previously created CHGDTAEXIT exit program to the Sign Off (SIGNOFF) command, you might be initially surprised to see that the message "SIGNOFF has completed" is sent to the job's job log from the exit program. Without going into the details of why this is, you will find that the SIGNOFF CPP does indeed return control to the operating system—allowing in this case for your exit program to be called as part of SIGNOFF processing—prior to the job actually ending. 

Thanks to Guy Vig and Jennifer Liu

This new Command Analyzer Retrieve exit point capability will be a definite boon to many application developers needing to know when "something" has finished. Next month, we'll see how this exit point enhancement can be used to determine when a submitted job has completed processing, without having to actually change the application running in the batch job. A tip of the hat to the CL team of Guy Vig and Jennifer Liu is certainly in order for providing this support not just to 7.1, but also to the previous releases of 5.4 and 6.1.

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 try to answer 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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    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.