Introducing Eclipse Monkey

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Remember using REXX for SEU exit points? If so, Eclipse Monkey is your new best friend.


I so had to avoid saying something like "Bananas for Eclipse" in the title, but I restrained myself.

Time to Get Back to the Technical Details

With all that has transpired in the community over the past year, we've spent a whole lot of time recently concentrating on some non-technical or at best tangentially technical topics. The whole V6R1 AD repackaging scheme, while crucial to the financial planning of your company, has less to do with development than with paying for it. And while I've gotten some great comments on those articles, I've also been hearing a pretty regular refrain that I ought to be covering more technical topics.


Well, here we go. This is the first of what I hope to be a long semi-regular series of articles on using WDSC (and RDi in the very near future) for programming. I'll hearken back to some of my more technical treatises and focus on ways to use the tool to make your life easier. Other technical series will include programming topics (I've been doing quite a few of those on EGL lately), and then I might even be able to slip in the occasional piece about open-source topics.


Extending WDSC

And right off the bat I'm going to tell you how to extend your programming environment. WDSC already has some nice ways to extend the editor. One is its powerful template capability, which allows you to define one or more lines of code with optional substitution variables and then include that whole chunk of code with just a couple of keystrokes. You'll be prompted for any substitutions, and then the code will be added. It's simple and good for what it does, which is to quickly write new code. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, you can write your own Java commands that access the editor and update your source code. With this, you can do anything from changing the case of existing code to generating entire new source files.

What's missing, though, is the ability to easily toss together a script that will modify a line or two of code (especially since templates are limited to specific source types and really only add new code). Back in the ancient era of green-screens, we had something called an SEU exit program, which could be invoked by typing a specific two-character command in the SEU line number area. I won't go into a ton of detail on that particular capability, but it did allow clever programmers to extend the SEU editor to perform custom functions. And if you used REXX, you didn't even have to compile the code; it was like running a script inside SEU. There's really no native capability like that in WDSC today. But that's one of the beautiful things about an extensible framework.

Today's Tool: Eclipse Monkey

Today there's a new kid in town, and that kid is Eclipse Monkey. The page linked to is actually the page for something called Project Dash, but don't let that fool you. One of the things you can download is Eclipse Monkey, a very cool tool. To be honest, if you dive down into the guts of the tool, it's so cool that it's scary, but today's article will only touch on the higher-level capabilities. As I get more involved with the inner workings, I'll let you know.


Getting the Tool

Getting the tool is fairly easy, but you have to be careful because you don't use the standard WDSC update technique. Since this is a third-party plug-in, you will use the Software Updates option from the Help menu, as shown in Figure 1.



Figure 1: Select Help > Software Updates > Find and Install... from the main menu. (Click images to enlarge.)


If you've been reading and following along with my tech tips on plug-ins, you'll be familiar with the Find and Install dialog. Here are the specifics:



Figure 2: Add the Project Dash update site.


First, you'll have to add the Project Dash update site. Make sure to use the URL above.



Figure 3: Select the Project Dash update site and hit Finish.


Once you've added Project Dash, select it and hit Finish.



Figure 4: Make sure that both Eclipse Monkey and Mozilla Rhino are selected, and continue on.


Once you've done that, make sure both the Monkey and Rhino projects are selected as shown in Figure 4, and then continue with the standard installation process. The installer will download all of the features with dialogs like the one in Figure 5, and then finally you may be asked to restart the workbench.



Figure 5: The download dialog shows you the progress of the Eclipse Monkey download.

Using the Monkey

Now that you've got the Monkey installed, it's time to use it. The first thing you probably want to do is install the example scripts. It's a simple operation. Once your workbench is restarted, you'll see a new menu option, Scripts. Under that menu, select the Examples option as shown in Figure 6.



Figure 6: Select menu option Scripts > Examples.


This will build a new project in your workspace that you can then browse using the Project Manager. The project will look something like this:



Figure 7: The Eclipse Monkey Examples project contains a number of example Monkey scripts.


You'll see a new project called Eclipse Monkey Examples, with a folder called Scripts in it. You won't see the junk folder; I added that for testing, and you can ignore it. Neither will you see the RPG__Fix_D_Specs.js file. That's mine, but that one we will talk about shortly.


Anyway, this folder is built with several interesting scripts. Not only that, but once you've added these scripts, they automatically register themselves to the Scripts menu so that you can invoke them. That's part of the language, and it's a rather elegant answer to a tough problem (although I still need to see the code to figure out exactly how elegant it really is).



Figure 8: The Scripts menu now has a number of script categories added.


Figure 8 shows an example. Now that you've added the examples, that menu option is gone, and instead, a number of categories have been added. You'll see a Hello category with two options, Bjorn and Ward. Note that you won't see the RPG category; that's one I added in my workspace, and we'll look at it later.



Figure 9: This is the source for the Hello Bjorn option and the dialog it displays.


Figure 9 shows the source for the simple Hello Bjorn script. One of the more important things is the comment block at the top of the source file, particularly the line that reads Menu: Hello > Bjorn. This is the line that is scanned by the system and used to create the menu option we see in Figure 8. I'm not quite sure of the mechanism, but whenever you add a new JavaScript to the Monkey project, that script is scanned for the special Menu: comment, and if it exists, the script is added to the Scripts menu. It's all automatic and pretty slick.


You can also define a shortcut key, although that particular feature is rather limited because the Eclipse editor grabs a whole lot of the available keystrokes. You're left with the somewhat awkward Alt-Shift combinations, but if you can work within that limitation, they work just fine.


Extending the Monkey

About this time, you're probably wondering why exactly you want to mess with this. OK, great, you've created a way to pop up messages from a menu, but seriously that's not going to make your job any easier. Well, you can look through several of the other examples to see that there's a lot more to it than that. First off, because a standard way to invoke JavaScript is provided, you can easily write arbitrary tools without having to learn a ton of Java or having to actually package jar files to extend the workbench. This is as close to BASIC for Java as you can get: Just change the source code, save it, and execute it.


And just because it's interpreted doesn't mean that it's a kiddie tool. JavaScript is actually very powerful; in some ways it is more powerful than Java and certainly more flexible. For example, even the simple Hello Bjorn example shows how you can use the JavaScript Packages object to access any public class in Java, including the powerful JFaces user interface classes. And note that I don't have to worry about telling the class that text is an object of type String. JavaScript is a loosely typed language; that stuff is just details.


At the same time, the Eclipse Monkey package has a nice built-in set of predefined JavaScript methods to let you access the Eclipse editor class, which means you don't have to mess around with it. For example, Eclipse Monkey surfaces an Editor class that allows you to look at the current editor (and I think you can even get a list of all the editors currently open). It includes a number of classes and methods designed to allow you to directly manipulate the source of an editor, which means you can actually change the source code.


This is pay dirt!


Our First Real Example: Fixing D-Specs


So let's use this new tool, shall we?



Figure 10: This shows the source for the Fix D-Specs script and the RPG code I'll use it on.


Figure 10 is rather large, but I wanted to show you something that really epitomizes the integrated nature of Eclipse Monkey: You edit the Eclipse Monkey scripts inside a regular Eclipse editor, which means that (provided you have enough real estate) you can easily have the Eclipse Monkey script code side by side with the source code you will test it on. Make a change to the script, save it, click on the program source, run your script. That's about as immediate a development cycle as you're going to find.



Figure 11: Mark one or more lines of text and then select Scripts > RPG > Fix D Specs.


Figure 11 shows the mechanics of the operation. You simply mark one or more lines of text (or even just put your cursor on a line if that's the only line you want to process) and then select the desired Script from the Scripts menu. In our case, you want to select the Fix D Specs script from the RPG category.



Figure 12: Here is the result: Type B variables are changed to type I.


Figure 12 shows the result of the script. Each line in the range is checked, and if it's a D-spec defining a type B variable, that variable is changed to a type I. Now this is a very superficial example, since it will work only when you specify both the from and to lengths, but it serves to demonstrate the capabilities of the tool.

How Does It Do That?

It's actually quite cool. I'll walk you through the code, albeit at a slightly elevated level.



 * Menu: RPG > Fix D Specs

 * Kudos: Joe Pluta

 * License: EPL 1.0

 * DOM:



This is the standard comment block required for proper processing of a Script Monkey script. The menu entry is the first line. It says that the name of this option is Fix D Specs and that it belongs to menu category RPG. That menu category will be created under the top-level Scripts menu if it doesn't already exist.


function main() {


This is the standard main function, which identifies the body of code to execute when this option is selected.


var editor = editors.activeEditor;


Here you see the first of the predefined Script Monkey JavaScript objects. Script Monkey uses this to encapsulate a bunch of Eclipse code. I'm just learning how the Java-to-JavaScript interface works; all I need to know for now is that this line of code returns a reference to the active editor screen.


// get range of lines in the selection (or at the cursor position)

var range = editor.selectionRange;

var startLine = editor.getLineAtOffset(range.startingOffset);

var endLine = editor.getLineAtOffset(range.endingOffset);


Similarly, these lines of code are used to interface with existing workbench code. The first line invokes a Java method that extracts some information from the editor and then aggregates it into a JavaScript object, which is then stored in range. The next two lines extract the aggregated information (basically the start and end lines of the selected text). This completes the interface between the Java code of the Eclipse workbench and the temporary variables in my JavaScript code.




This indicates that I will be executing multiple changes, although I'm not entirely certain why I need to do this.


for (var i = startLine; i <= endLine; i++) {


I'll roll through each line of code.


var offset = editor.getOffsetAtLine(i);

var offset2 = editor.getOffsetAtLine(i + 1);

var length = (offset2 - offset) - 1;

var line = editor.source.substring(offset, offset2);


Remember that the editor really treats the entire source as one long stream of text. In order to deal with it line by line as we're used to in the SEU world, we need to get the beginning and end of each line and extract the line. The getOffsetAtLine method returns the offset of the first character of a line. I get the offset of the start of the current line and the start of the next line and use those in conjunction with the substring function to extract the line. The length calculation is just there for debugging purposes and isn't used anymore.


if ( (line.substring(17,19) == "D ") &&

         (line.substring(51,52) == "B")) {

        editor.applyEdit(offset + 51, 1, "I");



Now the logic. This is actually the easy part! Check position 6 and 7 to see if it's a D specification. Remember that the offset is 0-based, but also that there are 12 characters of information at the beginning of each line: the sequence number and the source change date. So I want my substring for comparison to start at offset 17. Substring is a bit counter-intuitive; to identify the length of the substring, you don't specify the length or even the offset of the last character. You specify the offset of the character after the last character. It actually makes the same sort of sense as the zero-based array concept makes sense; regardless, you have to learn how to do it.


Anyway, I check position 6 and 7 for D and blank, and then I check position 40 for a B. If both those conditions are met, then I change the B to an I. The applyEdit method works using the offset from the very beginning of the entire source, so you need to take that into account. But that's basically it: Replace one character starting where the B is with an I. Done!






And that's it. We run an endCompoundChange to put the changes into the source, and then we're done.


I realize that some of this might seem a little on the crazy side, but if you think about it, much of the code can be encapsulated and reused over and over again. You can easily write your own little JavaScript procedures to hide some of the offset craziness and make it easier to concentrate on the logic rather than the technical details. And once you've done that, I can see writing a whole range of powerful commands. And you only need to learn JavaScript!

Joe Pluta

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been extending the IBM midrange since the days of the IBM System/3. Joe uses WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. He has written several books, including Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i, E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. Joe performs onsite mentoring and speaks at user groups around the country. You can reach him at

MC Press books written by Joe Pluta available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i
Joe Pluta introduces you to EGL Rich UI and IBM’s Rational Developer for the IBM i platform.
List Price $39.95

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Discover incredibly powerful WDSC with this easy-to-understand yet thorough introduction.
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    • 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.