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Using a Trigger File with the Application Update Function

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In the March/April 1998 issue of the Client Access/400 Expert, I discussed the Client Access/400 Directory Update function. I showed how to use this function to keep a copy of an application system that is installed on a personal computer at the same level as a master copy that is installed in the AS/400’s Integrated File System (IFS).

The Directory Update function is similar to the Application Update function found in older clients, such as Client Access/400 for DOS Extended and Client Access/400 for Windows 3.1. The procedures I discussed in the previous issue for Client Access/400 for Windows 95/NT will apply to these older clients as well. The older clients support an additional facility, called a trigger file. In this article, you’ll see how to use a trigger file to dramatically shorten the time required to determine whether an update needs to be performed. Before getting into that, however, I will review how the Application Update function does its job.

As you should recall, the Application Update function compares a specified directory on the AS/400 system (the source directory) with a specified directory on the PC (the target directory).

Two types of updates can be performed: package-driven updates and file-driven updates. If the application is configured to use a package-driven update, the Application Update function looks for package files in both directories, as shown in Figure 1. A package file has a file extension of PKG. If the same package file exists in both directories and the dates and times match, no update needs to be performed. Unless a file-driven update is also specified, the Application Update function will terminate.

If matching package files in the source and target directories have different dates or times, the Update function will open the source package file and process the statements it


contains. The package file must be present in both the source and target directories for an update to be performed. For each file identified by a MBRF statement, the Application Update function looks in the source and target directories for a file with that name. When the file is missing from the target directory, it will be copied from the source directory. If the file exists in the target directory, its date and time will be compared with the same file in the source directory. If the date and time are identical, no action is performed. When the dates or times differ, the source file will be copied to the target directory, replacing the target file. It doesn’t matter whether the PC version of the file is newer or older. The package file may also contain DLTF statements that cause files to be deleted from the target directory.

When an application is configured to use a file-driven update, the Application Update function will look at every file in the specified target directory. If a file with the same name exists on both systems, as shown in Figure 2, the Update function will look at the time and date when each file was last modified. If the dates or times differ, the AS/400 source file is copied to the PC, replacing the target file. It doesn’t matter whether the PC version of the file is newer or older. Files on the PC that do not correspond to files on the AS/400 are left untouched. Similarly, any files in the source directory but not in the target directory will not be copied to the target.

Trigger Files

Suppose you have set up an application so that it is maintained by the Application Update function using a file-driven update. Also suppose that the application is updated once every two or three months. If your site follows IBM’s recommended procedure, every PC has been configured to invoke the Application Update function whenever Client Access is started. Most of the time, nothing will need to be updated. However, because a file-driven update was specified, the Application Update function will need to compare every file in the target directory with its matching file in the source directory in order to determine if any files do need to be updated. As a result, it can take a considerable time before Client Access is ready to continue with normal processing. Most of this processing can be avoided by changing to a package-driven update. This, however, requires that you create a package file.

If you are using one of the older clients, you can obtain the performance benefits of a package-driven update without having to deal with the package file and its control statements by creating a trigger file. The Application Update function uses the date/time stamp of a trigger file in the same way it uses the date/time stamp of a package file.

Before performing a file-driven or package-driven analysis, the Application Update function first looks for a trigger file named QPTFIDX (see Figure 3). If the trigger file is found in both directories and the files have the same date and time, no further comparison is performed. The Application Update function will exit without examining any other files. It is assumed that all files in the target directory are up to date. If the files have different dates or times, or if the trigger files are missing, the Application Update function continues by performing the normal file-driven or package-driven analysis. During the update process, the Application Update function will automatically copy the source trigger file to the target directory. This, in effect, resets the trigger, because the dates and times of the files will again match.

You may have concluded that there is no reason to use trigger files with a package- driven update, because the Application Update function will end when it determines that the dates and times of matching package files are equal. However, checking the dates and times of package files can take an unacceptable amount of time if there are more than a few of them and if the PC is connected to the AS/400 via a relatively slow link, such as a


asynchronous modem. When trigger files are being used, the Application Update function will never check more than one file on each system as long as the date/time stamp of those files match. For this reason, Client Access uses both a trigger file and package files for its own updates.

Unfortunately, IBM has removed the support for user-defined trigger files that was present in older Client Access clients—such as Client Access/400 for DOS, Client Access/400 for DOS Extended, and the entire PC Support family—from its newer clients. Older clients support two trigger files: A trigger file named QPTFIDX is used by licensed program products, including Client Access itself, and a trigger file named UPDATE.PCS is used by installation-written applications. Client Access/400 for Windows 3.1 does not recognize UPDATE.PCS. If you want to use a trigger file, you must name it QPTFIDX.

The Client Access/400 Trigger File

Before explaining how to define your own trigger file, I will explain how Client Access maintains its trigger file. Figure 4 shows part of a sample QPTFIDX file from the AS/400’s QPWXCWN directory. This file is copied to the PC’s Client Access directory during installation and, if necessary, during subsequent Application Update runs. The first line of the file identifies the installed version, release, and modification level of Client Access. In this example, it is V3R1M1. Next is the product number (5763XC1) and option number (0001).

The next lines identify PTFs that have been applied to this product and option. Each time a Client Access PTF is applied to the AS/400, a line is added to the source trigger file, causing the date and time of the trigger file to be changed. Therefore, the next time the Application Update function is run, the date/time of the source trigger file will not match that of the trigger file in the target directory. The update process will continue and the appropriate Client Access files will be updated.

Creating a Trigger File

If you want to use a trigger file for your own application, use any text editor to create a file named QPTFIDX. The contents of the file are irrelevant, but I recommend that the first line contain the application’s version, release, and modification levels, as in the following example:

V5R3M2 Our Accounting Application

Remaining lines are optional; you can add any number of lines for any purpose of your choosing.

Once you have created the trigger file, copy it to both the source and target directories. When one or more of the files in the source directory is changed, you must update the trigger file, causing its date and time to be changed. As a result, the Application Update function will detect the change and download the updated files, including the revised trigger file.

Bypassing the Trigger File

You may occasionally want the Application Update function to perform a file- driven or package-driven analysis, even when the trigger files in the source and target directories have matching dates and times. You can accomplish this by selecting the Force update option of the Client Access/400 Update window, illustrated in Figure 5. When you select this option, the Application Update function ignores any trigger files and performs a regular file-driven and/or package-driven analysis, as specified.

Get Trigger-happy

Many Client Access/400 for Windows 3.1 users avoid running the Application Update function at startup because of the time needed to compare application directories. As a result, they may find themselves with an old version of an application. By creating a


simple trigger file, you can greatly reduce the time needed to compare directories when no updates need to be performed. By reducing the startup delay, you eliminate the major excuse your users may have for not keeping their applications up to date.

Figure 1: If the application is configured to use a package-driven update, the Application Update function looks for package files in both directories.

Figure 2: If the application is configured to use a file-driven update, the Application Update function looks at every file in the specified target directory.

Figure 3: Before performing a file-driven or package-driven analysis, the Application Update function first looks for a trigger file named QPTFIDX.

V3R1M1 5763XC1 0001

SF08838 QPWXCWN/PCSETUPW.EXE
SF24060 QPWXCWN/LANNSD.DLL
SF24062 QPWXCWN/VNSWUTIL.386
SF24062 QPWXCWN/VD802.386

Figure 4: A typical trigger file would look something like this one.


Using_a_Trigger_File_with_the_Application_Update_Function04-00.jpg 400x145

Using_a_Trigger_File_with_the_Application_Update_Function04-01.jpg 400x144

Using_a_Trigger_File_with_the_Application_Update_Function04-02.jpg 400x145

Using_a_Trigger_File_with_the_Application_Update_Function05-00.jpg 400x181

Figure 5: You can force Client Access to do a file- or package-driven update by selecting the Force update option of the Client Access/400 Update window.


William Hansen

Throughout his career, William A. Hansen, Ph.D., has rarely been able to do only one thing at a time. While a math graduate student at Northwestern, he also worked full time as a computer operator, making him the only algebraic topologist capable of running a System/360. His 1974 Ph.D. thesis, "A Computer Calculation of the Homology of the Lambda Algebra," applied Fortran to an algebra problem. This mixed background led to a college appointment teaching both mathematics and computer science.

 

Dr. Hansen was an early advocate of multimedia training, spending his free time developing MVS operator courses that used text, video, audio, and scripted lab sessions. The freedom to devote weeks of time to perfect an hour of self-study training led to a permanent position with Deltak, Inc., one of the first companies to produce media-based courses for computer professionals. At Deltak, Bill established the job of quality assurance manager while also serving as the product manager for all operating system courses. His interest in applying educational technologies to computer training led to dozens of magazine articles and the creation (with Auerbach Publishers) of DP Training, the first subscription publication devoted to the art of training computer professionals.

 

Bill founded Hansen Training Systems, Inc. in 1980. HTS specializes in media-based training for IBM midrange and mainframe systems. HTS has been a leader in the use of personal computers to simulate larger systems since its first CBT course in 1985. Bill's courses have included simulators of MVS, JES2, VM, VSE, the ES/900 hardware console, and OS/400 (now IBM i). With his business partner, John Todd, Bill designed EasyTutor, a PC-based authoring system that includes native facilities for the simulation of both green-screen and GUI applications. Seeing the benefits of EasyTutor for AS/400 training, Bill and John founded Manta in 1994. Manta's 120 courses push Bill's lifetime total to over 300 courses that he has written, designed, edited, and/or updated.

 

Bill is the current Education Manager for COMMON, the Power Systems users' group. He and his wife, Sandy, have four children and four grandchildren, who enjoy watching him feed the sharks, eels, and rays in his position as a volunteer diver at the Denver Aquarium.

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    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.