The Way We Word: Record-Level Access Revisited!

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Back in June, I wrote a column describing, among other things, how to use IBM's index access object to speed up record-level access. Then I got a letter--well, an email--from IBM's own Troy Bleeker:


I just saw your article in my email. I own the OLE DB provider that you wrote about for MC Mag Online. Thank you for a good, detailed article. Well written. You have hit the essence of the usefulness of record-level access: quick look-ups."

This is very technical language, so permit me to translate: "Devous, you are brilliant. Your keen mind and sharp wit are overshadowed only by your rational and humble personality. You should be writing operating systems, not articles! You are severely underpaid!"

There, that clears that up. Troy continued:

"However, I'm writing to tell you that you might want to investigate the Seek method of ADO. You said ADO did not have one, but it has. Ever since ADO 2.1 (I'm pretty sure), but certainly 2.5 on up has it.... We added support for this method in V5R1M0. Many customers should be moving toward this release if not already there."

He's right. I did say that, and I was wrong. What I should have said was that the Client Access ADO provider that comes with Client Access Express V4R5 and below doesn't support use of ADO's index property or seek method. The column dealt, in part, with using IBM's AD400 index object to overcome this limitation.

Troy added:

"Why is it important? Who cares? Well, we are recommending that people stop using the AD400 index object. It will not get any enhancements. For example, it will not be 64-bit processor enabled. Also, it requires jobs on the AS/400 to do its work. The index.GetBookmark must operate on a second job to find the bookmark, then that bookmark is used on the recordSet. Move, and the real job gets positioned. It was only meant as a workaround while ADO did not have the support. Since ADO has that now, everyone should be using it.

"Our Visual Basic wizards in V5R1M0 generate VB code without the index object and our V5R1M0 samples, downloadable from the Web here, use the new recordSet.Seek() method as well.

"I just thought you might want the latest info to make your next, follow-up article (hint) the best it can be.


Troy C. Bleeker
IBM eServer iSeries Data Providers"

Thanks for the hint, Troy, and the kind words.

So, how can you move from using the AD400 index object to using the IBMDA400 provider's seek and index support? Well, it ain't as hard as it sounds, so here we go!

Excel-lent Beginnings

In the June column, I detailed how to create a table with an index and then access records in that table using its index. The purpose was to update records in an Excel spreadsheet based on iSeries data. That example was pretty detailed because I wanted to illustrate the power of the ADO provider when combined with indexes and the use of SQL. Since we're only concerned with one topic here, we'll use something a little simpler.

For this month's example, I've created a spreadsheet with a list of UPC codes. The codes represent products, but let's pretend we don't know which products and need to find out. Let's use a VBA macro to process each record in the spreadsheet, and then do a seek to find the UPC code on the iSeries, and then fill in the blank fields.

The Building Blocks

The product I am working with is sportswear--polo shirts and T-shirts. The UPC translates to a specific style, color, and size of shirt, with a specific logo embroidered on the left of the chest. I know the UPC, and I want to know what values the other components are.

Column A Column B Column C Column D Column E Column F
UPC Code Logo Number Description Style Color Size

Figure 1: What goes where?

The table in Figure 1 details what the various columns of the spreadsheet contain. Since I have the UPC code, it'll be the VBA project's job to fill in the remaining columns. So, I'll access the VB editor in Excel (either from the Tools menu or by pressing Alt+F11) and insert a module.

Before I start writing code, I need to add the Microsoft ActiveX Data Objects library to my project references (it's on the Tools menu in the VB editor). This will include the objects I need to get at the iSeries data. Remember that the example here assumes I have the Client Access Express V5R1 or better data provider installed. The provider is included with Client Access and installs by default.

How I Did It

Now for the code:

Dim cniSeries As ADODB.Connection
Dim rsUPCbyUPC As ADODB.Recordset
Dim rsItemMasterbyItem As ADODB.Recordset

Sub GetUPCInfo()
Const lStartRow As Long = 2
Dim lLastRow As Long
Dim lThisRow As Long
Dim UPCKey, ItemKey

Application.ScreenUpdating = False

Set cniSeries = New ADODB.Connection
cniSeries.Open "Provider=IBMDA400;Data Source=;", "", ""

Set rsUPCbyUPC = New ADODB.Recordset
rsUPCbyUPC.CursorLocation = adUseServer
rsUPCbyUPC.Open "/QSYS.LIB/BPCSCDUSRF.LIB/UPCWEBL2.FILE(*FIRST, *NONE)", cniSeries, adOpenStatic, adLockReadOnly, adCmdTableDirect

Set rsItemMasterbyItem = New ADODB.Recordset
rsItemMasterbyItem.CursorLocation = adUseServer
rsItemMasterbyItem.Index = "/QSYS.LIB/BPCS405CDF.LIB/IIML01.FILE(*FIRST, *NONE)"
rsItemMasterbyItem.Open "/QSYS.LIB/BPCS405CDF.LIB/IIML01.FILE(*FIRST, *NONE)", cniSeries, adOpenStatic, adLockReadOnly, adCmdTableDirect

lLastRow = Cells.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeLastCell).Row

For lThisRow = lStartRow To lLastRow
    Application.StatusBar = "Processing row " & Format(lThisRow, "#,##0") & " of " & Format(lLastRow, "#,##0")
    If Not IsEmpty(UPCKey) Then
       Erase UPCKey
    End If
    If CStr(Cells(lThisRow, 1).Value) = "" Then
       Exit For
    End If
    UPCKey = Array(Cells(lThisRow, 1).Value)
    rsUPCbyUPC.Seek UPCKey, adSeekFirstEQ
    If Not rsUPCbyUPC.EOF Then
       Cells(lThisRow, 2).Value = rsUPCbyUPC("UTAPE")
       Cells(lThisRow, 4).Value = rsUPCbyUPC("UPRDDSC")
       Cells(lThisRow, 5).Value = rsUPCbyUPC("UCOLRDS")
       Cells(lThisRow, 6).Value = rsUPCbyUPC("USIZDES")

       'logo description
       ItemKey = Array(rsUPCbyUPC("UTAPE"))
       rsItemMasterbyItem.Seek ItemKey, adSeekFirstEQ
       If Not rsItemMasterbyItem.EOF Then
          Cells(lThisRow, 3).Value = rsItemMasterbyItem("IDESC")
          Cells(lThisRow, 3).Value = "NOT FOUND"
       End If
    End If


Application.StatusBar = "Ready"
Application.ScreenUpdating = True
MsgBox "Done updating spreadsheet!"

End Sub

The meat and potatoes come in two different parts of the dish. Here's the meat:

Set cniSeries = New ADODB.Connection
cniSeries.Open "Provider=IBMDA400;Data Source=;", "", ""

Set rsUPCbyUPC = New ADODB.Recordset
rsUPCbyUPC.CursorLocation = adUseServer
rsUPCbyUPC.Open "/QSYS.LIB/BPCSCDUSRF.LIB/UPCWEBL2.FILE(*FIRST, *NONE)", cniSeries, adOpenStatic, adLockReadOnly, adCmdTableDirect

I defined the cnIseries variable and the recordset variables above the start of the subroutine so that they would be global to all the subroutines and functions in the project. If I decide to add to this, anything I add will also have visibility to these globally scoped variables.

Note that the recordset object uses a server-side cursor. The index property (upon which the seek depends) requires a server-side cursor. I also have to set the index and cursor properties before I open the recordset. The open command uses IFS syntax, naming the file by its IFS path. *FIRST and *NONE refer to members and journaling, respectively. This syntax applies to both the index property and the open statement.

In opening the file, I name my connection (cniSeries), cursor type, lock type, and command type. In the example, I've used a static cursor, which will not reflect changes made by other users. Seeing changes is not important to me in this context, so I'll avoid a dynamic cursor and speed up performance. I could also use a forward-only cursor for even better performance. For this application, it would work, but the limitation would be that I could only move forward through the data. (See your ADO documentation for a full explanation of cursor types.)

The lock type tells the provider what type of lock to put on the records. Since I'm not updating, I've used read-only. The command type tells the provider how to interpret the command string. In this case, I've told the provider that this is a table whose columns will all be returned. I could also use an SQL statement, a stored procedure, or a persistent recordset. (See your ADO reference for a complete explanation.)

I then move the pointer to the first record in the recordset. Without this, the seek will not correctly function because you must access the recordset for the seek to return EOF when a match is not found on a seek equal. Note that with a server-side cursor, you have to explicitly release the record or close and reestablish the recordset to move the pointer.

Now, the potatoes:

UPCKey = Array(Cells(lThisRow, 1).Value)
rsUPCbyUPC.Seek UPCKey, adSeekFirstEQ
If Not rsUPCbyUPC.EOF Then


End If

UPCKey is a variant. To do the seek, make it an array of values. This is very like establishing a keylist in RPG. You can use all of the key fields or the first few. If you use more than one, you have to go in order, following the defined key. For example, if your file is keyed on Field 1, Field 2, and Field 3, you can use Field 1, or Field 1, 2, and 3, or Field 1 and 2, but not Field 1 and 3.

So you set up your key list by using array(Value, Value, Value...). In this case, I'm using only one key, so I use only one value. Then, I execute the seek.

It should be noted that, at this writing, the seek method incorrectly assumes that the order of key fields in the key list will match the order of those fields in the table. That is, if you have a table with Field 1, Field 2, Field 3, it is assumed that you won't create a key like Field 3, Field 1. There is an APAR on this issue (SE08268), and it should be resolved shortly. In the meantime, for multiple key seeks, build your logicals so that the fields are in the same order as the physical.

When executing the seek method, you must provide the key and the seek type. In this case, I'm looking for a record equal to my key, so I use the adSeekFirstEqual value. This will find a match or set the recordset to EOF if there is no match. If you are not at end of file, set the value in your cells and search for the tape description in item master, using the same technique used for the UPCbyUPC recordset.

Figure 2 shows the seek types and what they do:

Seeks the first record whose key is equal to the key array
Seeks the last record whose key is equal to the key array
Seeks either a record whose key is equal to the key array or a record just after where that match would have occurred
Seeks a record key just after where a match with the key array would have occurred
Seeks either a record with a key equal to the key array or just before a matching record
Seeks a record just before a matching record

Figure 2: This table shows the seek type enumerators.

Running the macro fills in the values, as shown in Figure 3:
Figure 3: The spreadsheet...before and after.

Like the AD400 index provider, this method is lightning fast. It also has the advantage of lower overhead at the iSeries than the older method had. If possible, you should begin using this in favor of the AD400 index provider, which is more or less discontinued and will not be supported on the new 64-bit machines.

This technique is particularly useful when you want to open one recordset but look for records matching varying values. When SQL won't do, this can be extremely useful. I encourage you to try this at your own site, because it can help you to produce more powerful applications, and your users to work more productively.

Drat! He got me! OK, I gotta get my focus back on Doom!

Chris Devous is the Director of IT Systems Development at The Antigua Group, Inc., a Peoria, Arizona, garment manufacturer. Chris has been in IT since '82 and lives Arizona with his wife, three children, a bird, two dogs, a cat, and various marine life forms. He can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..







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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.



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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.