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Programming in Visual Basic Using the IBM AS/400 SDK for ActiveX and OLE DB

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The IBM AS/400 SDK for ActiveX and OLE DB is an excellent tool for developing mainstream client/server applications with the AS/400. With the wide range of access methods available, you can create a reliable business-caliber application and obtain satisfactory performance. The SDK is well designed, full featured, and free—and it interfaces easily with PC programming languages like Visual Basic.

Once it was called Project Lightning. Then, it became the Lightning Software Development Kit (SDK). Finally, its official name is the IBM AS/400 SDK for ActiveX and OLE DB. Are you still confused about what it is and what it does? Do you feel like you need a Ph.D. in client/serverology to understand it? Well, don’t worry. This article removes some of the mystery from IBM’s newest PC server package and explains how it works with Client Access and PC programming languages (such as Visual Basic, Delphi, and PowerBuilder) to provide seamless Microsoft OLE DB-to-AS/400 connectivity for your PC-based applications.

With the SDK, your PC applications can access DB2/400 files and AS/400 data queues, call AS/400 programs, and execute OS/400 commands, SQL statements, and stored procedures. I’ll introduce SDK, explaining what it is; how it interfaces with Microsoft’s OLE DB and ActiveX; and how you order, install, and get technical support for the product. It even provides sample code so you can program your first Visual Basic- to-AS/400 application. (Editor’s note: All sample code printed here is available for download on the Web at www.midrangecomputing.com/mc/98/10). You’ll also explore some of the not-so-insignificant problems involved in using the new SDK. You’ll be accessing AS/400 data from your PC programming languages in no time after you read this article.

What About the Name?

First, there’s that name—the IBM AS/400 SDK for ActiveX and OLE DB. Although accurate, it’s not exactly catchy. It’s way too long and carries more letters than a

mailman. Is it any wonder, then, that many programmers still call it the Lightning SDK or, more properly, the AS/400 ActiveX SDK?

Perhaps you’ll get a better idea of what the OLE DB Provider and the SDK are after you examine the conditions that spawned their existence from IBM’s point of view.

As you well know, IBM intends to place the AS/400 in the center of the server market fray. To this end, IBM has endeavored to address criticisms of the AS/400’s role as a server through a policy of “embrace and extend.” In other words, IBM has eliminated or will eliminate the grounds for each well-founded knock on the AS/400 by “making the AS/400 do that,” whatever that is.

In the face of this policy, IBM also realizes that Microsoft’s Windows programming technology (called OLE Automation or just Automation) has an indefatigable presence in the real world (i.e., Microsoft claims an amazing 3 million Visual Basic programmers are out there). To quiet any criticism that AS/400 data and processing are inaccessible to Windows programmers, IBM created a Microsoft OLE Automation- compatible gateway to AS/400 data and programs. This gateway, called the Client Access OLE DB Provider, is designed to work with Microsoft’s latest universal data access technology: OLE DB and ADO. Microsoft also provides an OLE DB Provider with SNA Server 4.0. However, SNA Server will cost you, and it might be overkill to buy SNA Server just to get the OLE DB Provider. (For more information about Microsoft’s OLE DB Provider, see the “OLE DB Provider for AS/400 and VSAM” sidebar.)

The Client Access OLE DB Provider is somewhat misunderstood because it gives you nothing to look at. It includes no user interface screens or dialog boxes. You don’t have a menu option that starts the DB Provider, nor do you set DB Provider properties as you do for Client Access connections.

The OLE DB/ADO object is an OLE Automation Server. In this case, that means it is a wrapper (a consolidation of functions fitted with a more convenient interface) for low- level communications processes with a server. When used with the Client Access OLE DB Provider, the OLE DB/ADO object has access to the AS/400 that Windows invokes under the covers whenever needed. OLE Automation technology makes an object’s processes (called methods) and data (called properties) available to other programs. The set of externally available properties and methods is said to be the object’s exposed or public interface. The manner in which an object’s public interface is laid out is called its object model.

For example, consider the PC programming code in Figure 1 to declare an object variable named MyConnectionObject as type AD400.Connection. (A connection object is part of OLE DB/ADO support or, as in this instance, IBM’s additional support for record- level access to indexed files. A connection object provides physical communication with the AS/400.) In each code example, the DB Provider supplies the information needed to create an object representing a connection to the AS/400.

Windows programming languages take advantage of underlying support within Windows for making external processes and data available to Automation-enabled programs. How you use this Microsoft technology is determined by rules called the Component Object Model (COM).

Microsoft’s OLE DB/ADO Support

The IBM Client Access OLE DB Provider takes advantage of a recent Microsoft technology called OLE DB (pronounced o-lay dee-bee). This technology provides the underlying support for access to a variety of databases in an OLE Automation format. Although you can code directly to the OLE DB interface, a more friendly access is gained through use of yet another layer—the ActiveX Data Object (ADO).

The ADO is a wrapper for complex interactions with OLE DB. It provides a more workable interface to OLE DB and is employed by the Client Access OLE DB Provider to supply AS/400 data and processes.

The base support for OLE DB and ADO is part of Microsoft’s Universal Data Access technology (see http://www.microsoft.com/ data for more information). The support programs you need to install on your PC to use OLE DB/ADO may come from a variety of sources, including IBM ActiveX SDK and Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0. You can also download it from Microsoft. This base support, however, is only half of the picture. The base OLE DB/ADO support needs specific processing information and connectivity capability for each database to which it is to connect. This is where the Client Access OLE DB Provider comes in. It works together with base OLE DB support, through the ADO layer, to provide access to a specific database: the AS/400.

Feeling a Bit Orphaned

The IBM SDK for ActiveX has suffered from a high level of anticipation prior to its release and a low profile for the actual product since. Although the SDK development team is dedicated to the package, one gets the feeling that IBM management merely tolerates its existence and is annoyed by having to embrace a Microsoft technology. (Links to the SDK team’s Web site remain conspicuously absent from other IBM sites.) Nevertheless, the AS/400 SDK is included in Client Access/400 base support (V3R1M3 and higher or by PTF to prior releases).

Regardless of IBM’s low regard for its own product, the IBM SDK for ActiveX and OLE DB is a valuable yet possibly unappreciated set of tools that an AS/400 applications programmer can use almost immediately to create business-caliber client/server applications. The product’s connection stability is acceptable, as is its communications performance.

IBM Support for the SDK

IBM handles support for the SDK differently than for other products. According to IBM, the SDK is provided more or less on an as is basis. If you call the support line, you probably will not obtain formal help-desk support for your problem. However, this doesn’t signify a total lack of support for the SDK. The development team provides SDK support informally through email; you can send questions to the team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The programmers who use the SDK might actually benefit from this arrangement, at least for now. Considering how much it costs to get even one formal development question answered by IBM Partners in Development, it might be considered even a bargain to get email answers.

The IBM team also offers SDK service packs through the Web, so they are updating the product and providing fixes. The first service pack is currently available at the AS/400 SDK for ActiveX and OLE DB Web site at http://www.as400.ibm.com/clientaccess/oledb. Once you reach the site, the option to download the service pack is contained in the page text, not in the download options on the left-hand side of the screen.

What Can You Do with the ActiveX SDK?

The Client Access OLE DB Provider object is a set of specially constructed Windows routines that work with Client Access/400 to communicate with corresponding support programs on the AS/400. These programs come with Client Access and allow access to the following AS/400 data and processes:

• Files (tables)—Access DB2/400 files at the record level for insert, update, or delete operations.

• Data queues—Create, clear, or delete AS/400 data queues; read or write data queue entries.

• Programs—Call a user-written AS/400 application program from the client program and pass both input and output parameters.

• Commands—Execute AS/400 commands from the client.
• SQL statements—Interact with AS/400 files directly with SQL statements.
• SQL stored procedures—Manage and execute AS/400 stored procedures; return result sets.

This is not to suggest, however, that you need to know how to use all of these features in order to use any of them. They can function independently and don’t necessarily go together. Most applications will use, at most, two of these access types. For example, you might build a client/server application that uses data queues to pass data back and forth. In this same application, you’ll need a means of starting your AS/400 data queue partner program. The AS/400 command feature of the SDK will fill this need nicely by allowing you to issue the AS/400 Submit Job (SBMJOB) command to start the partner program.

How Do You Use the SDK?

When properly installed (see the “Installing the IBM AS/400 SDK for ActiveX and OLE DB” sidebar), the SDK makes itself known to Automation support through the Windows registry. Your client programming language can then access the SDK’s object library by reference. Therefore, prerequisite to the use of the SDK is a knowledge of your client language’s mechanism for establishing a reference to an OLE Automation server.

For example, in Visual Basic 5.0, references to support for record-level access to DB2/400 files and Microsoft’s OLE DB ADO support are set by taking the References... option from the Project menu within the Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Place a check mark next to the entry for AS/400 SDK Runtime Tables Index Reads Type Library (it may be listed as cwbzzidx 1.0 Type Library) to set a reference to record-level access support. Once added, the reference text will become AS/400 SDK Runtime Tables Index Reads Type Library. Also place a check next to the entry for Microsoft’s support for OLE DB/ADO—Microsoft OLE DB ActiveX Data Objects 1.0 Library. After selecting both these items, click OK, and your application will support the SDK (see Figure 2). Also, for Visual Basic 5.0, you must reference these Automation servers for every program you write that uses the SDK. They are not carried over from application to application.

Once a reference is set, the public methods and properties provided by the Client Access OLE DB Provider and ADO are available to your Visual Basic program.

You should understand that Microsoft OLE DB/ADO technology uses the Client Access OLE DB Provider to get at AS/400 data and processing. You don’t declare a reference to Client Access OLE DB Provider to use it; you pass its name to the OLE DB/ADO object. You then use methods and properties of the OLE DB/ADO objects to get to the AS/400 data and processing. Microsoft’s OLE DB/ADO, however, does not support record-level access to indexed files at this time. To remedy this shortcoming, the IBM SDK development team has provided an additional library of objects: the AS/400 SDK Runtime Tables Index Reads Type Library. The set of objects contained in this library will retrieve a pointer (called a bookmark) to a given record by key. The bookmark may then be used by OLE DB/ADO to actually retrieve the record (see program examples in Figures 5 and 6 on the Web at http://www.midrangecomputing.com/mc/98/10).

Learning the OLE DB Provider and ADO Object Models

Each access type available within the Client Access OLE DB Provider has exposed methods and properties appropriate for it, collectively called a public interface. Once you decide which type to use, your next step involves studying the public interface and learning how to use it.

You have several tools available to help you with this. You can (and should) read the ADO and Technical Reference help documentation installed as part of the SDK. These documents provide overviews and technical reference information essential to use ADO and the OLE DB Provider.

You must become familiar with the basics of the ADO layer of OLE DB. Once a connection is made through the Client Access OLE DB Provider, standard ADO methods and properties are used to actually read and write data.

For another source, you can consult the sample programs provided as part of the SDK. Sample programs are included for Visual Basic 4.0 and 5.0, Delphi 2.0 and 3.0, PowerBuilder 5.0, and Visual C++ 5.0. Further, if you’re using Visual Basic, you can employ the add-in wizard for Visual Basic that comes with the SDK to generate skeletal

Visual Basic program code (Figure 3). The code can then be fleshed out to form a real application (see the “Installing the the IBM AS/400 SDK for ActiveX and OLE DB” sidebar for notes about installing the wizard.)

Sequential and Record-level Access to an AS/400 File with Visual Basic

Perhaps the most valuable tool in the SDK is the ability to access AS/400 file data at the record level. This type of access, presented in the following example, most closely aligns with standard AS/400 programming practices. The example described here shows how to read an AS/400 file sequentially.

This section of the article also presents a second example on how to retrieve a record by key, but the code for that example resides on Midrange Computing’s Web site at http://www.midrangecomputing.com/mc/98/10. The code for the sequential read program is also available for download from MC’s Web site.

Accessing an AS/400 File Sequentially

This Visual Basic 5.0 program simply reads an unknown number of AS/400 source file records into a list box using the familiar coding technique of reading a record and entering a DO loop that contains another read at the bottom. In RPG IV, this technique would look like the code listing in Figure 4.

This humble application of the SDK can get by with only the functionality that comes with ADO (with an internal assist from the IBMDA400 data provider), so you’ll only need to set a reference to Microsoft OLE DB ActiveX Data Objects 1.0 Library (see Figure 2). Once you’ve done this, you may define objects needed to access the AS/400 and to read data, as the code in Figure 5 illustrates.

The connection object is used to tell ADO support to use the IBMDA400 access provider and to connect to the AS/400. The command object tells ADO support which file to open and which access method to use. The recordset object is needed to accept the results of the execution of the command object. You normally declare these objects as public so they can be used throughout a form or program.

The code listing in Figure 6 creates the objects defined in Figure 5 and uses the recordset object to fill a list box for display. The sample data comes from file QDDSSRC in library QGPL, member *FIRST. (On most systems, the QDSIGNON source code will be present.)

Figures 5 and 6 contain all the code required to read through an AS/400 file sequentially—in this case, to fill a list box at program startup time. You must also create a Visual Basic form named Form1 that contains one list box called List1 to display the output from your QDDSSRC source file. For information on creating Visual Basic forms, see your Visual Basic programming documentation.

In the sample code, the first reference point, denoted by (1), shows the necessary objects being created with the Set statements. In reference point (2), the Open method of the connection object defines and establishes a connection. Notice that the name of the ADO connection provider (IBMDA400) is supplied, as is the name of the AS/400 (Sxxxxxxx, where Sxxxxxxx is your system name). You use the remaining two arguments to specify a user ID and password. If none are specified, your current user ID is used or a sign-on panel is displayed. The Set statement at reference point (3) then associates the command object’s ActiveConnection property with the new connection.

At reference point (4), the CommandText property of the command object is set to the desired AS/400 file, using the following syntax:

LIBRARY/FILE(MEMBER, RECORD FORMAT, COMMITMENT CONTROL)

Don’t confuse the term command as used here with AS/400 CL command. Here, it means query command—a request for data from a file.

The line at (5) creates a parameter object to be sent to the IBMDA400 access provider. The parameter’s name will be P1, of type character. This line further specifies P1 as an input type of parameter of length 1. The parameter is not given an initial value. (Note:

If the P1 parameter is not created and appended to the command object, the open table will not work correctly when you use ADO 1.0. This problem has been fixed in ADO 1.5. For more information, see the Installing ADO 1.5 topic in the SDK Technical Reference.)

In the next line (6), the rubber meets the road. The query command is executed and the results are obtained in a recordset object. The first two arguments are varRcds, or records affected by an update (not applicable in this case), and varParms, or parameter values passed with an SQL statement (also not applicable). These two optional arguments are in place only to allow the third argument adCmdTable—a value that tells ADO to interpret the command string to be the name of a file rather than a literal command.

The With structure at (7) is just shorthand. The .MoveFirst statement sets the file pointer to the first record and reads it. The DO loop at (8) loads a record into the list box and reads the next record until an EOF condition is met. Once the file has been read, the connection, command, and recordset objects are no longer needed, so they are destroyed with the Set statements at (9). The list box is then displayed (Figure 7).

Accessing an AS/400 Record by Key

A second Visual Basic program to retrieve AS/400 records by key is available for download on MC’s Web site. This program uses the same objects as the sequential read program, but retrieving records by key requires the help of the Client Access OLE DB Provider. Currently, OLE DB does not support a Seek or FindFirst method, so the Client Access OLE DB Provider comes with an index object to determine the file’s cursor position for a given key value. The cursor position (called a bookmark) is then passed to the recordset object to retrieve the record in question. For further discussion and an example of how this is accomplished, please refer to the code on the Web site.

Recommendations for Using the SDK

The IBM AS/400 SDK for ActiveX and OLE DB is an excellent tool for developing mainstream client/server applications with the AS/400. With the wide range of access methods available, you can create a reliable business-caliber application and obtain satisfactory performance. The package is well designed, full featured, and free.

The SDK, however, relies on the proper support software being present on the AS/400. Until this level of OS/400 is widespread, applications built with the SDK and intended for general distribution may be difficult to deploy and support. But for everyone else...what are you waiting for?!

OLE DB Provider for AS/400 and VSAM

If desktop connectivity to the AS/400 is involved, you can be sure that Microsoft is involved as well, even if it’s a simple single connection to a desktop Windows PC. For years, Microsoft has offered communication products; and, for AS/400 users, its BackOffice product known as SNA Server is particularly interesting. SNA Server’s primary purpose is to provide a gateway between a Windows NT LAN and the AS/400.

Undoubtedly, gateways can reduce the resources required on a single AS/400 server by distributing services to other systems. Gateways can also open the door to additional features you might not be able to get from a single-server environment.

Universal Data Access and OLE DB

Over the past several years, Microsoft has also developed core technologies meant to provide access to data whether it resides on a desktop system or on the enterprise. Microsoft calls this technology platform Universal Data Access. Universal Data Access consists of a collection of software components that interact with each other, such as ActiveX Data Objects (ADO), OLE DB, Remote Data Service (RDS), and even Component Object Model (COM).

Of these technologies, the OLE DB component is very useful in AS/400 shops. It comes included as a component of Microsoft’s SNA Server 4.0 gateway, so it’s virtually free if you already use SNA Server. The

official name of the component is Microsoft’s OLE DB Provider for AS/400 and VSAM, but most people refer to it as OLE DB. To obtain more information on SNA Server and OLE DB as whole, see the Microsoft SNA Server home page at http://www.microsoft.com/sna/default.asp.

The history of Microsoft’s OLE DB goes as follows. While IBM was developing Project Lightning to produce the AS/400 SDK for ActiveX and OLE DB, Microsoft was developing a competing technology called Thor that also aimed to provide record-level access to the AS/400 from PCs. Thor evolved into the OLE DB component of SNA Server, so the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

One of the biggest benefits of OLE DB to an AS/400 developer—that it provides record-level access to AS/400 files—is only the beginning. Developers also gain the advantage of using OLE DB as a common interface to dissimilar databases in the enterprise. And OLE DB offers both PC-to-host and Web-to-host data access. See Figure A for an illustration of how OLE DB fits into this type environment.

As for the AS/400, OLE DB includes the following:
• Support for keyed and nonkeyed physical files and logical files
• Reading from and writing to AS/400 files without first transferring the information to the PC platform
• Because of its record-level access features, integration of PC applications with nonstructured data (flat files, such as S/36 files or Integrated File System [IFS] files) with desktop and server-based databases and tools, and Web applications
• Client/server development using high-level interfaces, such as ADO, supported in Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual J++, Visual Basic for Applications, and ActiveX Scripting.

In order for OLE DB to gain access to your AS/400 files, you define data sources much as you would in ODBC. OLE DB (or ADO) accesses AS/400 files through OS/400’s Distributed Data Management (DDM) architecture and through the native AS/400 SNA environment. For the ODBC programmer who wants to learn OLE DB, Microsoft offers a white paper on the Web called OLE DB for the ODBC Programmer that explains OLE DB concepts in terms of ODBC. That paper is available at http://www.microsoft.com/data/oledb/ prodinfo/wpapers/oledb4odbc.htm.

A Microsoft-only Solution

As is often the case with Microsoft products, OLE DB is feature rich, but be aware that it makes many of its benefits possible only through other Microsoft products such as SNA Server and Internet Information Server. If you buy into Microsoft’s Universal Data Access platform, you’ve probably already bought into other Microsoft products, or chances are good that you soon will.

Ñ Richard Shaler

Windows NT

SNA Server OLE DB

Internet Information Server





Programming_in_Visual_Basic_Using_the_IBM_AS-_400_...07-00.png 39x43

DB2/400

LAN





Programming_in_Visual_Basic_Using_the_IBM_AS-_400_...07-02.png 39x43

Record-level Access





Programming_in_Visual_Basic_Using_the_IBM_AS-_400_...07-01.png 39x43




Browser



Programming_in_Visual_Basic_Using_the_IBM_AS-_400_...07-03.png 129x106

Internet

Figure A: The OLE DB environment

Installing the IBM AS/400 SDK for ActiveX and OLE DB

To install the new SDK, do the following:

• Install Client Access/400 V3R1M3 or above on the AS/400. (Note that the version number for Client Access does not correspond to your OS/400 version number.)

• Check the AS/400 ActiveX SDK Web site at http://www.as400.ibm.com/clientaccess/oledb for recent AS/400 PTF information.

• Install the most current cumulative PTFs for your version of OS/400 if you want to use record-level access over native TCP/IP connections (WinSock).

• Install the most recent Client Access service pack on the PC (SF48155 for V3R1M3 at this writing, but another V3R1M3 service pack is scheduled to be released on October 7, 1998. V3R2, being a new product, may also have a service pack available by the time you read this). Service packs are available at IBM’s Client Access Web site at http://as400.rochester.ibm.com/clientaccess/.

• If you’re not running Client Access V3R2, download the SDK installation package from the IBM development team’s Web site (it’s free). This file, named SETUPEX.EXE, is a 3.8 Mb self-extracting zip file. For Client Access/400 V3R2, the SDK setup program is available on your Client Access/400 CD.

• Install the SDK, taking all of the defaults presented.

A development PC or a PC running applications built with the SDK relies on corresponding partner programs to be present on the AS/400. While OS/400 V4R2 and above includes all AS/400 support for the SDK within Client Access, users of prior versions and release levels of OS/400 must apply appropriate PTFs to load the AS/400 support code for record-level access over TCP/IP. (Other forms of SDK access to the AS/400 do not require PTFs.) You can obtain further details at the SDK team’s Web site.

Check the team’s support Web site for late-breaking information. For example, presently, if you plan to use the Add-Ins wizard for Visual Basic 4.0/5.0, you should download the replacement wizard library file cwbzzvbw.dll, now available at the AS/400 SDK Web site. Be sure to follow the installation directions provided.

Note: Particular applications may have additional requirements. For instance, to have record-level access to AS/400 files over a pure TCP/IP connection, you must start the TCP/IP server for DDM on the AS/400. To do so, you use the Start TCP/IP Server (STRTCPSVR) command as follows:

STRTCPSVR SERVER(*DDM)

— Chris Peters

Delphi example
MyConnectionObject : Variant;
MyConnectionObject := CreateOleObject('ad400.connection');

PowerBuilder example
oleobject MyConnectionObject
MyConnectionObject = CREATE OLEObject
MyConnectionObject.ConnectToNewObject ("ad400.connection")

Visual Basic example
Public MyConnectionObject As AD400.Connection

Set MyConnectionObject = New AD400.Connection

Figure 1: Various examples of PC code declare an object variable as type AD400.Connection


Figure 2: Set the references to Client Access OLE DB Provider and Microsoft’s OLE DB ADO to make Visual Basic support the SDK





Programming_in_Visual_Basic_Using_the_IBM_AS-_400_...09-00.png 900x714




Figure 3: SDK’s Visual Basic Add-Ins wizard allows you to generate skeletal Visual Basic code


C *LoVal SetLL MyFile
C Read MyFile 20
C DoW *In20 = *Off
C ...write to subfile...

C Read MyFile 20
C EndDo

Figure 4: RPG IV technique reads an unknown number of AS/400 source file records

Option Explicit
Public objADOConnection As ADODB.Connection
Public objADOCommand As ADODB.Command
Public objADORecordSet As ADODB.Recordset

Figure 5: Visual Basic 5.0 code to create objects for the program listed in Figure 6

Private Sub Form_Load()

Dim varRcds As Variant

Dim varParms As Variant

(1) Set objADOConnection = New ADODB.Connection
Set objADOCommand = New ADODB.Command
Set objADORecordSet = New ADODB.Recordset

(2) objADOConnection.Open “Provider=IBMDA400;Data Source=Sxxxxxxx;”, “”, “”
(3) Set objADOCommand.ActiveConnection = objADOConnection

(4) objADOCommand.CommandText = “QGPL/QDDSSRC(*FIRST, *FIRST, *NONE)”
(5) objADOCommand.Parameters.Append _
objADOCommand.CreateParameter(“P1”, adChar, adParamInput, 1)
(6) Set objADORecordSet = objADOCommand.Execute(varRcds, varParms, _
adCmdTable)

(7) With objADORecordSet



Programming_in_Visual_Basic_Using_the_IBM_AS-_400_...10-00.png 900x527

.MoveFirst
(8) Do While Not .EOF

List1.AddItem .Fields(“SRCDAT”) & “ “ & .Fields(“SRCDTA”)

.MoveNext

Loop
End With

(9) Set objADORecordSet = Nothing
Set objADOCommand = Nothing
Set objADOConnection = Nothing

End Sub

Figure 6: Visual Basic 5.0 code to read and display the first member of the QGPL/QDDSSRC file


Figure 7: This list box is displayed when you run the VB program to sequentially read and display the first member of a QGPL/QDDSSRC file





Programming_in_Visual_Basic_Using_the_IBM_AS-_400_...11-00.png 900x504

Chris Peters has 32 years of experience with IBM midrange and PC platforms. Chris is president of Evergreen Interactive Systems, a software development firm and creators of the iSeries Report Downloader. Chris is the author of i5/OS and Microsoft Office Integration Handbook, AS/400 TCP/IP Handbook, AS/400 Client/Server Programming with Visual Basic, and Peer Networking on the AS/400. He is also a nationally recognized seminar instructor and a lecturer in the Computer Science department at Eastern Washington University. Chris can be reached at Chris@EvergreenInteractive.com.


MC Press books written by Chris Peters available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

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    HelpSystems

    This year marks the sixth edition of the popular IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, HelpSystems sets out to gather data about how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT initiatives it supports. Year over year, the survey has begun to reveal long-term trends that give insight into the future of this trusted technology.

    More than 500 IBM i users from around the globe participated in this year’s survey, and we’re so happy to share the results with you. We hope you’ll find the information interesting and useful as you evaluate your own IT projects.

  • AIX Security Basics eCourse

    Core Security

    With so many organizations depending on AIX day to day, ensuring proper security and configuration is critical to ensure the safety of your environment. Don’t let common threats put your critical AIX servers at risk. Avoid simple mistakes and start to build a long-term plan with this AIX Security eCourse. Enroll today to get easy to follow instructions on topics like:

    • Removing extraneous files
    • Patching systems efficiently
    • Setting and validating permissions
    • Managing service considerations
    • Getting overall visibility into your networks

     

  • Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.

    Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    HelpSystemsIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact

     

  • IBM i Resources Retiring?

    SB HelpSystems WC GenericLet’s face it: IBM i experts and RPG programmers are retiring from the workforce. Are you prepared to handle their departure?
    Our panel of IBM i experts—Chuck Losinski, Robin Tatam, Richard Schoen, and Tom Huntington—will outline strategies that allow your company to cope with IBM i skills depletion by adopting these strategies that allow you to get the job done without deep expertise on the OS:
    - Automate IBM i processes
    - Use managed services to help fill the gaps
    - Secure the system against data loss and viruses
    The strategies you discover in this webinar will help you ensure that your system of record—your IBM i—continues to deliver a powerful business advantage, even as staff retires.

     

  • Backup and Recovery Considerations for Security Data and Encrypted Backups

    SB PowerTech WC GenericSecurity expert Carol Woodbury is joined by Debbie Saugen. Debbie is an expert on IBM i backup and recovery, disaster recovery, and high availability, helping IBM i shops build and implement effective business continuity plans.
    In today’s business climate, business continuity is more important than ever. But 83 percent of organizations are not totally confident in their backup strategy.
    During this webinar, Carol and Debbie discuss the importance of a good backup plan, how to ensure you’re backing up your security information, and your options for encrypted back-ups.

  • Profound.js: The Agile Approach to Legacy Modernization

    SB Profound WC GenericIn this presentation, Alex Roytman and Liam Allan will unveil a completely new and unique way to modernize your legacy applications. Learn how Agile Modernization:
    - Uses the power of Node.js in place of costly system re-writes and migrations
    - Enables you to modernize legacy systems in an iterative, low-risk manner
    - Makes it easier to hire developers for your modernization efforts
    - Integrates with Profound UI (GUI modernization) for a seamless, end-to-end legacy modernization solution

     

  • Data Breaches: Is IBM i Really at Risk?

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIBM i is known for its security, but this OS could be more vulnerable than you think.
    Although Power Servers often live inside the safety of the perimeter firewall, the risk of suffering a data leak or data corruption remains high.
    Watch noted IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses common ways that this supposedly “secure” operating system may actually be vulnerable and who the culprits might be.

    Watch the webinar today!

     

  • Easy Mobile Development

    SB Profound WC GenericWatch this on-demand webinar and learn how to rapidly and easily deploy mobile apps to your organization – even when working with legacy RPG code! IBM Champion Scott Klement will demonstrate how to:
    - Develop RPG applications without mobile development experience
    - Deploy secure applications for any mobile device
    - Build one application for all platforms, including Apple and Android
    - Extend the life and reach of your IBM i (aka iSeries, AS400) platform
    You’ll see examples from customers who have used our products and services to deliver the mobile applications of their dreams, faster and easier than they ever thought possible!

     

  • Profound UI: Unlock True Modernization from your IBM i Enterprise

    SB Profound PPL 5491Modern, web-based applications can make your Enterprise more efficient, connected and engaged. This session will demonstrate how the Profound UI framework is the best and most native way to convert your existing RPG applications and develop new modern applications for your business. Additionally, you will learn how you can address modernization across your Enterprise, including databases and legacy source code, with Profound Logic.

  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    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.

    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).

  • 5 New and Unique Ways to Use the IBM i Audit Journal

    SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericYou must be asking yourself: am I doing everything I can to protect my organization’s data? Tune in as our panel of IBM i high availability experts discuss:


    - Why companies don’t test role swaps when they know they should
    - Whether high availability in the cloud makes sense for IBM i users
    - Why some organizations don’t have high availability yet
    - How to get high availability up and running at your organization
    - High availability considerations for today’s security concerns

  • Profound.js 2.0: Extend the Power of Node to your IBM i Applications

    SB Profound WC 5541In this Webinar, we'll demonstrate how Profound.js 2.0 enables you to easily adopt Node.js in your business, and to take advantage of the many benefits of Node, including access to a much larger pool of developers for IBM i and access to countless reusable open source code packages on npm (Node Package Manager).
    You will see how Profound.js 2.0 allows you to:

    • Provide RPG-like capabilities for server-side JavaScript.
    • Easily create web and mobile application interfaces for Node on IBM i.
    • Let existing RPG programs call Node.js modules directly, and vice versa.
    • Automatically generate code for Node.js.
    • Automatically converts existing RPGLE code into clean, simplified Node.js code.

    Download and watch today!

     

  • Make Modern Apps You'll Love with Profound UI & Profound.js

    SB Profound WC 5541Whether you have green screens or a drab GUI, your outdated apps can benefit from modern source code, modern GUIs, and modern tools.
    Profound Logic's Alex Roytman and Liam Allan are here to show you how Free-format RPG and Node.js make it possible to deliver applications your whole business will love:

    • Transform legacy RPG code to modern free-format RPG and Node.js
    • Deliver truly modern application interfaces with Profound UI
    • Extend your RPG applications to include Web Services and NPM packages with Node.js

     

  • Accelerating Programmer Productivity with Sequel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Most business intelligence tools are just that: tools, a means to an end but not an accelerator. Yours could even be slowing you down. But what if your BI tool didn't just give you a platform for query-writing but also improved programmer productivity?
    Watch the recorded webinar to see how Sequel:

    • Makes creating complex results simple
    • Eliminates barriers to data sources
    • Increases flexibility with data usage and distribution

    Accelerated productivity makes everyone happy, from programmer to business user.

  • Business Intelligence is Changing: Make Your Game Plan

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIt’s time to develop a strategy that will help you meet your informational challenges head-on. Watch the webinar to learn how to set your IT department up for business intelligence success. You’ll learn how the right data access tool will help you:

    • Access IBM i data faster
    • Deliver useful information to executives and business users
    • Empower users with secure data access

    Ready to make your game plan and finally keep up with your data access requests?

     

  • Controlling Insider Threats on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericLet’s face facts: servers don’t hack other servers. Despite the avalanche of regulations, news headlines remain chock full of stories about data breaches, all initiated by insiders or intruders masquerading as insiders.
    User profiles are often duplicated or restored and are rarely reviewed for the appropriateness of their current configuration. This increases the risk of the profile being able to access data without the intended authority or having privileges that should be reserved for administrators.
    Watch security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses a new approach for onboarding new users on IBM i and best-practices techniques for managing and monitoring activities after they sign on.

  • Don't Just Settle for Query/400...

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWhile introducing Sequel Data Access, we’ll address common frustrations with Query/400, discuss major data access, distribution trends, and more advanced query tools. Plus, you’ll learn how a tool like Sequel lightens IT’s load by:

    - Accessing real-time data, so you can make real-time decisions
    - Providing run-time prompts, so users can help themselves
    - Delivering instant results in Microsoft Excel and PDF, without the wait
    - Automating the query process with on-demand data, dashboards, and scheduled jobs

  • How to Manage Documents the Easy Way

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWhat happens when your company depends on an outdated document management strategy?
    Everything is harder.
    You don’t need to stick with status quo anymore.
    Watch the webinar to learn how to put effective document management into practice and:

    • Capture documents faster, instead of wasting everyone’s time
    • Manage documents easily, so you can always find them
    • Distribute documents automatically, and move on to the next task

     

  • Lessons Learned from the AS/400 Breach

    SB_PowerTech_WC_GenericGet actionable info to avoid becoming the next cyberattack victim.
    In “Data breach digest—Scenarios from the field,” Verizon documented an AS/400 security breach. Whether you call it AS/400, iSeries, or IBM i, you now have proof that the system has been breached.
    Watch IBM i security expert Robin Tatam give an insightful discussion of the issues surrounding this specific scenario.
    Robin will also draw on his extensive cybersecurity experience to discuss policies, processes, and configuration details that you can implement to help reduce the risk of your system being the next victim of an attack.

  • Overwhelmed by Operating Systems?

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this 30-minute recorded webinar, our experts demonstrate how you can:

    • Manage multiple platforms from a central location
    • View monitoring results in a single pane of glass on your desktop or mobile device
    • Take advantage of best practice, plug-and-play monitoring templates
    • Create rules to automate daily checks across your entire infrastructure
    • Receive notification if something is wrong or about to go wrong

    This presentation includes a live demo of Network Server Suite.

     

  • Real-Time Disk Monitoring with Robot Monitor

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericYou need to know when IBM i disk space starts to disappear and where it has gone before system performance and productivity start to suffer. Our experts will show you how Robot Monitor can help you pinpoint exactly when your auxiliary storage starts to disappear and why, so you can start taking a proactive approach to disk monitoring and analysis. You’ll also get insight into:

    • The main sources of disk consumption
    • How to monitor temporary storage and QTEMP objects in real time
    • How to monitor objects and libraries in real time and near-real time
    • How to track long-term disk trends

     

     

  • Stop Re-keying Data Between IBM I and Other Applications

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericMany business still depend on RPG for their daily business processes and report generation.Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop re-keying data between IBM i and other applications? Or if you could stop replicating data and start processing orders faster? Or what if you could automatically extract data from existing reports instead of re-keying? It’s all possible. Watch this webinar to learn about:

    • The data dilemma
    • 3 ways to stop re-keying data
    • Data automation in practice

    Plus, see how HelpSystems data automation software will help you stop re-keying data.

     

  • The Top Five RPG Open Access Myths....BUSTED!

    SB_Profound_WC_GenericWhen it comes to IBM Rational Open Access: RPG Edition, there are still many misconceptions - especially where application modernization is concerned!

    In this Webinar, we'll address some of the biggest myths about RPG Open Access, including:

    • Modernizing with RPG OA requires significant changes to the source code
    • The RPG language is outdated and impractical for modernizing applications
    • Modernizing with RPG OA is the equivalent to "screen scraping"

     

  • Time to Remove the Paper from Your Desk and Become More Efficient

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericToo much paper is wasted. Attempts to locate documents in endless filing cabinets.And distributing documents is expensive and takes up far too much time.
    These are just three common reasons why it might be time for your company to implement a paperless document management system.
    Watch the webinar to learn more and discover how easy it can be to:

    • Capture
    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally

     

  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days

     

  • Ask the RDi Experts

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWatch this recording where Jim Buck, Susan Gantner, and Charlie Guarino answered your questions, including:

    • What are the “hidden gems” in RDi that can make me more productive?
    • What makes RDi Debug better than the STRDBG green screen debugger?
    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.

     

  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    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 NodeRun.com 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.

     

     

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • 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.