Be Kind to Your DBCS Data

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Learn how to ensure the validity of extended character string assignment via the CPYECLAP instruction.


IMHO, high-level languages (HLLs) in IBM i do not treat character strings containing double-byte character set (DBCS) characters seriously enough. For example, assigning a long character string containing DBCS characters to a shorter character variable using the EVAL operation code of RPG would probably truncate the DBCS data in the source string and therefore lead to an invalid result character string.


The cause of this problem is quite clear: the EVAL op-code treats a character string containing DBCS characters the same way it treats a single-byte character set (SBCS) character string. However, at the MI level, things are quite different. MI defines four types of extended (double-byte) character types and provides the Copy Extended Characters Left-Adjusted With Pad (CPYECLAP) MI instruction for assignment of extended character strings. This article is intended to show you how to ensure the validity of extended character string assignment via the CPYECLAP instruction.

DBCS Data Types Defined at the MI Level

According to the documentation of the Set Data Pointer Attributes (SETDPAT) and the Copy Extended Characters Left-Adjusted With Pad (CPYECLAP) MI instructions, MI defines four extended (double-byte) character types: OPEN, EITHER, ONLYNS, and ONLYS. Except for ONLYNS, the double-byte character data must be surrounded by a shift out control character (SO = hex 0E) and a shift in control character (SI = hex 0F).

  • An ONLYNS field contains only double-byte data with no SO/SI delimiters surrounding it.
  • An ONLYS field can contain only double-byte character data within the SO/SI pair.
  • An EITHER field can consist of double-byte character or single-byte character data but only one type at a time. If double-byte character data is present, it must be surrounded by the SO/SI pair.
  • An OPEN field can consist of a mixture of double-byte character and single-byte character data. If double-byte character data is present, it must be surrounded by the SO/SI pair.


These extended character types can be described only by data pointers.


The Data Description Specification (DDS) defines similar character types: J (Only), E (Either), O (Open), and G (Graphic). The following table lists the data type name of each extended character type in MI and DDS, and the corresponding scalar type value when being represented by a data pointer.


Extended Character   Types

Scalar Type Value

MI Data Type Name

DDS Data Type Name



G (Graphic)



J (Only)



E (Either)



O (Open)

How Does the CPYECLAP Instruction Work?

The CPYECLAP instruction has three operands:

  • Operand 1: Data-pointer that defines and addresses the receiver-extended character data.
  • Operand 2: Data-pointer that defines and addresses the source-extended character data.
  • Operand 3: Three-byte pad values that consist of a one-byte single byte pad value and a two-byte double byte pad value.


The operation is performed at the length of the receiver operand. If the source operand is shorter than the receiver, the source operand is copied to the leftmost bytes of the receiver, and the excess bytes of the receiver are assigned the appropriate value from the pad operand. If the pad operand is null, the default pad values (hex 40 for single byte, and hex 4040 for double byte) are used.


The valid copy operations that can be specified on this instruction are listed in CPYECLAP's documentation in the Information Center. In brief, you cannot copy an OPEN field to a field of the other three extended character types (ONLYNS, ONLYS, EITHER), and you cannot copy an EITHER field to a field of type ONLYNS or ONLYS. All other copy operations are permitted. An invalid copy operation will raise an Invalid Extended Character Operation (hex 0C13) exception.


When the source value is longer than can be contained in the receiver, truncation is necessary. The following truncation rules apply:

  • Truncation is on the right.
  • When the string to be truncated is a single-byte character string, or an extended character string when the receiver is ONLYNS, bytes beyond those that fit into the receiver are truncated with no further processing needed.
  • When the string to be truncated is an extended character string and the receiver is not ONLYNS, the bytes that fall at the end of the receiver are truncated as follows: When the last byte that would fit in the receiver is the first byte of an extended character, that byte is truncated and replaced with an SI character. When the last byte that would fit in the receiver is the second byte of an extended character, both bytes of that extended character are truncated and replaced with an SI character followed by a single byte pad value. This type of truncation can occur only when converting to an OPEN field.


When the source value is shorter than that which can be contained in the receiver, padding is necessary. One of three types of padding is performed:

  • Double byte (DB): The source value is padded on the right with double-byte pad values out to the length of the receiver.
  • Double byte concatenated with a SI value (DB||SI): The source double-byte value is padded on the right with double-byte pad values out to the second to last byte of the receiver and an SI delimiter is placed in the last byte of the receiver.
  • Single byte (SB): The source value is padded on the right with single-byte pad values out to the length of the receiver.


The type of padding performed is determined by the type of the receiver operand in the copy operation:

  • If the receiver is ONLYNS, DB padding is performed.
  • If the receiver is ONLYS, DB||SI padding is performed.
  • If the receiver is EITHER and the source contains a double-byte value, DB||SI padding is performed.
  • If the receiver is EITHER and the source contains a single-byte value, SB padding is performed.
  • If the receiver is OPEN, SB padding is performed.

Define an Extended Character Field Using a Data Pointer

The CPYECLAP instruction accepts its source, receiver operands in the form of data pointers. A data pointer is one type of MI pointer that contains not only the addressability information of the data it addresses, but also the data type and length attributes of the data it addresses. The lower 8-byte portion of a data pointer is the Single-Level Store (SLS) virtual address of the data, and its higher 8 bytes contain the following data pointer-specific information:


Bits 0-3 of byte 0 0-3 indicate the MI pointer type; for data pointers, it's always hex C.


Bits 4-7 of byte 0 4-7 indicate the data type of the data pointer:

  • 0=Signed binary
  • 1=Floating point
  • 2=Zoned decimal
  • 3=Packed decimal
  • 4=Character
  • 6=ONLYNS
  • 7=ONLYS
  • 8=EITHER
  • 9=OPEN
  • A=Unsigned binary


Bytes 4-5 describe the length attribute. For zoned or packed decimal, byte 4 is the fractional digits, and byte 5 is the total digits of the decimal field. For signed or unsigned binary, bytes 4-5 can be set to value 2, 4, or 8 indicating 2-byte, 4-byte, or 8-byte binary data. For floating-point, bytes 4-5 can be set to 4 or 8 (4-byte, 8-byte floating-pointer data). For ONLYS, EITHER, or OPEN extended character data, bytes 4-5 are the number of bytes of the data. For ONLYNS, extended character data, bytes 4-5 are the number of characters of the data. DDS applies the same rule for G (Graphic) type fields.


In an OPM MI program, the Set Data Pointer (SETDP) and Set Data Pointer Addressability (SETDPADR) MI instructions can be used to set the addressability of a data pointer, and the SETDPAT MI instruction can be used to set or change the data attributes of a data pointer. In an ILE program, these two tasks can be achieved via a single invocation of the _SETDP system built-in, which accepts an address operand and a data attributes operand and returns the result data pointer. The following prototype of _SETDP is extracted from mih-dtaptr.rpgleinc.



     * @BIF _SETDP (Set Data Pointer   (SETDP))


     * @remark In a sense, the _SETDP system   built-in combines the

     * functionality of the SETDP and   SETDPAT instructions in the OPM

     * MI instructions set. It assigns both   the scalar type and

     * length attributes and the addressability   to the returned data

     * pointer.


     d setdp           pr             *   extproc('_SETDP')

     d       addr                         *   value

     d       attr                       7a     value



     * Data pointer attributes


     d dpat_t         ds                 qualified

     * Scalar type

     d     type                         1a

     * Length

     d     len                          5u 0

     d     dec_pos                     1a     overlay(len)

     d     digits                       1a     overlay(len:2)

     * Reserved (binary 0)

     d                               4a



     * Scalar types



     d                 c                   x'00'


     d                 c                   x'01'


     d                 c                   x'02'


     d                 c                   x'03'


     d                 c                   x'04'

     d DPAT_ONLYNS...

     d                 c                   x'06'

     d DPAT_ONLYS...

     d                 c                   x'07'

     d DPAT_EITHER...

     d                 c                   x'08'

     d DPAT_OPEN...

     d                 c                   x'09'


     d                 c                   x'0A'


The following RPG example (t183.rpgle) sets up a data pointer that defines an 8-byte OPEN field.


     h dftactgrp(*no)

     /copy mih-dtaptr

     d ptr_val         ds

     d @opn                            *

     d opn             s             8a

     d dpat           ds                 likeds(dpat_t)



           dpat = *allx'00';

           dpat.type = DPAT_OPEN;

           dpat.len = 8;

           @opn = setdp( %addr(opn) : dpat);

             // Check @opn: EVAL ptr_val:x

             // e.g. C9000000   00080000 F2D78E95   AE05AF38


           *inlr = *on;


A Real Example of Copying Extended Character Data via the CPYECLAP Instruction

The following example RPG program (cpyeclap01.rpgle) demonstrates a couple of extended character data copy operations:

  • Copy an OPEN field to a shorter OPEN field for test of truncation.
  • Copy an EITHER field to a longer EITHER field for test of padding.



     h dftactgrp(*no)


     /copy mih-comp

     /copy mih-dtaptr


     * OPEN fields

     * long_o contains 4 DBCS characters: '????'

     d long_o         s             10a   inz(x'0E42C842C942C742C80F')

     d short_o         s             6a

     d @long_o         s               *

     d @short_o       s                *

     * EITHER fields

     d long_e         s             8a

     d short_e         s             4a     inz('abcd')

     d @long_e         s               *

     d @short_e       s               *


     d dpat           ds                 likeds(dpat_t)

     d pad             ds                 likeds(cpyeclap_pad_t)



           // Set up data pointers

           dpat = *allx'00';

           dpat.type = DPAT_OPEN;

           dpat.len = 10;

           @long_o   = setdp( %addr(long_o) : dpat);

           dpat.len = 6;

           @short_o = setdp( %addr(short_o) : dpat);


           // [1] Test for truncation

           cpyeclap( @short_o : @long_o : pad   );

             // Result:


           // Test for padding

           dpat.type = DPAT_EITHER;

           dpat.len = 10;

           @long_e   = setdp( %addr(long_e) : dpat);

           dpat.len = 4;

           @short_e = setdp( %addr(short_e) : dpat);

           pad.single_byte_pad_value = '-';

           // [2.1] SB padding should be   performed

           cpyeclap( @long_e : @short_e : pad   );

             // Result:


           // [2.2] DB||SI padding should be   performed

           short_e   = x'0E42C50F';     // DBCS character: '?'

           pad.double_byte_pad_value = x'42C7';   // Set DB pad character to ' ?'

           cpyeclap( @long_e : @short_e : pad   );

             // Result:


           *inlr = *on;



The results of our test for truncation and padding are the following:



Figure 1: Test for truncation.



Figure 2: Test for padding.


Yeah, we did it!


Junlei Li

Junlei Li is a programmer from Tianjin, China, with 10 years of experience in software design and programming. Junlei Li began programming under i5/OS (formerly known as AS/400, iSeries) in late 2005. He is familiar with most programming languages available on i5/OS—from special-purpose languages such as OPM/ILE RPG to CL to general-purpose languages such as C, C++, Java; from strong-typed languages to script languages such as QShell and REXX. One of his favorite programming languages on i5/OS is machine interface (MI) instructions, through which one can discover some of the internal behaviors of i5/OS and some of the highlights of i5/OS in terms of operating system design.


Junlei Li's Web site is, where his open-source project i5/OS Programmer's Toolkit ( is documented.



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    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.


  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption



  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access




  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.


  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.



  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.



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

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.