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RPG and HTML: Another Winning Team

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Using RPG to create HTML documents is a great way to replace or enhance your existing displays, reports, and menus. After you have created an HTML document, you can view it, print it, or, in some cases, even fax it. The service program provided here makes this job even easier because you can code most of the basic HTML tags by using calls to RPG subprocedures.

 

By now, programming in RPG is probably second nature to you. For those of us who provide displays and reports, RPG is as often as not the tool of choice. But as usual, the minute you become comfortable with one part of your life, a new challenge presents itself. E-commerce has taken the world by storm, and if it hasn’t affected you yet, chances are it will soon.

 

The systems and information contained on AS/400s are valuable to the businesses we work for. Our job as IT specialists is to provide this information to the user in the most convenient way possible. These days, providing information doesn’t mean just the tried- and-true displays and reports, but also entails using the World Wide Web, particularly Web browsers. Browsers provide information in a more accessible and standard format. The format I am referring to is HTML.

 

 

RPG and HTML as a Solution

 

 

Recently, I ran into a situation at work in which the sales and marketing department wanted easy access to product prices. My first thought was to install a 5250 emulator on their machine, give them a sign-on to the AS/400, and create a screen to meet their needs. What I didn’t know, but soon found out, was that almost everyone in the sales and marketing department used a Macintosh. Also, they were unfamiliar with navigating around on the AS/400. That’s when something I had been experimenting with seemed like an obvious solution. I decided to use the AS/400 as a Web server to allow them to access this information via their browser. This solution made sense for two reasons: They all had a Web browser installed on their machines, and they were already comfortable navigating with a Web browser. Everyone joyously embraced the idea, and soon requests for similar forms were rolling in.

 

My last article on writing CGI programs with RPG (see “RPG and CGI: Code Word—Dynamic!” MC, April 1999) explained the basics of producing dynamic output to a

 

browser and included service programs that allow you to write information to a browser and read information that the user would input from an HTML form. The techniques I describe in this article make that job even easier. Using a browser is second nature to most of us, but creating the pages we view in a browser may be a foreign concept. Just think of HTML as yet another language we must learn well enough to satisfy our users and customers.

 

 

Learning by Example

 

 

If learning HTML seems daunting, simply think back to the first time you created an externally described display or printer file using DDS. At first, this process was unfamiliar, but soon it became second nature. These days, most of us use IBM’s Screen Design Aid (SDA) to produce displays, or use Gumbo’s Report Design Aid (RDA) or IBM’s Report Layout Utility (RLU) to create reports. Even with tools like these, we still know how to go in and tweak the DDS if what the tool produced does not come out exactly as we planned. Learning HTML is the same way.

 

If you were to say you couldn’t learn HTML because of the lack of examples, I would say you probably have never seen a Web page in your life. The way I became familiar with HTML was to use one of the infinite examples that exists right under our noses. Every page on the Web contains HTML source code, and that’s how I learned HTML. When I would come across a page that included something I wanted to use or that intrigued me, I used my browser’s View Source option. If I couldn’t find an example on the Web, I would use a WYSIWYG Web development tool. I would “draw” out what I wanted and then look at the source that was created behind the scenes. This approach was easier because I didn’t have to search through the entire source of a Web page to find the small portion of HTML that interested me—only the source for the technique I needed was there at my fingertips.

 

After you achieve a basic understanding of HTML, you can start creating Web pages. RPG IV provides some much-needed string operations and built-in functions (BIFs) that come in handy when building HTML code. After writing HTML forms with RPG, you may find you use a lot of the code over and over. The code becomes cluttered and hard to follow. After I discovered this fact, I put together a set of service programs to make the code reusable, more readable, and also to reduce the amount of “literal text” in my programs.

 

Figure 1 shows the HTML code needed to display the text “Click Here!!!” and also make this text a hyperlink to my homepage with the URL www.mypage.com. Although this code by itself doesn’t seem messy, imagine coding five or more links on your page. You will soon see that in most cases the only code that changes is the link text and the hyperlink text.

 

Because of this fact, I created a subprocedure that allows me to code this hyperlink while providing only the link and the hyperlink text. Figure 2 shows the RPG statements you need to write the hyperlink using the method from Figure 1. Figure 3 shows the RPG statements you need to write the hyperlink by using the #Link subprocedure. Both statements provide the intended output, but only the second one ensures no HTML tag coding errors will exist. (I discussed the #WrStout subprocedure used in these examples in “RPG and CGI: Code Word—Dynamic!” The source can be found at Midrange Computing’s Web site at www.midrangecomputing.com/mc/99/04.)

 

 

The #Link Subprocedure Explained

 

 

If you are familiar with HTML, you may have already figured how the #Link subprocedure works. The #Link subprocedure is a function that concatenates the required HTML tags around the data passed to it and returns the formatted HTML code. The first parameter needed is the Web address that we want the text to link to. The second parameter is the text you want displayed as the actual hyperlink on the Web page. When users click on the text, they are directed to the specified Web address.

 

Figure 4 shows the RPG code for the #Link subprocedure. As you can see, it is very simple. The #Link subprocedure takes the Web address and the link text and concatenates them together with the necessary HTML tags. The subprocedure then returns the string as a complete line of HTML code that, when returned, is ready to be written to a HTML document.

 

 

Simple yet Effective

 

 

The #Link subprocedure was the first of many subprocedures I created and eventually placed in a service program. Although these may seem almost too simple to even consider worthwhile, you will soon find that creating a subprocedure to perform these small tasks will ensure that the HTML code is syntactically correct. In addition to speeding up the development time of your programs, the actual HTML code resides in only one subprocedure. There is no chance that you will mistype the HTML code. Also, if you ever need to make changes, it requires change in only one source member. Taking this a step further, creating service programs also means, in most cases, you only need to recompile the module and re-create the service program. If you haven’t yet started taking advantage of subprocedures and service programs, here is a simple and effective application that allows you to start using these features to your advantage.

 

The #Link subprocedure and many others are included in the F.HTTPTAG service program. (The source and compile instructions are available at Midrange Computing’s Web site at www.midrangecomputing. com/mc/99/05.) The other subprocedures included in
F.HTTPTAG range from making text bold or italic to outputting an input capable field or submit-type button. Figure 5 shows a detailed description of the subprocedures included in
F.HTTPTAG. I encourage you to install the code and try them out for yourself.

 

 

Report Output with HTML: The First Step Toward a “Paperless” Office

 

 

The subprocedures I explain in this article do not require the service program from last month’s issue on CGI programming. You can use these subprocedures as a standalone service program to create HTML output documents that can be stored on the AS/400 Integrated File System (IFS), displayed with a browser, printed, or, in some cases, even faxed.

 

Just imagine being able to create reports that don’t have to be printed and, when viewed, are actually pleasing to the eye. On some reports, a user may want to check just one or two values. After that, the report ends up in the recycle bin or the paper shredder. If you create HTML output for your reports, the user can view them before printing them. If users then feel they need to print the report, they simply use their browser’s Print option.

 

You have two options when creating HTML output. You can dynamically create the HTML directly to the user’s browser (see “RPG and CGI: Code Word—Dynamic!”), or you can output the HTML code to a file and transfer this file to the IFS.

 

Another benefit of creating your reports with HTML is that formatting is a snap. Inserting data into tables aligns data almost automatically. Inserting graphics, special characters, or using special fonts no longer requires you to spend hours formatting printer files with the Box, Line, and Font Character Set (FNTCHRSET) DDS commands. As an example, in Figure 6 I have created a simple invoice by using HTML. The HTML code for this page is in Figure 7. Creating eye-pleasing reports using HTML is much easier than you think. You’ll soon recognize that using tables in HTML documents can help you present the output in a structured format.

 

Most reports have the same basic structure. They include a heading line, multiple detail lines, and in some cases, total lines. Creating output in an HTML format is no different than creating output by using a subfile or output specs. As soon as the code exists for a detail line, the code exists for all detail lines. It’s a simple matter of reading through the file and replacing the data in each line with the data read in from the file.

 

 

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

 

 

Here is a chance to really impress your users, peers, and management. I am certain that as soon as you show people what you can do and how it will save time and money, they will be knocking down the door for you to provide more of this great stuff! The world has become infatuated with the Web. Ordinary people who would never have used a computer for anything more than bookkeeping or games are now surfing the Web. Just think how they will react when you show them that they can employ the same tools they use for their leisure time for work. Instead of training users on using the latest 5250 emulator, you can spend more time developing displays, reports, and even menu systems by using a Web browser and your faithful old pal RPG.

 

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

 

http://www.mypage.com
>Click Here!!!

 

Figure 1: This is the HTML code required to create a hyperlink to my homepage.

 

C eval Out = 'http://www.mypage.com">' +

 

C '"Click Here!!!"'

 

*

 

C CALLP #WrStout(Out)

 

Figure 2: RPG code can create a hyperlink by using straight HTML text.

 

C eval Out = #Link('http://www.mypage.com' :

 

C 'Click Here!!!')

 

*

 

C CALLP #WrStout(Out)

 

Figure 3: RPG code can create a hyperlink with the #Link subprocedure.

 

*//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////*

 

* (#Link) Create hyperlink *

 

*//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////*

 

P #Link B EXPORT

 

*--------------------------------------------------------------*

 

D #Link PI

 

D Link 256 VALUE

 

D Text 256 VALUE

 

*

 

*--------------------------------------------------------------*

 

C return '' +

 

C %trim(Text) +

 

C ''

 

*--------------------------------------------------------------*

 

P #Link E

 

Figure 4: Here’s the source for the #Link subprocedure.

 

Subprocedure Description Input Parameters Output

 

(parameters in italics are optional)

 

#Link() Create hyperlink URL, Display Text Display Text #MailTo() Create Mail-to hyperlink Email Address, User Name User Name #Bold() Bold text Text Text
#Italics() Italics text Text Text
#Center() Center text Text

Text


#H1(), #H2() Heading 1 or Heading 2 text Text

Text

or

Text


#Title() Title text Text Text
#Input() Input field/button Type,
Name, Size, Value, OnClick

 

 

 

 

Value=Value OnClick=OnClick>

 

Figure 5: Check out the explanation of subprocedures included in the F.HTTPTAG service program.

 

 

 

Figure 6: I generated this invoice with HTML.

 

 

 

a
sample

 

Invoice: 100698

 

 








To: Kerpluck Enterprises
110 Main Street
West Undershirt, MN 56565
Ship To: *** SAME ***

 

 



 

 








Quantity Item Description Price Total

 

 


5
TSHRT01
Company Logo T-Shirt
10.00
50.00

 


15
HAT01
Company Logo BB Hat
8.00
120.00

 




 

RPG_and_HTML-_Another_Winning_Team05-00.png 297x191

 

 

 

 

Invoice Total: $170.00

 

 

Figure 7: This is the HTML source code for Figure 6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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    • 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.

     

     

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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.