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ILE Tutorial: How to Use Embedded Sub-Procedures Within a Program

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Say goodbye to old RPG subroutines, and get to know ILE RPG's powerful sub-procedures

Editor's Note: This article is excerpted from chapter 7 of 21st Century RPG: /Free, ILE, and MVC, by David Shirey.

The idea behind a sub-procedure is simple: take some code lines that are doing a particular task, take them out of the mainline code, and put them in a little spot of their own. Very similar to subroutines. But there are some major differences.

First, sub-procedures can only be done in an ILE program. They cannot be done in OPM.

Second, sub-procedures are not delineated by the BEGSR/ENDSR tags, but by B and E (beginning and end) P-specs. More on P-specs in a minute or so (depending on how fast you read).

Third, and this is a big one, sub-procedures allow you to define local variables in between the B and E P-specs.

You do this using D-specs that are listed after the B P-spec. This way, you can define any variable you want and use it in the sub-procedure. But only in the sub-procedure. Local variables cannot be used in any other part of the program. They are strictly for the sub-procedure. In fact, you could even give them the names of global variables that are used other places in the program or repeat the names of local variables from other sub-procedures. I don’t recommend either of those options, but it's doable.

I can't tell you how important I think local variables are and how dangerous global variables are to good program structure.

Fourth, while subroutines are accessed by using the EXSR operator, sub-procedures are "called" by doing a prototype call (CALLP). Even within a given program.

You might think there is more work involved in doing a call rather than just an EXSR, but the truth is - well, actually, I guess the truth is it is a bit more work. But only a bit. And it's well worth it to have the other advantages.

And fifth, while subroutine code must exist in the program that is using it, a sub-procedure can actually be set up in a separate program (a service program) that is truly called into the calling program using the CALLP prototype call. Service programs are an incredibly useful entity, and we will talk more about them in a couple of chapters.

Sub-Procedure Inside a Program Example

Let's start our ILE adventures by looking at a program that calls an embedded sub-procedure (that is, the sub-procedure is part of the program that uses it). The sub-procedure itself is very simple; it just validates a product number against a product master (MSPMP100). We will look at the whole mess, then break it down into its components for easy digestion. Give it a name to your own liking.

H********************************************************

H DFTACTGRP(*NO) ACTGRP(*NEW)

H********************************************************

F* PRODUCT MASTER

FMSPMP100 IF   E           K DISK   PREFIX(PM_)

F*

F* Display File

FDWS0170FM CF   E             WORKSTN PREFIX(D01_)

F********************************************************

D VAL_PRDNO     PR

D   D01_PRDNO                 15

D   MSG                       60

D   ERROR_FLAG                 1

D*

D ERROR_FLAG     S             1

D MSG           S             60

D********************************************************

/FREE

  

     ERROR_FLAG = 'N';

 

     CALLP VAL_PRDNO(D01_PRDNO:MSG:ERROR_FLAG);

 

     *INLR = '1';  

 

/END-FREE

    

P********************************************************

P // SUBPROCEDURE - VALIDATE PRODUCT# FROM PRODUCT MSTR

P VAL_PRDNO     B

D********************************************************

D VAL_PRDNO      PI

D   D01_PRDNO                 15

D   MSG                       60

D   ERROR_FLAG                 1

D*

D SP_PRDNO       S             15

D********************************************************

/FREE

//READ PRODUCT MASTER USING PRODUCT NUMBER FROM SCREEN

//AS KEY.

   EVAL SP_PRDNO = D01_PRDNO;

   CHAIN (SP_PRDNO) MSPMP100;

   IF NOT %FOUND;

       ERROR_FLAG = 'Y';

       MSG = 'THIS IS A BAD PRODUCT NUMBER

                                 (XXX00111.01).';

   ENDIF;

/END-FREE

P VAL_PRDNO     E

P*******************************************************

Now let's take that program apart and see what makes it tick. You should be able to detect hints of apricot and chocolate and ... but there I go again. Each person tastes something different, and I shouldn't try to plant suggestions.

Because I am doing this as if you are on 5.4 rather than 7.x, some things are present that may not be if you are on a more recent release of the software. Like having the F-, D-, and other specs be positional, and then having to use /Free and /End-Free to segregate the /Free from the positional code. Or the need for the H-spec to ensure this is compiled as ILE (more on that later). Sorry about that, but many of us are still back in that old era. It should not stop you from doing ILE.

Oh, and by the way, I am listing the code first, and then under it putting the discussion of that code. I would have been confused about that myself. As you go thru this section, DON'T focus on the text description. Focus on the code, devour it with your eyes, think about what you see, experience its richness and vibrancy. The text description is just to give it context, to help clarify what you are seeing. But focus on the code itself.

H********************************************************

H DFTACTGRP(*NO) ACTGRP(*NEW)

H********************************************************

First, the H-spec. This is put in there because sub-procedures are an ILE construct. So they cannot be in a program that uses the default activation group (that is OPM). The H-spec makes sure that the program is compiled as ILE, but if the defaults in your compile command are set for that, then you would not need this H-spec. I am assuming you will compile this with CRTBNDRPG instead of CRTRPGMOD/CRTPGM.

F*

F* PRODUCT MASTER

FMSPMP100 IF   E         K DISK   PREFIX(PM_)

F*

F* Display File

FDWS0170FM CF   E           WORKSTN PREFIX(D01_)

F*******************************************************

This is then followed by the F-specs for this program.

Note that I am using a product master file plus a display file, and I am going to be pretending that I am picking up data entry fields from the display and editing them against the product master file for validity.

Remember, if you are on 7.1, TR7 or higher, we could set these up as file control statements. But since I am doing this book from a 5.4 perspective, we will set them up as F-specs.

D*

D VAL_PRDNO       PR

D   D01_PRDNO                 15

D  MSG                       60

D   ERROR_FLAG                 1

D

D ERROR_FLAG     S             1

D MSG             S           60

D********************************************************

Then come the D-specs. The global D-specs. We are still in our mainline program here; we haven't gotten to the sub-procedure yet. Just be patient, and quiet ... very, very quiet. We don't want to spook it.

There are two things here in the D-specs. The first is the prototype D-spec, the thing identified with the PR as the D-spec data type. This is required in the program D-specs, and it identifies what sub-procedures will be used (by the CALLP) in that program. The D-spec subfields under it for D01_PRDNO, MSG, and ERROR_FLAG are the data elements that are passed in when the sub-procedure is "called." Please note that there is no EXTPGM keyword on the PR, because we are not calling an external program, just a sub-procedure in this program.

If you had more than one sub-procedure embedded in this program, then you would need a PR prototype D-spec for each one of those sub-procedures.

Below that are two more D-specs: ERROR_FLAG and MSG.

ERROR_FLAG is a global data element, and it is used in the sub-procedure but also in the program calling the sub-procedure. Our little snippet does not show the ERROR_FLAG being used, but if there were more calls to other sub-procedures, they would be contained within an IF statement checking to see whether or not the ERROR_FLAG were set.

MSG is also a global variable, just a message field that we will set if there is an error.

What is interesting is that both of these fields are defined under the PR D-spec. So why are we defining them here again? Have I screwed up, defined them twice, and so the compile will fail? Normally, that would be a very good guess indeed, but not tonight. They are there because even though I have "defined" them in the PR above, anything listed in a PR is not really defined. It has to exist somewhere else, and so I have defined the field in a second, normal D-spec. Why aren't things in a PR really defined to the system as fields? You might as well ask why the earth is an oblate spheroid. Because. Just because that's the way it is. Deal with it.

/FREE

 

     ERROR_FLAG = 'N';

 

     CALLP VAL_PRDNO(D01_PRDNO:MSG:ERROR_FLAG);

 

     *INLR = '1';

 

/END-FREE

This is the /Free code that calls the sub-procedure.

And it's very simple. I set the ERROR_FLAG (a global variable) to 'N', then call the sub-procedure, and then end the program. If this were a real program, we would probably have more calls to other sub-procedures, each covered by an IF ERROR_FLAG clause, to edit each of the fields on the display file. Oh, I guess I did use the ERROR_FLAG, after all, to initialize it.

Note that the call to the sub-procedure VAL_PRDNO is actually a call, using CALLP (Call Prototype).

And notice that the three data fields mentioned (can't really say defined) in the VAL_PRDNO PR are sent to the sub-procedure as parms separated by a colon and surrounded by parentheses.

Just as an interesting side note, if there were no parms being sent to the sub-procedure, then nothing would be listed under the PR line in the D-specs (although we would still need the PR itself), and nothing would be included in the parenthesis on the CALLP. However, the parenthesis would still be included; they would just be empty - ().

Finally, the /end-Free delimiter needs to be set because when we define the sub-procedure (next step), we will use P-specs and D-specs, which are positional RPG, not /Free. Granted, in 7.1 TR7, we can make them /Free, but that is not the version of the operating system that this book is based on.

P**********************************************************  

// SUBPROCEDURE - VALIDATE PRODUCT # FROM PRODUCT MSTR.

P VAL_PRDNO       B

D**********************************************************

D VAL_PRDNO     PI

D   D01_PRDNO                 15

D   MSG                       60

D   ERROR_FLAG                 1

D*

D SP_PRDNO       S             15

D**********************************************************

The sub-procedure itself really starts with the P-spec that has a B in position 24. The two lines above that are just icing that I put in to make it easier to see. Note that even though I have come out of /Free (last statement on previous page), I can still use the double slash for comments. Pretty cool, eh?

Then we have D-specs for the sub-procedure. If you are on a release 6.1 or above, you can also include F-specs in here, so instead of defining the files at the global level, you can define them in the sub-procedure. (This is separate from the stuff in 7.1 TR7.) But we are at 5.4, so that option is not open to us.

Note that we have another D-spec that defines the prototype, but this one is a PI, which is called the procedure interface. So, we have a PR in the program and a PI in the sub-procedure. Let's replay that one more time. The PR is the prototype D-spec; the PI is the procedure interface D-spec. Try to remember that.

Then, we have one more D-spec for SP_PRDNO. Technically, this field is not necessary for the functioning of this module. I could have just as easily used the global variable D01_PRDNO from the display file, but I was so excited about local variables that I just had to define one. If you tried to use this local variable (SP_PRDNO) in the mainline code above, you would get a compile error saying the data element was undefined. But you can use it in the sub-procedure code below.

Please note that the PR and PI specs are D-specs. D-specs. The P-specs are just used to denote the start and finish of the sub-procedure as a whole.

/FREE

   //READ PRODUCT MASTER USING PRODUCT # FROM SCREEN.

       EVAL SP_PRDNO = D01_PRDNO;

       CHAIN(E) (SP_PRDNO) MSPMP100;

       IF NOT %FOUND;

           ERROR_FLAG = 'Y';

           MSG = 'THIS IS A BAD PRODUCT NUMBER +

                                 (XXX00111.01).';

       ENDIF;

/END-FREE

P VAL_PRDNO       E

P*********************************************************

Finally, we are into the code for the sub-procedure. As you can see, we are going back to /Free here, and the code is very simple. Like subroutines, all the sub-procedures will be listed after the *INLR = '1' in the mainline logic.

Even though I don't need it, I set the local variable equal to the value from the display file and used that to read the product master file. I could have just as easily used D01_PRDNO, which is a global variable, in the statement. There is no advantage to using the local variable here; I just wanted to showcase it. There are, however, advantages in general to using local variables.

If it doesn’t get a hit, I set the ERROR_FLAG to 'Y' and throw message verbiage into the MSG field. Both of these values (the parms) are returned and can be used in the mainline code. The only thing that can’t be used in the mainline is the local variable SP_PRDNO.

Finally, the very last line in the whole mess is another P-spec, this one with a E (for End). If there were other sub-procedures in the program, they would be listed below just as we list subroutines below each other at the very end of the program.

David Shirey

David Shirey is president of Shirey Consulting Services, providing technical and business consulting services for the IBM i world. Among the services provided are IBM i technical support, including application design and programming services, ERP installation and support, and EDI setup and maintenance. With experience in a wide range of industries (food and beverage to electronics to hard manufacturing to drugs--the legal kind--to medical devices to fulfillment houses) and a wide range of business sizes served (from very large, like Fresh Express, to much smaller, like Labconco), SCS has the knowledge and experience to assist with your technical or business issues. You may contact Dave by email at dave@shireyllc.com or by phone at (616) 304-2466.


MC Press books written by David Shirey available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

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    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.

     

     

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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.