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Practical SQL: UDFs and Service Programs, Part I

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In this installment of our continuing series on using SQL in real business applications, we introduce the concept of invoking service programs from within SQL.

 

We continue to provide you with examples of integrating SQL with traditional RPG. In this article, we're going to focus on how we can use a service program to extend SQL and provide an essential feature that SQL is sorely lacking: converting binary data in a character field to numeric values. Note that this is the opposite of something like the HEX function, which returns the hexadecimal representation of a field. This function will take some alphanumeric data, either in packed or binary form, and return the numeric value the data represents. This practical extension to SQL can be used by any shop.

What We're Going to Accomplish

We're going to create a user-defined function (UDF) that can take an alphanumeric field containing numeric data and extract the numeric value. UDFs are very powerful because they allow you to execute arbitrary logic within an SQL SELECT statement (or really anyplace in SQL that an expression can be used), essentially allowing you to extend the SQL syntax. If you're unfamiliar with stored procedures and UDFs and you'd like to know more about how they are implemented and used in the IBM i environment, you can refer to my previous articles on the subject. Click on the links to review Part I and Part II.

 

Why would we need to do this? There are several situations in which you might find binary numeric data embedded within an alphanumeric field, most of them dealing with legacy data. For example, you may have an old multi-format physical file (please, no shrieks of terror; plenty of shops out there still have this case, and you know who you are!). This is one way that we can get SQL to play nicely with those files. Well, not always nicely; we found that, as of V6.1, SQL on the IBM i really doesn't play well with those files anymore. In some cases, you need a really big hammer, such as a Materialized Query Table (MQT); I'll try to write about that another day.

 

But there is a case in which it's actually very common to have numeric data within an alphanumeric field: that would be the JOESD field of the file created in the OUTFILE keyword of the DSPJRN command. Without going through a lot of detail, if you do a DSPJRN to an output file and take a look at the results, one of the fields is the JOESD field. JOESD contains an image of the record in entries for both puts (writes) and the before- and after-image entries for an update.  For example, suppose I have this file:

 

ORDERS

Field Name Type       Length   Bytes  Position

---------- ---------- ------   -----  --------

ORDERNO    BINARY       9  0       4         1

CUSTOMER   PACKED       6  0       6         5

SHIPTO     BINARY       9  0       4        11

ADDRESS1   CHAR           50      50        15

 

Now I add a record: order = 314478, customer = 70021, ship-to = 3, and address = 1234 MAIN ST. Looking at the record with DSPPFM, I see this:

 

*...+....1....+....2....+...

­­  ö>­ ø      ­­­­­­1234 MAIN ST   

00C607010000FFFF4DCCD4EE4444

04CE002F00031234041950230000

 

As you can see, a lot of junk there. If I had journaled the file and done a DSPJRN to an output file, the write would have been recorded in the journal as a PUT: the field JOENTT would have the value PT, the JOOBJ field would have the file name, and the JOESD field would look just like what you see in DSPPFM.

 

Now, let's say I wanted to create a query that showed all the add entries for records with order numbers between 314000 and 315000. I could probably do it with some judicious use of the HEX function and a decent hexadecimal calculator, but it wouldn't be very readable:

 

select * from JRNOUT where JOENTT = 'PT'                       

  and hex(substr(JOESD,1,4)) between '0004CA90' and '004CE78'

 

And if I were doing queries performing calculations of any type on numeric values, it would be impossible. But could we design a simple UDF that would make such a query possible?  Perhaps something like this:

 

select * from JRNOUT where JOENTT = 'PT'                       

  and HEX2NUM(substr(JOESD,1,4),2) between 314000 and 315000

 

Well now, that is something we can do!

The RPG Side

You'll note that the HEX2NUM function has two parameters: the substring of the alphanumeric field that we're trying to convert and then the literal 2. That's because you have to tell the function whether you're converting packed or binary data. Other than that, the function is pretty smart; it determines the length of the incoming variable and uses that to convert the data properly. Let's see how that's done:

 

     h option( *nodebugio: *srcstmt) nomain

     d UDFHEX2NUM      pr            31p 0

     d   input                       16a   varying const

     d   convtype                    10u 0 const

     p UDFHEX2NUM      b                   export

     d                 pi            31p 0

     d   input                       16a   varying const

     d   convtype                    10u 0 const

     d C_PACKED        c                   1

     d C_INTEGER       c                   2

     d C_BADVALUE      c                   -1

     d dsPacked        ds            16

     d  Packed                       31p 0

     d dsInteger       ds             8

     d  Integer                      20i 0

     d Result          s             31p 0

     d xLen            s              3u 0

      /free

       // Default to error, get the length from the input

       result = C_BADVALUE;

       xLen = %len(input);

       monitor;

         if convtype = C_PACKED;

           // Any length > 0 is valid for packed data

           if xLen > 0;

             // Start with 0, stuff the data at the end

             Packed = 0;

             %subst ( dsPacked: 17-xLen) = input;

             result = Packed;

           endif;

         else;

           // Integer data must have a valid integer length

           if xLen = 8 or xLen = 4 or xLen = 2 or xLen = 1;

             // Start with 0, stuff the data at the end

             Integer = 0;

             %subst( dsInteger: 9-xLen) = input;

             result = Integer;

           endif;

         endif;

       on-error;

       endmon;

       return result;

      /end-free

     p                 e

The logic is really pretty simple; I won't spend a ton of time on it. Since I'm creating a service program, I use NOMAIN in the H-spec, although there is still some debate as to when and why one uses NOMAIN. I'm going to create a very simple service program with only one function. The module has the name of the function, and the service program has the same name as the module; it's all very trivial in nature and doesn't take advantage of the power of ILE. We'll delve a lot deeper into service programs and procedures in the second article in this series. Here, I just want to focus on the mechanics of attaching the SQL query to a service program procedure.

 

Back to the RPG program. After the H-spec, I define the function, which in this case is named UDFHEX2NUM. I define both the prototype and the procedure interface with exactly the same signature (the parameters and return value); that's required in RPG. You define the return value first. In this case, I defined the return value as 31p0, which is the largest packed value that you can fit into a 16-character field. It will also hold the largest binary integer field, a field of 8 bytes or 20 digits. I could have made it larger, I suppose, but I rarely run into cases where I need more than 30 digits of precision. That brings me to an important point: you may have wondered about the fact that I defined this value with no decimal positions. That's because decimal positions are implied in binary data; there's no way to tell from the data what the scale is (the scale specifies where the decimal point is meant to be). So for this case, I'm just returning the raw, unscaled value; it would be up to the query to adjust the decimals accordingly.

 

The parameters are easy to explain: one variable alphanumeric field with a length of up to 16 characters (this will hold the largest possible binary value and a packed value up to 31 digits) and one 10u0 unsigned integer field. This will contain the literal conversion type, 1 for packed and 2 for binary. It's an awfully big field for just two possible values, but, as it happens, when you specify a numeric literal on an SQL statement, the size defaults to an SQL field of type INT, which in turn is the same as an RPG field of 10u0. So that's why I defined the value as 10u0. You may note that I used 10u0; that's because I don't ever expect negative values.

 

This defines the procedure's signature. The rest is the code, which is pretty straightforward. I define a couple of constants for the literal values 1 and 2 (2 for packed, 2 for integer). I define the bad value, which is returned for error conditions. ("But what," you ask, "do we do if we really need to convert a value of -1?" Good question, and one that will be addressed in the follow-up article.)  I define a couple of data structures to do the actual conversion work. The data structure is the alphanumeric component (data structures are by definition treated as alpha fields), while the packed or integer data is defined in a subfield. The program will move the input data into the appropriate data structure and then use the numeric subfield to extract the numeric data. After the data structures are a couple of work fields, and then we're on to the program logic itself.

 

The procedure is very simple. It defaults the result to the bad value and gets the length of the input into a work variable. Then, it decides whether this is a packed or binary conversion. If packed, it checks for a positive length. Having a positive length, it initializes the packed field to zero and then inserts the alphanumeric data at the end of the data structure. It then extracts the data from the packed field and places it in the result field. The logic for the integer conversion is almost exactly the same, except the length must be a valid integer length and it uses the integer data structure rather than the packed data structure. You'll note that all of the conversion code is wrapped in a monitor block; if any unexpected error occurs, the default bad value is returned. And that's it for the RPG code.

 

Because I'm using a very trivial case, creating the service program is very simple. It requires two commands:

 

CRTRPGMOD MODULE(MYLIB/UDFHEX2NUM) SRCFILE(MYLIB/MYSRC) SRCMBR(UDFHEX2NUM)

CRTSRVPGM SRVPGM(MYLIB/UDFHEX2NUM) EXPORT(*ALL)

The SQL Side

What we've done at this point is create the service program named UDFHEX2NUM. This service program has a single procedure also named UDFHEX2NUM. Now let's create the UDF. That's done via a single SQL statement:

 

create function HEX2NUM (varchar(16), int)

  returns decimal(31,0)                                  

language rpgle deterministic no sql                      

external name 'MYLIB/UDFHEX2NUM(UDFHEX2NUM)'               

parameter style general                                  

 

There are a lot of parameters here. Some should be pretty self-explanatory (such as LANGUAGE RPG). Others take a little more time to explain than we have here, but hopefully I can address them in more detail in the next article. The important parameter is EXTERNAL NAME; in it, you specify the service program name and library in single quotes and then, within that, you specify the procedure name in parentheses. Case is very important here; the library and service program names must be uppercase, while the procedure name must match the procedure name exported from your program (in my case, I used all uppercase there as well).

 

Once you've successfully created the function, you're ready to call it. Here's an example of the SQL that I was able to run:

select * from JRNOUT where JOENTT = 'PT'

  and HEX2NUM(substr(JOESD,1,4),2) between 314000 and 315000          

 

That's exactly the syntax I was aiming for in the initial paragraphs, and the UDF worked perfectly, showing only adds (PUTs) for records whose order number was between 314000 and 315000.

Recap

Obviously, this wasn't a very complex example. The example only creates a single UDF attached to an RPG procedure in a very basic service program. But it's the archetype for all your other functions, which can be as complex as you need them to be; they can use other files, call other programs, even access other machines if need be. In the follow-up article, I'll go into more detail about the signatures (that is, the types of the parameters and the return value) and the ways we can use them to make this syntax even more powerful. Until then, have fun with this!

 

Joe Pluta

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been extending the IBM midrange since the days of the IBM System/3. Joe uses WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. He has written several books, including Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i, E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. Joe performs onsite mentoring and speaks at user groups around the country. You can reach him at joepluta@plutabrothers.com.


MC Press books written by Joe Pluta available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i
Joe Pluta introduces you to EGL Rich UI and IBM’s Rational Developer for the IBM i platform.
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    • 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.