15
Sat, Jun
4 New Articles

SQL 101: Tools of the Trade - The ACS Run SQL Scripts, Part 2

SQL
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

As promised, here are a few more tricks and tips about ACS’ Run SQL Scripts, including the availability of a new version with some nice features!

A couple of TechTips ago, I explained how to install ACS and remarked that the process was not very user-friendly. Among other things, you need to figure out which JavaScript file to use in order to start the right installation process and, when the said process ends, you have to create your own desktop shortcuts.

It seems these (and a few more) complaints were heard by IBM, because ACS’ latest version (1.1.6.2), released at the end of January 2017, creates the desktop shortcuts if you tell it to (however, you still need to figure out which JavaScript file to use). Anyway, here’s the complete list of updates, courtesy of ACS’ web page:

  • Enhancements to Printer Output filter:
    • Multiple output queues
    • User-specified data
  • Enhancements to Data Transfer:
    • Added support for DOS Random
  • EHLLAPI Bridge: 5250 applications requiring EHLLAPI may now download the ACS EHLLAPI Bridge from the Updates website.
  • Additional support to restrict functions using Application Administration
  • Several fixes

I’m guessing that the creation of the desktop shortcuts is included in that catch-all “Several fixes” category.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to start by addressing a reader’s question: How can you prompt an SQL statement in ACS’ Run SQL Scripts like you do with F4 in STRSQL?

In short, the answer is “You can’t.” But there are alternatives….

“SQL Assist” Is MIA; the Pseudo-Alternative Is “Insert from Examples”

If you know IBM i Access’ Run SQL Scripts, you may know that there’s a neat feature called SQL Assist, available via F4, just like in STRSQL, or the SQL Assist/Prompt CL… option in the Edit menu. But before you fire up ACS’ Run SQL Scripts and go looking for that option, let me stop (and disappoint you) right there: the menu option doesn’t exist. It’s one of the things that didn’t migrate (at least not yet) to the ACS version. I’ve been told that IBM is working on it, but there’s no release date on the horizon.

I’m pretty sure you opened ACS’ Run SQL Scripts anyway, so go to the Edit menu. Instead of SQL Assist, you’ll find something else that helps, even though it doesn’t solve the problem: the Insert from Examples… option. Even though this is not a new feature, it was greatly improved on the migration to ACS. It now includes a categorized view of the examples, as shown in Figure 1, and the sheer amount of example code is staggering.

 C# for RPGers: Making Stuff Happen, Part 1 - Introducing Flow Control in C# - Figure 1

Figure 1: The Insert from Examples window from ACS’ Run SQL Scripts

Figure 1 shows the list of the DML category, but there are many, many more examples, neatly organized in nine categories, which include nearly everything you can think of, from getting information about PTFs to executing CL commands, changing tables’ authorities, and creating procedures. In order to use it, simply select an example from the list and click the Insert button that sits on the bottom right corner of the window. Then replace the placeholder names with the appropriate ones. It’s not SQL Assist, but it’s very helpful.

Discovering the Syntax Checker

Another feature that is also not new, but has been improved, is the Syntax Checker. You can access it using the respective option in the Run menu or via the Ctrl+Shift+X key combination.

The functionality does what the name implies, scanning your code and looking for errors. It detects not only the “classic” syntax errors, such as misspelled keywords, but also other more subtle things, like unknown or misspelled column names, missing parameters in functions, and so on.

The result of the check is not brilliant because of the cryptic nature of SQL error messages, but the fact that the syntax checker highlights where the first error occurred is especially useful when you’re dealing with large or long-running scripts. The checking process is usually very fast, and it doesn’t need to actually execute the code in order to check it.

These two features used together will help you circumvent the absence of the SQL Assist, at least until IBM manages to add that feature to ACS’ Run SQL Scripts.

Do You Toggle?

I’d like to finish this TechTip with a small tip: Do you know the Toggle comments option? I use it a lot. It’s another option that does what the name implies: It adds or removes the dash (--) to or from the line where the cursor is located, thus turning that code line into a comment line or vice versa. This is very useful where you’re writing long, multiline statements and want to try different things, such as different conditions in the WHERE clause, for instance. In the previous TechTip, I’ve shown how to configure and use the SQL formatter. If you set up your formatter to break to a new line every time it finds an AND or OR keyword, disabling that line is simply a matter of placing the cursor anywhere on it and pressing Ctrl+7 (this may vary with keyboard layouts, because the key shortcut is actually Ctrl+Slash) or selecting the Toggle comments option from the Edit menu.

More to Come

There’s much more to be said about ACS’ Run SQL Scripts, namely about the Visual Explain functionality, but I’ll leave that to a future TechTip. Next time around I’ll be introducing another interesting tool of the trade: the SQuirreL SQL Client. Until then, please use the comments section to share your own tips, tricks, and more!

Rafael Victoria-Pereira

Rafael Victória-Pereira has more than 20 years of IBM i experience as a programmer, analyst, and manager. Over that period, he has been an active voice in the IBM i community, encouraging and helping programmers transition to ILE and free-format RPG. Rafael has written more than 100 technical articles about topics ranging from interfaces (the topic for his first book, Flexible Input, Dazzling Output with IBM i) to modern RPG and SQL in his popular RPG Academy and SQL 101 series on mcpressonline.com and in his books Evolve Your RPG Coding and SQL for IBM i: A Database Modernization Guide. Rafael writes in an easy-to-read, practical style that is highly popular with his audience of IBM technology professionals.

Rafael is the Deputy IT Director - Infrastructures and Services at the Luis Simões Group in Portugal. His areas of expertise include programming in the IBM i native languages (RPG, CL, and DB2 SQL) and in "modern" programming languages, such as Java, C#, and Python, as well as project management and consultancy.


MC Press books written by Rafael Victória-Pereira available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Evolve Your RPG Coding: Move from OPM to ILE...and Beyond Evolve Your RPG Coding: Move from OPM to ILE...and Beyond
Transition to modern RPG programming with this step-by-step guide through ILE and free-format RPG, SQL, and modernization techniques.
List Price $79.95

Now On Sale

Flexible Input, Dazzling Output with IBM i Flexible Input, Dazzling Output with IBM i
Uncover easier, more flexible ways to get data into your system, plus some methods for exporting and presenting the vital business data it contains.
List Price $79.95

Now On Sale

SQL for IBM i: A Database Modernization Guide SQL for IBM i: A Database Modernization Guide
Learn how to use SQL’s capabilities to modernize and enhance your IBM i database.
List Price $79.95

Now On Sale

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

LATEST COMMENTS

Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:
$

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 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. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) 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:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. 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:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot 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:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic 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.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: