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V5R4 SQL Enhancements

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With V5R4, IBM continues its expansion of Structured Query Language (SQL) support inside of DB2 Universal Database (DB2 UDB) for iSeries. These enhancements include additional scalar and aggregate functions, new data types, support for online analytical processing (OLAP), and support for embedded SQL in free-format ILE RPG. In this article, we'll explore these changes and see how they'll make your life easier.

Special Registers and Scalar and Aggregate Functions

In V5R4, a new set of functions has been added to increase SQL's compatibility with other DB2 implementations.

Special Registers

SQL's new functionality includes four new special registers. Special registers are areas for storing and retrieving defined values for use within other SQL statements.

The new SESSION_USER and SYSTEM_USER special registers are both used to store and retrieve authorization information. The SESSION_USER special register is equivalent to the preexisting USER special register and has been added for increased compatibility with other SQL implementations. Initially, the value of SESSION_USER will be equal to the SYSTEM_USER special register, which contains the user ID used to connect to the current server. The SESSION_USER special register, however, can be changed at runtime using the SET SESSION AUTHORIZATION statement.

The CURRENT DEBUG MODE special register controls the level of debugging supported when procedures are created. Possible values for this special register are DISALLOW, ALLOW, and DISABLE. A value of DISALLOW indicates that debugging within the Unified Debugger should not be allowed. This value can be overridden by the SET OPTION DEBUG MODE statement on the CREATE PROCEDURE statement. A value of ALLOW indicates that the procedure should be allowed to be debugged within the Unified Debugger. Again, this value can be overridden using the SET OPTION DEBUG MODE statement. The value of DISABLE indicates that the procedure should be created to not allow debugging from within the Unified Debugger and that the SET OPTION DEBUG MODE statement will not override this.

The CURRENT DEGREE special register defines the level of I/O or SMP parallel processing to be used. This value is set using the SET CURRENT DEGREE x statement, where x is either a value from 1 to 32767 or one of several special values. A value of ANY indicates that the system should determine the level of parallel processing. NONE indicates that no parallel processing should be allowed. A value of MAX also allows the system to determine the level of parallel processing, but it assumes that all active memory in the pool can be used. Finally, a value of IO indicates that no SMP parallel processing should be allowed but that any number of IO parallel tasks can occur.

Scalar Functions

V5R4 also contains several new scalar date functions. ADD_MONTHS can be used to obtain a date that is the result of a given date plus a specified number of months. The first parameter used with this function represents the date to which the months should be added. The value must be a date field, a timestamp field, or a character field that evaluates to a date. The second parameter defines the number of months to be added to the date supplied on the first parameter, as shown below:

SELECT ADD_MONTHS('01/29/2006', 1), ADD_MONTHS('01/01/2006', -1)
FROM SYSIBM.SYSDUMMY1

The values returned by this statement would be a date value representing the date 2/28/2006 and a date value representing the date 12/1/2005. Note that a negative value can be used to effectively subtract months rather than add them. Also note that if the day portion of the date provided is greater than the last day of the resulting month, the last day of that month is returned.

The LAST_DAY function accepts a single parameter containing a date value, a timestamp value, or a character string that evaluates to a date. This function returns the last day of the month for the provided date, as shown here:

SELECT LAST_DAY('01/15/2006')
FROM SYSIBM.SYSDUMMY1

When executed, this statement returns a date value representation of the date 01/31/2006.

The NEXT_DAY function returns the next date associated with a specified day of the week following a provided date. The first parameter identifies the starting date. The second parameter identifies the name of day of the week to be returned. Valid values are the full day name ('MONDAY', 'TUESDAY', etc.) or the proper three-letter abbreviation ('MON', 'TUE', etc.). The example below illustrates this function's use:

SELECT NEXT_DAY('02/08/2006', 'WEDNESDAY')
FROM SYSIBM.SYSDUMMY1

When executed, this example returns a date of 2/15/2006, which is the next Wednesday after 2/8/2006.

The VARCHAR_FORMAT function converts a supplied timestamp value or a string representation of a timestamp value into a VARCHAR representation of the proper timestamp format. The first parameter supplies the input timestamp value, while the second parameter identifies the format of the resulting timestamp in VARCHAR format. This value must be specified as 'YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS'. In this string, YYYY represents the four-digit year, MM represents the two-digit month, DD represents the two-digit day, HH24 represents the two-digit hour in 24-hour format, MI represents the minute portion of the timestamp, and SS represents the seconds portion of the timestamp. Below is a sample of this function's use:

SELECT VARCHAR_FORMAT('2006-1-1 9:00:00', ''YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS')
FROM SYSIBM.SYSDUMMY1

When executed, this statement returns the value 2006-01-01 09:00:00. Note that the leading 0's are inserted in each portion of the timestamp.

The ENCRYPT_TDES function gives the user the ability to encrypt field data within an SQL statement. Like its predecessor, the ENCRYPT_RC2 function, ENCRYPT_TDES accepts a parameter containing the string data to be encrypted in BINARY, VARBINARY, CHAR, VARCHAR, GRAPHIC, VARGRAPHIC, VARCHAR FOR BIT DATA, BLOB, CLOB, or DBCLOB formats. The function also accepts two optional parameters, which are used to supply an encryption password and a password hint. If the password value is not provided, the data is encrypted using the default encryption password, which is set using the SET ENCRYPTION PASSWORD statement. Unlike the existing ENCRYPT_RC2 function, ENCRYPT_TDES uses the Triple DES encryption algorithm. To populate a table field with the result of the ENCRYPT_TDES function, the field must be defined as BINARY, BLOB, CHAR FOR BIT DATA, VARBINARY, or VARCHAR FOR BIT DATA. The length of the field definition must also take into consideration additional bytes required to store the password data. This is accomplished by taking the length of the data to be encrypted, adding 16 bytes for the password, rounding the result up to the next multiple of 8, and finally adding the number of bytes required for the password hint.

The GENERATE_UNIQUE function generates a unique 13-byte bit character string. This unique value is generated using a combination of the Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) and the iSeries serial number. The value returned will be unique each time the function is executed. A column within a table that contains a GENERATE_UNIQUE value must be defined as CHAR(13) FOR BIT DATA. The resulting value can also be used along with the TIMESTAMP function to determine the time when the data was updated.

The RAISE_ERROR function allows a user to return a specified error. The first parameter contains a five-character string that evaluates to the SQL State associated with the error. The second parameter contains a string with a maximum length of 70 bytes, which contains a diagnostic string related to the error. This statement is generally used within SQL procedural language. It cannot be used in circumstances where parameter markers are not allowed, such as from within interactive SQL, without using a CAST specification to define a data type for the function's results. This is because the RAISE_ERROR's data type is undefined.

Aggregate Functions

In addition to these scalar functions, aggregate functions have been added. The STDDEV_SAMP function returns the sample standard deviation of a set of numbers. This value is basically the result of this formula:

SQRT(VAR_SAMP(value))

That is the square root of the sample variance for the set of numbers. The STDDEV_SAMP function accepts a single parameter containing the numeric value on which the sample standard deviation is to be calculated.

The new VAR_SAMP function, shown above, calculates the sample variance of a set of numbers. As shown earlier, the single parameter identifies the numeric field on which the VAR_SAMP results are to be based. Below is the formula used to calculate the sample variance:

(SUM(field ^ 2) - ((SUM(field) ^ 2) / (COUNT(*)))) / (COUNT(*) - 1)

Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)

OLAP functionality has been added to SQL in V5R4. This ability extends the existing aggregate functionality within SQL by adding ranking and row numbering capabilities. This functionality allows for greater ability to analyze data using only SQL. The code below shows the syntax used to accomplish this:

SELECT 
RANK() OVER(PARTITION BY part defn ORDER BY sort order [ASC, DESC]) AS RANK_VAL,
DENSE_RANK() OVER(PARTITION BY part defn ORDER BY sort order [ASC, DESC]) AS DNS_RNK_VAL,
ROW_NUMBER() OVER(PARTITION BY part defn ORDER BY sort order [ASC, DESC]) AS ROW_VAL
FROM table name

The RANK and DENSE_RANK specifications allow you to retrieve a ranking within a defined group of fields for the current record. The field definition is based on the list of fields defined on the ORDER BY clause. The PARTITION BY clause can also be included to define partitioning of the ranking data. The statement below gives an example of this:

SELECT DIVISION, CUSTOMER,  SALES$, 
RANK() OVER(PARTITION BY DIVISION ORDER BY SALES$ DESC) AS SALES_RANK
FROM SALES_DATA
ORDER BY DIVISION, RANK() OVER(PARTITION BY DIVISION ORDER BY SALES$ DESC)

In this example, the data will be ranked by sales dollars within each division. The numbering returned will represent the ranking within the PARTITION BY value specified. Note that we've used the RANK() specification again within the ORDER BY clause for our SELECT statement to indicate that the result set should be sorted by the sales dollars. The way that ranking is determined when the ORDER BY values are identical depends on whether you use RANK or DENSE_RANK. While RANK will assign identical values the same rank, it also increments the "rank counter," meaning that if the top five records all have the same ORDER BY value, they will all appear as the number 1 ranking, but the sixth record will have a ranking of 6. If DENSE_RANK is used, the first five records will still have a ranking of 1, but the next record will have a ranking of 2.

The ROW_NUMBER specification is similar to the RANK specification. It returns the sequential row number within the defined partition, based on the ORDER BY clause. ROW_NUMBER, however, does not group like values as the RANK and DENSE_RANK specifications do. Below is a sample of using ROW_NUMBER:

SELECT ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER BY DEPT, LNAME ) AS ROW_N, LNAME, SALRY$ 
FROM PAYROLL 
ORDER BY DEPT, LNAME

This example displays a row number within a DEPT group based on the value of the LNAME field. The ASC and DESC modifiers can be added to the ORDER BY clause to identify ascending or descending order. The optional NULLS FIRST and NULLS LAST values can be specified to force any null values to the beginning or end of the result set. The ORDER OF clause can be used in place of the ORDER BY clause to identify that the data set should be ordered using the sort order of the table specified.

SELECT ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER OF PAYROLL) AS ROW_N, LNAME, SALRY$ 
FROM PAYROLL 
ORDER BY DEPT, LNAME

In this example, the value PAYROLL identifies that the order of our data should be the same sort order defined on the PAYROLL table.

Free-Form ILE RPG Embedded SQL

If you're an "embedded SQL junkie" like I am, this is the language enhancement you've been waiting for. Prior to V5R4, in order to execute an embedded SQL statement from a free-form program, you had to exit from free-form using the /END FREE compiler directive and then enter embedded SQL using the /EXEC SQL compiler directive. In V5R4, IBM has simplified the process and in turn made embedding SQL into an RPG program even more seamless. Below is a snippet of code showing how a free-form ILE RPG program with embedded SQL would have to be coded prior to V5R4:

     C/Free                        
        SQL_Str = 'SELECT NAME FROM CUSTOMERS , ' + 
        ' WHERE STATE= ? AND ACTBAL>0 ';
      /END-FREE            
     C/EXEC SQL                                
     C+ PREPARE SQL_STMT FROM :SQL_Str     
     C/END-EXEC                       
     C/EXEC SQL                      
     C+ DECLARE CUST_Crsr CURSOR FOR SQL_STMT       
     C/END-EXEC                            
     C/EXEC SQL                                                                      
     C+ OPEN CUST_Crsr USING :STCD
     C/END-EXEC 
     C/EXEC SQL                       
     C+ FETCH CUST_Crsr INTO :CUSTNAME
     C/END-EXEC                      
     C/Free                                
       DoW SQLCOD <> 100 and SQLCOD >= 0;        
         Write PRINTP1;
       EndDo;
      /End Free                                                                                               

You'll notice that each instance of switching from free-form to SQL requires at least two additional lines of code, not to mention the fact that we need to use the /EXEC SQL and /END-EXEC directives for each SQL statement we want to execute. This means that a single line of SQL takes up three lines of code. In V5R4, IBM has rectified this problem. The code below shows how the previous example can be coded in V5R4:

     C/Free                           
        SQL_Str = 'SELECT NAME FROM CUSTOMERS , ' +       
        ' WHERE STATE= ? AND ACTBAL>0 ';
        EXEC SQL PREPARE SQL_STMT FROM :SQL_Str;     
        EXEC SQL DECLARE CUST_Crsr CURSOR FOR SQL_STMT;     
        EXEC SQL OPEN CUST_Crsr USING :STCD;
        EXEC SQL FETCH CUST_Crsr INTO :CUSTNAME;
        DoW SQLCOD <> 100 and SQLCOD >= 0;          
          Write PRINTP1;
        EndDo;
      /End Free                                                                                           

As you can see, this much simpler method of coding embedded SQL not only reduces the number of code lines required, but actually makes the code much easier to read. Once again, this indicates IBM's commitment to the further use of SQL as well as the continued development of the RPG language.

DB2 UDB and SQL

With the continued evolution of SQL on the iSeries, IBM has shown its eagerness to keep DB2 UDB for the iSeries in line not only with versions of DB2 for other platforms, but also with other implementations of SQL. One can only wonder what goodies they'll have for us in the next release.

Mike Faust is an Application Programmer for Fidelity Integrated Financial Solutions in Maitland, Florida. Mike is also the author of the books The iSeries and AS/400 Programmer's Guide to Cool Things and Active Server Pages Primer and SQL Built-in Functions and Stored Procedures. You can contact Mike at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Mike Faust

Mike Faust is a senior consultant/analyst for Retail Technologies Corporation in Orlando, Florida. Mike is also the author of the books Active Server Pages Primer, The iSeries and AS/400 Programmer's Guide to Cool Things, JavaScript for the Business Developer, and SQL Built-in Functions and Stored Procedures. You can contact Mike at mikeffaust@yahoo.com.


MC Press books written by Mike Faust available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

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    Plus, see how HelpSystems data automation software will help you stop re-keying data.

     

  • The Top Five RPG Open Access Myths....BUSTED!

    SB_Profound_WC_GenericWhen it comes to IBM Rational Open Access: RPG Edition, there are still many misconceptions - especially where application modernization is concerned!

    In this Webinar, we'll address some of the biggest myths about RPG Open Access, including:

    • Modernizing with RPG OA requires significant changes to the source code
    • The RPG language is outdated and impractical for modernizing applications
    • Modernizing with RPG OA is the equivalent to "screen scraping"

     

  • Time to Remove the Paper from Your Desk and Become More Efficient

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericToo much paper is wasted. Attempts to locate documents in endless filing cabinets.And distributing documents is expensive and takes up far too much time.
    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.

     

     

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

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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.