AS400 Tutorials

How to Get the IBM i Info You Want

October 3rd, 2014 by John Andersen

Dear IBM i Pro,

First of all, thanks for taking the time out to read my blog posts and emails … I really appreciate it.

Your comments, emails, and feedback mean the world to me.

Some of you know this already … but unlike A LOT of people in business, if you send in a support question I personally read and answer it.

By the way … don’t you just hate it when you want support from a business, and you get some clown that can’t help at all. I think that’s a major problem with high-tech companies these days.

If some of these “businessmen” took the time to at least read support questions, they’d gain invaluable insight into what’s really going on with their customers.

Anyway, onward to today’s message.

I’ve been thinking about what IBM i materials to release next. And frankly, I have a few ideas…

And I’ve been getting emails from people desperate for programming information. But, so far I’ve had to refer them to the book I learned from.

The problem is, I really can’t decide what to do.

So I want to know what YOU want from me … how can I help YOU … how can I help make YOUR life easier ?

So let’s do a little survey. Here’s some options I’ve thought of:

  • How to write CL programs
  • How to write RPG IV programs
  • Using IBM DB2 Web Query for i
  • Writing embedded SQL in RPG IV programs
  • AS/400 and IBM i “Marketplace” with equipment and job postings
  • IBM i Basic User training for your end users
  • Something else (tell me what the something else).

Now here’s the deal. You HAVE to leave a comment below … if I don’t get enough people to respond, then I’ll have to assume there’s just not any demand for more IBM i materials and information.

So please don’t delay.

I’ll leave the comments open over the weekend, if you don’t respond now you’ll be left out.

Leave me a comment RIGHT NOW (don’t think you’ll get back to it later because you’ll probably forget) … and don’t do anything else until you’ve left me a comment.

My Best,

-John Andersen

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IBM to Spin off i?

October 1st, 2014 by John Andersen

Dear IBM i Pro,

I’m sure you noticed the recent sale of the IBM x86 server business to Lenovo.

And it’s got me wondering: what if IBM sold off the i platform?

Impossible? Hardly … these transitions happen.

For instance, did you know that Xerox isn’t a copier company anymore … they’ve turned the business around by doing outsourced billing and payment services.

Doesn’t it seem incredible for THE company that invented the term to make a Xerox copy, to not be in the copy business anymore? (Yes, you can still buy a Xerox copier, but that’s not what has been driving the company).

As someone who started out in the Wintel world … I had a “come to jesus” moment when I started using the AS/400.

I’ll be honest — I “thought” it was a crappy mainframe.

Boy wsa I wrong when then I discovered the IBM i is:

… a system that never ever crashes
… a robust database that works
… programming languages that are simple to learn and use
… one box that can take the place of a cluster of Wintel machines

And I hate to see the utter failure by IBM to really promote the platform.

It seems they can’t attract the next generation of programmers and people solving business problems.

When I used to go to an Infor conference, I would joke about being the youngest guy in the room (in my 20’s at the time).

Once I even tried to start a users group, and I couldn’t even get the local IBM partner interested at all … I guess business was booming and they were too busy making  money while drinking Merlot and lighting cigars with stacks of $100 bills.

What’s more, it seems like all IBM can do is lumber along and sell to existing customers, instead of really grow the install base.

On the other hand, maybe it would be good for someone else to take the reins.

Let someone that might actually give a damn take charge.

I’m not saying their aren’t people who work for the company that don’t care, it’s obvious there are.

Mike Cain’s blog on database and SQL enhancements is great.

And the i user community is committed and downright passionate, maybe even slightly rabid. And that’s great!

But it seems like IBM operates like a typical huge bureaucracy. It’s almost impossible to find out what’s going on with our beloved i platform that doesn’t come from a third party source.

And they’ve made dumb moves. Like when they tried to cram crappy Java down our throats… or when they showed up waaaaaay late to the PHP party.

Maybe major change would be good. Get things stirred up a bit.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

My Best,
-John Andersen

P.S. If you want to know more about working with the IBM i database, then check this out.

Tags: 2 Comments

How to Quickly Master the IBM i

September 10th, 2014 by John Andersen

Sometimes I get asked, out of all my offerings: what’s what … and how do the pieces fit together.

So let’s break it down.

If you are new to the AS/400 & IBM i world… maybe you’re an new system administrator, operator, programmer, manager, what have you.

And you need to get up to speed fast. You want to know how to get your system to startup, make sure jobs, printers and backups move smoothly along day after day.

You’ll also want to learn about the object file system, jobs and subsystems, printers and output queues, system messages, and TCP/IP connectivity.

If want help with that, then check out my Power System Jump Start.

That course covers the essential tasks every administrator needs to know.

A little known bonus about the Power System Jump Start course is that I update it from time to time. And your automatically “upgraded” to the latest and greatest version of the course. Pretty cool, huh?

Write Reports the Fast and Easy Way

Now, let’s talk about data and reports.

An IBM i is built around a database system … so at some point you’ll want to get at that data.

It might be a report, just to look at data, or you might want to change data in tables … modify tables, or create your own tables.

For that, I think the best tool is SQL.

But here’s what makes learning SQL many times more valuable: it’s portable.

You can take your SQL skills on the IBM i and, with small tweaks, use it on other platforms like MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle … or basically any other database system.

To get started with SQL today, you’ll want to check this site out:

Now, that leaves custom reports.

At some point you’ll HAVE to write a custom report. And if you don’t have a reporting program already, two good alternatives exist.

Here’s what I hate about third party reporting packages: they’re usually not made for power users … so they are larded up with “features” and a bunch of screens that actually slow you down.

But for quick reports and queries, SQL alone will get the job done probably 60% of the time. You just start up an interactive SQL session and change the output to a spool file … run the SQL statement … and you’re done.

If you have SQL statements you run often, store them in a Source Physical File and then you can call them up quickly with the RUNSQLSTM command.

But, for the other 40% of the time when you need reports with totals or a lot of polish and shine Query/400 and Query Manager are good choices.

Query/400 is a bit “old school” but it works really well. Query Manager is not as well known, but you probably already have it installed and licensed on your system. Many people do and don’t even realize it.

A HUGE difference between them is the use of SQL. Query/400 doesn’t use SQL, and Query Manager does … that means Query Manager can faster because it uses the modern SQL engine on the system.

For more about writing Query/400 and IBM i Query reports, go here:

To get started with Query Manager, you’ll want to check this out:

And at just $33, my Query Manager course is the bargain of the century!

A note about those courses … I’m going to merge them together into one big “report writing” course very soon … and the price will very probably go up. So get it NOW while it’s a bargain deal.

How to Write Your Own Custom Programs

Finally: writing programs.

Writing custom RPG programs is when my knowledge of the system really took off.

When coding, you start to learn more about the DB2 database, the system, how it’s structured and just commands in general.

Most folks write native programs on the platform with the RPG and CL languages.

CL, or Control Language, really creates “programs” using commands. But it does have features for logic, variables, looping and control … like you’d expect in a programming language.

When you want to start automating tasks on your system, CL is a good place to start.

RPG is a natural step if you want to write “native” type programs. It’s really good for making detailed reports that need lots of logic.

And if you want to write “green-screen” programs, RPG (along with DDS) is the way to go.

If your into web apps, then PHP is available.

I don’t yet have any programming courses … but I keep hearing from you that you’d like one.

So watch this space. I’ll probably start with a CL course and go from there based on your feedback.

Until then, I’ll recommend Bryan Meyers and Judi Yeager’s book “Programming in RPG IV.” It’s how I learned RPG III and RPG IV. And I spent many late nights at work after hours, going through that book to learn RPG IV.

And you can find copies of that book on Amazon.

How IBM i Skills Become Second Nature

When you pick up one of my courses you’ll discover they are accelerated training.

As an IT professional, I get that you’re busy.

You don’t have time to wade through a thousand page manual to find a command. And forget about trying to follow a BORING audio recording — an audio might work for a Dr. Deyer self-help program — but audio is not for hands on technical tasks where you learn best by doing.

My courses shortcut the process.

They make use of “live video” tasks being done on an actual AS/400 and IBM i system.

Don’t you just HATE it when you read something in a book, try to repeat what the author did, and discover there’s a mistake or typo… and it doesn’t work.

You’re left scratching your head, and completely frustrated. And it’s not like the publisher sends you a revised copy. In fact, your lucky if they even have a forum where the author — might — might possibly poke in to fix publishing or editing mistakes.

I’ve eliminated all that hassle and frustration — with the step by step videos (and you see this especially in the SQL Course where being precise matters!) you see how it’s done. Nothing is left out.

You can trust what you’re learning works, and you can prove that it works by repeating the same EXACT SAME thing on your own system.

My Best,

-John Andersen

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