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AS400

How Do You Learn The AS/400?

This is a question I see frequently all over the place, how can you learn how to use an AS/400? Generally this is being asked by folks who are on job interviews with companies and organizations that use a 400 to run the business.

Well the long and the short of it is from an end user standpoint it depends. Why is that? Because the AS/400 is just a platform, just like Windows is a platform. The actual business software runs on top the platform. Does that make sense? The way you enter in data and work with the programs will be different from software package to software package that runs on the AS/400.

So ultimately there is not one good answer on how to learn the AS/400.

However there are almost always commonalities in screen layout design that all users should be familiar with. For instance F3 exits a screen whilst F5 refreshes or updates a screen. If you need help with a specific field or screen then F1 usually brings up the help info. And so on.

Learn the “F” keys and learn them well.

The plus (+) key on the numeric keypad is generally mapped as a field exit key which slides your numbers over to the right in a field. This is handy when entering in numeric data.

Now this is an overly simplistic view of how things work on the AS400, but at least its a starting point for most total beginners. But there really is no good answer to learning an AS/400 from an end user perspective because you will need to learn the software that is being used. Hopefully the place you get hired at will at least train you on the software and it’s nuances.

Now there are some things that are good for you to know and can certainly give you a leg up or make you a power user. Like Operations Navigator, iSeries Navigator or i Navigator. Whatever IBM decides on renaming it does not matter, its what it can do for you that matters.

For instance almost every user would like to download spool files (aka reports) to there PC so they can send them electronically, email or import the data into another program like MS Excel. This is an area where i Navigator shines, you can simply track down your spool files within Navigator and then literally drag and drop it on your desktop where it is then instantly converted to a format compatible with your workstation. Pretty simple stuff that can save you hours of work.

There is alot more to be said for Navigator and I am just barely scratching the surface but most of the other tools built into it are for system administration and configuration tasks, not for end users unless you have someone that is really a power user or sophisticated enough not to screw something up. Fortunately when installing Navigator you can pick and choose which modules a user will have installed and can access.

End users should be familiar with the printing systems and how to control printable output in the form of spool files. Everything that is printable is called a spool file. Spool files spool in output queues which are then prints the document on a physical printer. So you should become familiar with the Work With Spooled Files command WRKSPLF.

WRKSPLF will show you all of your current spool files or the spool files of another user, where they are and what the status is. If you need to know why that report you just created isn’t printing this should be your first stop. There could be a message waiting.

If a printer has a bunch of documents printing on it you can use WRKSPLF to move the spooled file to another printer that may be idle.

Another frequently asked question is where the heck is that job I just submitted? So users should familiarize themselves with the Work With Submitted Jobs command WRKSBMJOB.

WRKSBMJOB displays all of the jobs you have submitted and where they are currently residing. Most importantly there is the “— status—” column that displays the current status of that job. This is important because if the job is waiting for it’s turn to actually run it the WRKSBMJOB display will show that it is waiting in the job queue so you know that it hasn’t run yet.

If the job shows the status of “ACTIVE” then it is still processing and hasn’t finished running yet.

If the job shows a status of “OUTQ” then it has finished running and the spool file is waiting on an output queue so you can go and print it.

See how easy that is? To make your life even easier the WRKSBMJOB screen allows you to take an option to look at a message that may be waiting on the job or to go directly to the spooled files it created so you can release them or move to another outq.

-John Andersen