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The AS/400 Piece of Graphical FTP Software

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At its core, FTP is a plain-Jane TCP/IP utility that people are passionately interested in using. FTP provides a ground-level common denominator function for easily moving information between dissimilar computers. FTP is powerful because it can be used everywhere and you don’t have to be a Java programmer to understand it. If you have TCP/IP on your desktop, you probably have an FTP client, and you can communicate with any FTP server.

FTP’s downside is that—in order to be universal—it’s necessary to run it from a command-line interface. There is no native graphical interface for FTP, and that tends to make people uncomfortable. Commands are typed in one at a time or run in batch mode processing, and FTP can be a little kludgy as a result. In addition, there are a few special tricks and AS/400-only FTP commands that you need to use in an AS/400 environment. Because of the awkward command-line interface and the AS/400-specific commands, several vendors are stepping forward to provide freeware, shareware, and commercial versions of a graphical Windows FTP client and some Windows FTP server products. FTP has become so popular and so necessary that it is beginning to breed an addon group of products that make the FTP interface easier to use. For this article, I did a search in the Midrange Computing Yellow Pages (www.midrangecomputing. com/yellowpages) using the “FTP” keyword, and it displayed products from Renex Corp. (BlueZone FTP Client, www.renex. com), TrailBlazer Systems (ZMOD FTP product, www.as400ftp. com), Smith Computer Services (FTP/400 Client, www.smithcom.bizland.com), Surround Technologies (Universal File Transfer Protocol Interface [UFTP] System, www.surroundtech. com), and RJS Software Systems (FTP File Server, www.rjssoft. com). There is a growing marketplace for graphical FTP products that should continue to expand in the next year.

But Watch Out for the AS/400-specific Commands

As I mentioned, there are some special tricks for uploading/downloading files to and from an AS/400. In particular, you have to watch your FTP session default naming format (NAMEFMT) value when exchanging files with the AS/400 Integrated File System (AS/400 IFS). This setting can be set to either 0 or 1. When NAMEFMT is set to 0, OS/400 limits FTP transfers to DB2/UDB files (DB2/UDB files are contained in the QSYS.LIB file system in the AS/400 IFS). When NAMEFMT is set to 1, AS/400 FTP

allows you to exchange files with a number of other AS/400 IFSs, including the Root (/), QDLS, QOpenSys, QSYS.Lib, and QfileSrv.400 systems.

In addition, NAMEFMT controls the syntax you use for designating a file in its AS/400 IFS location. When set to 0, you are only dealing with the QSYS.LIB filing system, so there is no need to designate an AS/400 location in your FTP commands. However, when set to 1, NAMEFMT forces you to insert path-specific names in your FTP commands that designate both the AS/400 IFS and (for DB2/UDB files) explicit designations for AS/400 libraries, files, and members. Also, NAMEFMT can be automatically set to 1 by preceding the file or AS/400 IFS name with a slash (/) in an FTP command.

There are several other AS/400-specific FTP commands that can make a difference in your transfers. OS/400 supports a set of commands to create and delete libraries; physical, logical, and source files; and AS/400 file members. You can also run AS/400 CL jobs from your local AS/400 FTP client by using the Pass an AS/400 CL command (SYSCMD) inside an FTP session. In addition, you can execute a system command on a remote AS/400 FTP server by executing the OS/400 command (RCMD) inside an FTP session.

For AS/400 FTP sessions, there is a lot of AS/400-only functionality that must be taken into account to get the desired results. Your best option for getting started with AS/400 FTP is to surf to the AS/400 Information Center (publib.boulder.ibm.com/pubs/html/ as400/infocenter.htm), open the Main/TCP/IP/Transferring files (FTP) turndowns, and research these capabilities further.

Yes, There Is a Point Here

Getting back to the commercial FTP packages that provide a graphical interface for manipulating FTP sessions, you must also evaluate these packages in terms of your AS/400 needs. To that end, here are some questions you might want to ask when you’re looking at these packages:

• Was the package created with AS/400 FTP transfers in mind, and does it support the twists needed to transfer files to and from the various AS/400 IFSs, including the different path naming formats when NAMEFMT is set to 0 or 1?

• How does the package handle other AS/400-specific FTP commands such as SYSCMD and RCMD?

• Will the package handle AS/400-style directory listings, or do you need V4R4’s UNIX- style directory listings? Prior to V4R4, the AS/400’s FTP server listed directories in a format that confused many graphical clients.

In an AS/400 network, it is standard to use Windows computers as your front-end while retaining all your business data on a back-end AS/400. So, when you are looking at Windows graphical FTP software, be sure it covers all your AS/400-specific needs before you buy.



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