Wed, Jul
0 New Articles

TechTip: MS Excel--They Gotta Have It!

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times
Never mind that the it referred to in the title may be totally inappropriate. Never mind that it may take longer than other methods. Never mind that the user is not properly trained in the use of it. The fact is that users love their MS Excel spreadsheets and will work with them to the exclusion of all else. No matter what! If you work with these users, and I know you do, you must be prepared to format AS/400 data into a spreadsheet. Your pleas of reason will go unheeded. Your pleas of logic will go unheeded. The fact that you can design a better, faster, more appropriate application for the data is irrelevant. Into the spreadsheet it must go. They gotta have it!

There are at least a dozen methods of accomplishing this goal--file transfer, ODBC, VBA, FTP, and many others. The biggest problem occurs when the goal is automation. That is the ability to create the spreadsheet on the AS/400 and send it to the end user, without the user lifting a finger, and you know that the user only occasionally will lift a finger.

The method I have devised for full automation is a combination of COPY commands and SMTP distribution. I use this because much of the work is done in background, during regular production runs. The users may or may not be available at the time the jobs are run. This design allows the spreadsheet to be distributed during regular daily, weekly, or monthly production runs. The users will receive the spreadsheets the next time they open their email.

The process starts with a DB2/400 physical or logical file. I have not tried this with logicals, but I see no reason why it should not work. I do know that the result of an OPNQRYF will not work. You must use the CPYFRMQRYF command before CPYTOIMPF. In other instances, the CPYTOIMPF command is used first. This command has an interesting quirk, which requires a dry run one step at a time, prior to running all commands from a CLP. Here's the quirk: The CPYTOIMPF command will not perform EBCDIC-to-ASCII translation when creating the target file. This is annoying, but you can work with it. The target file should be somewhere on the IFS. I use a folder in QDLS for reasons that will be apparent later, but this is not an absolute requirement. The CPYTOIMPF command should specify a delimiter of *CRLF so that the spreadsheet program can later use the data. Once the file has been created on the IFS, use the CPY command to create a *PCASCII version of the same file, with a suffix of .csv. All subsequent uses of CPYTOIMPF specifying *REPLACE and the CSV file as the target will perform the EBCDIC-to-ASCII translation without the CPY step.

Once the CSV file has been created, you may then use the SNDDST command, with the TYPE(*DOC) parameter specified, to email the CSV to the intended victim...er, I mean user. You can only use TYPE(*DOC) if the file is located within the QDLS directory. Despite the removal of OV/400, this works fine for V5R1 and above. In order to use SNDDST to an Internet address, SMTP must be configured.

When the user opens the CSV file, it should open automatically within MS Excel. When the user saves the file, a native Excel format can be used.

I have found this method to be quick and relatively painless. The technique can be embedded in almost any native AS/400 application, and a great deal of leeway is accorded the programming of distribution lists. The bottom line is that this method is quick and easy, and it works, even when the users don't.

David Abramowitz is an independent consultant. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in columns and rows.



Support MC Press Online


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: