Thu, Jun
4 New Articles

The Way We Word: Welcome to Office Integration

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

"You say you want a revolution, well, you know..."

"Chris, this is Victoria Mack."

Egad. A phone call from herself, the august editor of MCMagOnline. I am suitably impressed. Fearful, even. Gripping the phone, I genuflect, take a position that is appropriately obsequious, and answer. "I am your humble servant, Your Majesty. Command me!"

"Cut the crap, Devous. I need a column. You wanna write one?" Her tone is imperious. This is not a person to disappoint.

I stand and salute. "You can count on me, ma'am!"

"Stop saluting and sit down!" How did she know? It must be true what they say about editors: X-ray vision, clairvoyance, nerves of steel... "OK. Now, what I want a column about is Microsoft integration. You know anything about that?"

"We all want to change the world..."

Well, as a matter of fact, I do know a thing or two about that: Like everybody else with an iSeries in their shop, I have been integrating the hell out of DB2 data and Microsoft Office. In fact, at the time of this writing, I'm also working on the first "meat and potatoes" article for this column. In it, I describe the use of IBM's OLE DB and index access providers using VBA in Excel.

So what else is there? Socket servers? Socket clients? Spinning spreadsheets and documents out of DB2 data using client applications?

In truth, all of the above, and a bunch of other stuff too. So, at the suggestion of our dear editor (a lovely, smart, and well-mannered lady; don't let the bit of fiction in the introduction above fool you for a minute), I'm asking you, our readers. What would you like to know? What kind of programming techniques and examples would you like me to provide for you?

"You say you got a real solution, well, you know..."

In our day-to-day computing lives, we constantly encounter opportunities for integration. By this, I mean that we run into situations in which an established and easily run procedure could create efficiencies and allow the more effective use of human resources. Jeez, I ran into two just yesterday!

All of these situations start with "I need to..." followed by a description of what it is my user needs. Yesterday, "I need to" was rounded out with "create some mailing labels for a customer mailing." Seems simple? Well, since Word directly supports Avery labels, it can be. The data is in the customer master file, and the customer master file is on the iSeries. With Office integration, no problem!

Another "I need to" was followed by "compare a pipe delimited file our freight forwarder sent us with purchase order lines." Purchase order lines are on the iSeries. With Excel, VBA, and OLE DB, again no problem!

Our company uses BPCS, an ERP system by SSA Global Technologies'. Many of you are familiar with that. We run it on an iSeries Model 720 on V4R5. We have a several-hundred-user TCP/IP network running a mix of IBM-compatible microcomputers, printers, and even a few Macintoshes. My environment is probably a lot like your environment, and if I run into these kinds of integration opportunities a lot, you must constantly encounter them too.

Need to send collection letters to slow-paying customers? It might help if you could teach Word to look at A/R data, create a mail merge file, run the merge, and print the letters.

Need to forecast? It might be good if you could develop a technique to quickly move mountains of data across limited bandwidth, collate it, and put it in a spreadsheet for analysis and what-if scenarios.

Need to get data to a field sales force? It might be helpful if your liaison could create a sales report on demand, using Excel to total and sort from a subset of customers by ZIP code, area code, state, or business type.

But these are my ideas.

"We'd all love to see the plan..."

What MCMagOnline wants me to write about, gentle reader, are your ideas for integrating iSeries resident data with Microsoft Office applications. Obviously, I can't accommodate every request, but I really do want to hear your ideas so that I can present techniques to help you accomplish your goals. To that end, please write me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and tell me what you think.

The goal is to present, to the extent possible, complete, working solutions that you could put in front of an end user. Need to build a pro forma invoice? Do it regularly? Ok, Ms. A. Payable, here's a new spreadsheet. Press Ctrl+G, key the order number into the dialog, and there you go!

Tune in next month, same bat time, same bat channel, for column number 1!

Chris Devous is the Director of IT Systems Development at The Antigua Group, Inc., a Peoria, Arizona, garment manufacturer. Chris has been in IT since '82 and lives Arizona with his wife, three children, a bird, two dogs, and a cat.



Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:

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: