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Data-Manipulation Operations Using Free Format, Part One

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Data, it seems, is never quite in the form we need. We perform operations on our data to convert it to the form we want. Free-format RPG IV offers a variety of methods for transforming data to suit our requirements.

Editor's Note: This article is excerpted from chapter 8 of Free-Format RPG IV: Third Edition, by Jim Martin.

In this excerpt series, we explore those options, which include assignment statements, a large stable of built-in functions, and operations for converting dates and times.

Assignment Statements

Chapter 4 introduced the free-format evaluation operation. Evaluate, whether coded with or without the Eval (Evaluate expression) operation code, is an important operation in free format. The basic form of an Eval statement is

Data-Manipulation Operations Using Free Format, Part 1 - Figure 1

Explicitly specifying the Eval operation code is optional. When you don’t specify Eval, the remaining part of the line becomes an assignment statement that takes the following form:

Data-Manipulation Operations Using Free Format, Part 1 - Figure 2

In either form, the evaluate operation performs the functions specified in the expression on the right side of the equal sign (=) and assigns (moves) the expression’s result to the variable specified on the left.

Free-format RPG IV supports assignment statements for numeric, character, date, time, and indicator data. In the following sections, we take a closer look at each of these types of operations.

Eval Operation: Numeric

For numeric operands, the evaluate operation places the result of the assignment statement’s expression into a numeric result variable with proper decimal alignment. Variables used in the operation’s numeric expression can be any numeric data type, including zoned decimal, packed decimal, binary, integer (signed or unsigned), or float. The compiler takes care of any data-type differences by creating work fields. If the result of the expression on the right side of the assignment is too large for the receiving variable on the left, you’ll receive an exception message at run time.

To specify half adjust, result decimal precision, or both for a numeric assignment operation, you must code the Eval operation code explicitly, along with the appropriate operation extender: (h) for half-adjust and (r) for precision. Listing 8-1 shows some examples of Eval and numeric assignment statements, including two half-adjust operations.

Data-Manipulation Operations Using Free Format, Part 1 - Figure 3

Data-Manipulation Operations Using Free Format, Part 1 - Figure3(cont)

Listing 8-1: Eval and numeric assignment statements

Eval Operation: Character

For character data types used in assignment statements, the resulting character string replaces the content of the variable on the left unless the left side is substringed. The resulting character string is left-justified in the variable or substringed location. With Eval or assignment statements that use character variables, the operation sets the left variable (or substringed locations) to blank before moving the data. The option to “pad” with blanks is unnecessary because the Eval or assignment always pads with blanks—in fact, you can’t stop the padding. Those of you familiar with fixed-format RPG’s MoveL (Move left) operation will note that the Eval or assignment for character data is equivalent to a move left with pad.

If the resulting character string is longer than the receiving variable or substringed locations, the operation truncates the characters in the result string beyond the length of the receiving field. Listing 8-2 shows some sample assignment statements that use character data.

Data-Manipulation Operations Using Free Format, Part 1 - Figure 4

Data-Manipulation Operations Using Free Format, Part 1 - Figure 4(cont.)

Listing 8-2: Assignment statements using character data

Evaluate Right (EvalR) Operation

To provide a right-justification option for character-string assignments, free-format RPG IV offers the EvalR (Evaluate right) operation. All other rules of evaluate are followed. EvalR is equivalent to the fixed-format Move(p) (move with pad) operation. As with Eval, the pad function is inherent in EvalR. Listing 8-2 includes some sample EvalR operations.

Eval Operation: IS,OC

That “IS,OC” isn’t a typographical error. It’s my attempt to create a new acronym for “Indicator Set, On Condition.” IBM brought us this new “sort of” assignment statement early in RPG IV. In one RPG statement, it lets us test a condition and have a specified indicator set to *On if the condition is true. If the condition is false, the indicator or named indicator is set to *Off.

The first term in this new expression must be an indicator or a named indicator. The indicator is set to *On or *Off based on the truth of the condition statement that follows the assignment operator (=). You can test any condition that yields a value of the indicator data type (true = *On, false = *Off). For example, the following statement sets named indicator Sfldsp:

Data-Manipulation Operations Using Free Format, Part 1 - Figure 5

It is equivalent to the following RPG code:

Data-Manipulation Operations Using Free Format, Part 1 - Figure 6

Evaluate vs. Move

The Move and MoveL operation codes have been staples of RPG since the language’s inception. However, free-format RPG IV doesn’t support these two operations, either as operation codes or as built-in functions. As you’ve seen, the evaluate operation provides an alternative to these operations in free-format RPG.

Many differences exist between evaluate and the move operations. You can easily convert most move and move left operations to Eval, but due to some fundamental differences in the way these operations work, there is no simple solution to converting some moves to an evaluate. Chapter 11 addresses the Move and MoveL problems in detail and provides solutions to common problems that you may encounter when converting to free format.

Next time: Part 2 - Built-in Functions. Can't wait?  You can pick up Jim Martin's book, Free-Format RPG IV: Third Edition at the MC Press Bookstore Today!


Jim Martin holds a BS degree in mathematics and an MS in computer science. For 26 years, he was employed by IBM, where he wrote RPG applications for customers and worked in the programming laboratory as a programmer on portions of CPF and the OS/400 operating system. After leaving IBM, Jim took post-graduate work in computer science and performed RPG training. He is an IBM-certified RPG IV developer and author of multiple bestselling editions of Free-Format RPG IV, which, since the book's initial publication in 2005, have taught thousands of RPG IV programmers how to be successful with the free-format coding style.

MC Press books written by Jim Martin available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Free-Format RPG IV: Third Edition Free-Format RPG IV: Third Edition
Improve productivity, readability, and program maintenance with the free-format style of programming in RPG IV.
List Price $59.95

Now On Sale

Free-Format RPG IV: Second Edition Free-Format RPG IV: Second Edition
>Make the transition from coding in fixed-format RPG to free format.
List Price $59.95

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Functions in Free-Format RPG IV Functions in Free-Format RPG IV
Here’s the ultimate guide to writing RPG IV programs with functions in the free-format style.
List Price $59.95

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