Programmer's Guide to iSeries Navigator

Programmer's Guide to iSeries Navigator

by Paul Touhy


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781583470473
Publisher: Mc Press
Publication date: 02/01/2006
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.78(d)

About the Author

Paul Tuohy has worked with IBM developing and teaching courses in programming and application development, and is one of the quoted industry experts in the IBM Redbook Who Knew You Could Do That with RPG IV? He is an award-winning speaker at a number of COMMON U.S. Conferences and works as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) with COMMON U.S. He is a regular contributor to the website and writes for iSeries Experts Journal.

Read an Excerpt

The Programmer's Guide to iSeries Navigator

By Paul Touhy

MC Press

Copyright © 2008 MC Press Online, LP
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-58347-728-1


Getting Started

Do you remember when you first signed onto an iSeries? There was that strange sense of familiarity and newness. I was reminded of it when I first started iSeries Navigator. The sense of familiarity occurred for two reasons: Navigator has a Windows Explorer-style interface and the listed items are obviously related to the iSeries. The sense of newness was because iSeries items somehow do not look quite right in an Explorer-style window!

It takes a bit of getting used to, but you soon will be finding your way around iSeries Navigator just as easily as you find your way around a 5250 screen.

You might as well start with the basics of how Navigator works and how to move from function to function. It doesn't take that long to learn where to point and click.

Navigating Navigator

Figure 1.1 shows the result of starting iSeries Navigator and extending the name of your iSeries server (of course, the name of your server will be different). It is a standard Explorer-style interface with a menu, a toolbar, a hierarchy tree (on the left), and a detail pane (on the right) showing the details of the entry selected in the hierarchy tree. A taskpad also appears at the end of the window, containing two task panes; My Tasks (on the left) and a system task pane (on the right).

Scroll bars (up/down and left/right) are available when the contents of a pane exceed the display size.

Basic navigation is achieved by selecting (mouse click) or expanding (click on the '+') an item in the hierarchy tree; the detail pane lists the details of the item selected. An item then may be selected in the detail pane.

Options are available for any selected item, and many ways exist to get the same result, as with most Windows applications. In Navigator, an option may be available on the menu, on a toolbar, in a task pane, or on a context menu (by right clicking on an item). You experience this same concept in 5250 emulation, in that you can run a command by entering the command on a command line, selecting menu options from the main menu, or entering a generic command name to get a list of possible commands and then selecting one.

The menu, the toolbar, and the system task pane are sensitive to the item you select in the hierarchy pane; in other words, the options available are dependant on what you select. Figure 1.2 shows the File menu options and the system task pane options available when you select Basic Operations -> Messages in the hierarchy tree; compare this to the File menu options and the system task pane options available when you select Database -> DatabaseName, as shown in Figure 1.3.

Figure 1.4 shows the corresponding toolbar and context menu for Basic Operations -> Messages and Figure 1.5 shows those for Database -> DatabaseName.

Navigator "greys out" those items that are not available, as shown for some of the toolbar options and the Properties option on the menu in Figure 1.4.

The items listed on a menu can depend on your security clearance. For example, the context menu for Security lists an item for Configure only if your profile has a special authority of * SECOFR (Security Officer).

In other instances, it appears as if Navigator permits you access to functions that you would not have authority to in a 5250 session. For example, if you select any of the system values under Configuration and Service -> System Values, it appears that you are being permitted to change the value — until you click OK and receive a message telling you that you are not authorized to the Change System Value (CHGSYSVAL) command.


The taskpad is the closest you get to menus in a 5250 session. The system task pane shows a menu of options that are available for the selected item in the hierarchy tree. The My Tasks pane shows a list of your own personal options.

You can customize the My Tasks pane (on the left) by selecting Add to "My Tasks" or Customize Taskpad from the context menu of any item in the taskpad, as shown in Figure 1.6. The My Tasks pane in Figure 1.6 also shows the result of having items added to the My Tasks pane.

As time progresses, and you become familiar with Navigator, you may find the system pane surplus to your requirements. You can choose not to display it by selecting Customize Taskpad from the context menu of any item in the taskpad, selecting the View tab, and selecting Display "My Tasks" only, as shown in Figure 1.7.

The resulting view, showing only the My Tasks pane, is shown in Figure 1.8.

Then again, maybe you aren't one for menu options, and you would sooner not have a task pane at all. Simply select View from the menu and deselect the Taskpad option, as shown in Figure 1.9. The resulting view, without the taskpad, is shown in Figure 1.10. You get a larger hierarchy and detail pane by not having a Taskpad.

To ensure that you see the maximum amount of information available throughout the remainder of the book, the Taskpad will not be included in the screen captures of iSeries Navigator windows.

Of course, the taskpad can be restored by simply reversing the procedure.


In 5250 sessions, you are used to the powerful help features available, in which help is never more then an F1 key way. Navigator is no different; simply press the F1 key to get the help window shown in Figure 1.11. Or, you can select Help -> Help Topics from the menu.

Navigator's help system is very powerful. Selecting the "What can I do with ...?" option displays the window shown in Figure 1.12. The expandable list matches the hierarchy tree shown for a server connection; selecting an item results in the corresponding help being displayed. As you would expect, all the help is hyperlinked.

Just as in a 5250 session, context help also is available. Figure 1.13 shows the window for sending a message. Pressing the Help button or clicking the '?' and pointing and clicking on an item in the window results in a Help Window similar to the one shown in Figure 1.14 being displayed.

Navigator's help system provides more information about what you are trying to do, as compared with the usual "What is this?" style help; note the "How do I ...", "Tell me about ...", and "More Information ..." links in the hierarchy tree in Figure 1.14.

Using Navigator

A few options of iSeries Navigator are common to nearly all features. Most of these are explained in detail as you use them throughout the book, but it is worth having a brief look at the basic principles.


The details pane always has a title above it that explains the details of what is displayed. The Title in Figure 1.15 shows that messages are being listed from the system iseries. comcon. com for the user Tuohyp.

The contents of the title will change as you select different items in the hierarchy tree.

The time displayed just above the title is an indication of how old the contents of the details pane are. Figure 1.15 indicates that the messages in the message file were originated 20 minutes ago.

The contents of the detail pane can be updated by pressing F5, selecting Refresh from the View menu option or selecting the Refresh icon on the toolbar. (Or, you can have the contents automatically refreshed — read on.)

Customize this View

The context menu of nearly every item in the hierarchy tree has an option to Customize this View which, in turn, has sub-options for Sort, Columns, Include, and Auto Refresh. These four options always are listed and, if one is not applicable, it is simply "greyed out," as shown in Figure 1.16. Also note how the Include and Columns options can be activated using the F11 and F12 keys.

The Sort, Columns, and Include options are explained for different options in detail in Chapter 2. Although the Sort option does allow you to define complex sort criteria for a list in the details pane, you always can perform a simple sort by clicking on a column heading. Subsequent clicking on a column heading will switch the sort sequence between ascending and descending.

It is worth having a look at the Auto Refresh option. Figure 1.17 shows the refresh options for messages. The default option is to Use automatic refresh options from parent folder, which means that setting a refresh option at a higher level in the hierarchy tree will normally result in the same refresh options applying to all options that are lower in the hierarchy tree. The other options are to specify those details that are refreshed every time the function is selected in the hierarchy tree or to have the contents automatically refreshed at the specified time interval. The default time interval differs for different options.

Menu and Toolbar Options

Although a few of the menu and toolbar options will change depending on what you have selected in the hierarchy tree, a few options are always available.

Select File -> Print from the menu to print the list currently shown in the details pane. This is a Windows print option, as opposed to an iSeries option, so the listing is directed to the PC printer of your choice, as shown in Figure 1.18. You also can get a preview of the listing by selecting File -> Print Preview from the menu. (I wish these features were available in Windows Explorer.)

Use Edit -> Find from the menu (or CTRL+F) to search the list in the details pane. The Find window is shown in Figure 1.19.

You can use the Large icons, Small icons, List, and Details options from the View menu option to determine the format for items listed in the details pane. Figure 1.20 shows a Large icons view of messages. My own preference is for Details, but you should use whichever view you prefer.

Select View -> User Preferences to change some of the defaults to make your use of iSeries Navigator easier. The User Preferences window is shown in Figure 1.21, but it is best to determine what your preferences are after you have seen what you can do in the rest of the book.


At times, you will select an option in iSeries Navigator and decide that it is taking too long to get the desires results. Select View -> Cancel Request from the menu or select the Cancel Request icon on the toolbar to stop the current running request.

That Was Easy!

iSeries Navigator is just like any other Explorer-style window, with the optional addition of a taskpad to provide menu options.

You are ready to start using it!


Basic Functions

The Basic Operations and Work Management options in iSeries Navigator allow you to perform the same basic functions that you perform in a 5250 session: display and send messages, work with spool files and printers, and work with jobs and queues. These are the day-to-day commands that you issue without a second thought, and it is just as easy in Navigator.

Here, you start to see the benefits and the disadvantages of Navigator. Do not let the disadvantages dissuade you; they are far outweighed by the benefits. Navigator offers solutions to some annoyances, such as easily finding spool files or viewing reports in WYSIWIG as opposed to having blank lines removed; 5250 sessions still offer benefits in the speed of opening spool files and processing the same option for multiple items.

Remember, the idea is to become competent in using both Navigator and 5250 sessions, not to replace 5250 sessions with Navigator.

Basic Operations provides options for Messages, Printer Output, Printers, and Jobs. The Printers option is of little interest to programmers, unless you happen to be a programmer who starts and stops printers, but you should become familiar with the other three options.

Although iSeries Navigator is a GUI interface, it does provide the ability to run commands directly. You can even prompt commands. The only proviso is that you cannot run a command that results in information being displayed, because you do not have a 5250 session.

Work Management provides options for Active Jobs, Server Jobs, Job Queues, Output Queues, Subsystems, and Memory Pools. Memory Pools are not normally of interest to programmers, but the other options may be. Work Management is usually of more interest to administrators and operators, and it may well be that you are not permitted to use any of the Work Management functions. However, if you are used to using commands like Work with Active Jobs (WRKACTJOB), Work with Output Queues (WRKOUTQ), Work with Job Queues (WRKJOBQ), and Work with Subsystems, you may find these functions useful.

And, on top of all of that you also have the GUI equivalent of Work with System Status (WRKSYSSTS).

Printer Output

The Printer Output function provides the same basic functionality as the Work with Spool File (WRKSPLF) command. Selecting Basic Operations -> Printer Output displays a list of all the spool files for your user profile, as shown in Figure 2.1. Note the title bar above the column heading in the detail pane, which indicates the user profile.

The context menu (also shown in Figure 2.1) for a spool file lists the options available. Here's that feeling of déjà vu again: a correspondence is obvious between the options available in Navigator and those on the WRKSPLF display. Table 2.1 shows the Navigator option and the corresponding option in WRKSPLF; WRKSPLF option numbers are shown in brackets, along with the required command keywords where relevant.

Viewing Spool Files

In Figure 2.1, the Open option has a bold type; this indicates that it is the default action if you double-click a spool file. Double clicking a spool file opens it in the AFP Workbench for Windows Viewer, as shown in Figure 2.2.

The AFP Viewer has a few advantages over displaying a spool file in a 5250 session:

* The display is WYSIWIG. What you see in the window is what you will see when the report prints. Have you ever tried to figure out where blank lines are in a report -> In the viewer, you see the blank lines.

* From the viewer you can print to any printer recognized by your PC (File -> Print). You are not confined to an output queue on your iSeries.

* You can search the spool file for a string (Search -> Find or F5, Search -> Find Next, or Ctrl F), just as you can in WRKSPLF. But in the viewer, you have the option of indicating if the search is case sensitive.

* You can choose to view the spool file using different page sizes (View -> Get View and/or View -> Page Size).

* You can copy and paste more than one screen of data at a time.

* Scroll bars, Next, and Previous buttons offer simple navigation of the spool file. You can easily jump to any page using Search -> Go To.

* You can use the View -> Zoom option to make the spool file easier (or more difficult) to read. (I have been using this option a lot in recent months!)

* The toolbar offers fast options for Zoom, Search, and basic navigation.

The major disadvantage of the viewer is speed. In a 5250 emulation session, when you take option 5 for a spool file and press Enter, the result is instantaneous. Using the viewer, the response time depends on the size of the spool file, how big your PC is, how many other windows are open, and how busy the network is — after all, the spool file does have to be copied to your PC.


You can use drag-and-drop to move one or more spool files. For example, you can highlight a number of spool files (use the Ctrl or Shift Key in conjunction with the mouse) and drag and drop them to one of the printer queues under Printers.


Excerpted from The Programmer's Guide to iSeries Navigator by Paul Touhy. Copyright © 2008 MC Press Online, LP. Excerpted by permission of MC Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Getting Started
Chapter 2: Basic Functions
Chapter 3: File Systems
Chapter 4: Simple Database Features
Chapter 5: Advanced Database Features
Chapter 6: Referential Integrity and Triggers
Chapter 7: User-Defined Functions and Stored Procedures
Chapter 8: Get the Picture
Chapter 9: Pros and Cons
Chapter 10: Management Central
Chapter 11: Other Items of Interest
Chapter 12: Summary
Appendix A: Install and Configure iSeries Navigator
Appendix B: Make the Database

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