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TAATOOL: Useful tools for programmers on IBM i

Over 2,000 APIs are available for the AS/400 in the TAATOOL set. The list grows as more programmers submit their tools, making the IBM i more efficient on a daily basis. If you are struggling to find a way to do something on your iSeries, TAATOOLs might have the answers you seek.

There's a time when all programmers reach for a utility belt for something we need to get done quickly – ok, there...

might be lots of times we do this, like daily. To help us out, there's a cornucopia of tools available from Jim Sloan. He has been writing them since the beginning of the iSeries (and he knows more about APIs than all of us). The finesse of his tools, known as TAATOOL is incredible, in part because Jim uses these tools himself.

My employer and I are at the mercy of the IBM I, and TAATOOL has many things we may need on a daily basis. Like

  • Archiving spool files
  • Expanding auditing options
  • Searching system log history
  • Expanding RPG tools (especially APIs)
  • Playing a game
  • Using a business calendar
  • Plus many more tools

There are over 2,000 tools with more added as the days go by. These tools were part of the operating system before Version 3. But, because of limitations of how IBM distributed them, the tools eventually became less useful. In 1992, IBM and Jim Sloan Inc. agreed to maintain the tools, and breathe new life into them. Since that point, there have been countless additions that further enhance the system.

Have you ever needed to

Convert certain "work" with displays to a file?

  • WRKACTJOB – meet CVTWRKACT – which places the work with active jobs output into a file
  • DSPJOBLOG – meet CVTJOBLOG – which place the job log into a database file.
  • NETSTAT – meet CVTNETSTAT – which places the network statistics into a file.
  • Wrklnk – meet CVTIFS – which places a directory into a database file!!

Retrieve interactive information from the system?

  • RTVACTSBS – Retrieve active subsystems into a large field for use
  • RTVDBR – Retrieve database relations
  • RTVDLTRCD – Retrieve deleted records into another file – (certain restrictions apply to this command – please look at the documentation)
  • Get a handle on IFS objects
  • CVTIFS – see above…
  • Checking IFS object existence

In addition, there are systems built into TAATOOL that perform tasks you probably need to do

  • Spool Control System – management tools for spool files
  • Job Log Control system – management tools for job logs

I can't help but feel like a guy selling the ShamWow® – but this stuff is truly amazing. If one tool doesn't do what you want, combine two or three of these gems.

A project I recently completed using TAATOOL needed to end and restart Apache Web servers cleanly and timely.

My program:

  • Ended all the Web servers
  • Used CVTWRKACT – for the QHTTPSVR subsystem - TAATOOL
  • Asked: Is the Apache server job still active?
  • Then repeat until completed
  • If the servers haven't ended within a certain period of time, a command will perform ENDJOBABN – or end job abnormally within the specified period of time – this used the ENDSBS2 command – TAATOOL

The project then needed to monitor connections on the Web system. If the connections build too quickly, I needed a message sent to me:

  • CVTNETSTAT – convert net statistics – TAATOOL
  • Using an RPG program, and an SQL statement, I look for criteria, document this criteria, then send messages based on limits I've set. Too many connections building up, I get a page on my cell phone crying for help.

Just think – how many times have you thought to yourself "gee I wish my iSeries could do this." Well, it may be doing it right now, and faster than you realize. The icing on the cake is that Jim Sloan challenges people to give him new tool ideas! If you succeed – he rewards you with a new tool. He has a contest to reward you as well: New Tool - $1,000!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrew Borts is webmaster at United Auto Insurance Group in North Miami, Fla. He is often a frequent speaker at COMMON and is past president of The Southern National Users Group, an iSeries-AS/400 user group based in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

This was last published in August 2009

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