ProData’s New DBUnifier Creates Interactive Apps in a Jiffy
January 11, 2005 Alex Woodie
ProData Computer Services recently announced the general availability of DBUnifier, a new menu-driven tool for creating interactive applications from DB2/400 database files, without any programming. With the capability to create selection lists (F4-lists processes), work with subfile processes, and create inquiry and file maintenance applications with field- and record-level validation, ProData says, DBUnifier gives OS/400 shops a reason to send IBM‘s Data File Utility packing.
Omaha, Nebraska, based ProData put itself on the AS/400 map many years ago with its Database Utility (DBU) product, which provides programmers with an easy way to work with data in the DB2/400 database. More than 15,000 companies in 31 different countries have bought DBU over the years, according to ProData, making DBU a very successful product.
With DBUnifier, ProData has taken DBU’s database capability to the next level. In addition to being able to access, view, and alter DB2/400 files directly (what DBU offers in a nutshell), with DBUnifier, ProData is now enabling developers to build entire new applications from any given DB2/400 file, complete with new data entry screens and field- and record-level validation.
Creating a DBUnifier Application is a matter of following the series of on-screen displays that walk you through the process of defining and saving an application. After giving your new application a name and a library, you can start to create it. First you tell DBUnifier which database file you want to display or maintain in your application, either by typing in the name or by choosing from a list.
Next, you define your results. After giving your new result field a name, you type in an expression, using as many operands and values as you can fit into the three lines provided. DBUnifier then prompts you for the next step, which is defining your initial multi-record display, or subfile. After this, you’re taken to the “Define Screen Options” page, where you define the columns, give the screen dimensions, and define what you want shown at the top and the bottom of the screen.
Defining the screen field details is the next step in the DBUnifier development process. Here you name the individual fields, define how many characters and decimal places they can have, specify whether this is input or output, and then tell it the order in which you want the fields to appear in your final application. The next screen, called “Define Screen Layout,” is where you fine-tune the look of your new DBUnifier screen by defining where the fields and labels are going to appear. You can also check the final appearance of the new application with the “Display Screen Layout” option.
Creating an interactive application is good, but how do you ensure certain rules are followed? With DBUnifier’s support for field-level validation, you can be sure that your new application isn’t introducing bad data into your database. DBUnifier supports the capability to assign validations and other special characteristics to individual fields.
The “Extended Attributes” command key lets DBUnifier programmers enter the “Define Extended Field Attributes” display for a given sequence prompt. Here you can control whether to allow lowercase characters, to define what the initial value of a field should be, and to assign an associated Prompt Program (when F4 is used for prompts) or other DBUnifier application to be used. You can even instruct certain validity checks to be performed against user input, including relational operators (where input has to match certain conditions), ranges, lists of values, and validation against an externally described database.
Finally, you can define exit programs that will be executed at certain points during processing of your DBUnifier applications. The guide lets you choose between programs to be called before data is displayed, and programs to be called before database records are updated.
At any time, you can re-enter the Work With DBUnifier Applications menu to update, activate, and delete your DBUnifier applications. You can also have the DBUnifier Processor called from any high-level language, including RPG IV, RPG/400, RPG, COBOL, and CL programs.
DBUnifier supports V4R2 and later versions of OS/400. Licenses cost $1,995 per iSeries. For more information and trial downloads, go to www.prodatacomputer.com.