Admin Alert: To Each Its Own in Spooled File Management
July 27, 2005 Joe Hertvik
Long-time OS/400 users understand that green screen commands can provide efficient ways to manage OS/400 objects, especially printouts. But smart administrators also know that IBM‘s iSeries Navigator graphical management tool can up the ante on spooled file management, providing additional flexibility not usually found on the green screen. This week, let’s review OS/400’s graphical and command-line functions for spool file management and see how they contrast and complement each other.
The heart of green screen spool file management lies in the commands found in the Spooled File Commands menu, which can be accessed through the following Go to Menu command (GO):
This menu contains a number of green screen options for dealing with spooled files, including commands to change, copy, delete, display, hold, release, change attributes, and send spooled files to another system.
In my experience, many of these spooled file commands are best used in CL programming, where they can affect processing on recently produced printer output files. These commands are extremely useful for batch processing, and they are also very handy when used in certain client server programming techniques that require the ability to manipulate printed output.
The problem with using spooled file commands outside of the batch-client server environment is that many of the commands require specific information that you usually do not have at your fingertips. For example, if I wanted to interactively delete some old spooled files by using the Delete Spooled Files command (DLTSPLF), I would have to be very specific regarding which user, job, or time period I wanted to delete the spooled files for. And there are limited capabilities for finding specific output files in a large list or output queue. As a result, it’s easy to accidentally delete more spool files than you had intended to.
For interactive green screen jobs, many people wind up working with spool files when reviewing them by job or by user in the following situations:
- By choosing option 4, Work with Job Spooled Files, inside a Work with Job command (WRKJOB). WRKJOB is automatically invoked when you display a job through several other ‘Work with’ commands, such as WRKSBMJOB, WRKACTJOB, WRKJOB, and WRKUSRJOB. Once inside the Work with Job Spooled Files screen, you can perform a number of functions on individual spooled files by entering an option number (1=send, 2=change, 3=Hold, 4=Delete, etc) in front of the spool files you want to work with.
- By using the Work with Spooled Files command (WRKSPLF) to list out all the spooled files for one or all of your users. You can also subset a WRKSPLF list according to specific print characteristics attached to each file. Like option 4 in the WRKJOB command, once you identify your target spooled file, you can also perform all the standard functions (send, change, delete, etc) on that file.
While people have become very good at using the WRKJOB and WRKSPLF commands through repetition, I have always found that green screen commands can be somewhat limited in searching and acting on individual spooled files, particularly when you’re dealing with a large number of files produced by a user or a job. These commands work great when you only want to delete, change, or move a small number of spooled files. They become much more burdensome when dealing with several hundred pieces of printer output.
And that’s where iSeries Navigator (OpsNav) comes in. Because it’s a graphical–rather than a command line–interface, OpsNav allows a user or system administrator to perform several functions that aren’t possible with a green screen command. These options include improved capabilities for selecting spooled files to work with, sorting spooled file lists by several different parameters, and performing operations on large groups of files. For this article, I tested these functions using the OpsNav program that comes with iSeries Access for Windows V5R3M0; there may be some small differences in earlier versions of OpsNavs but most of the functions should still be available in those versions. To use these features, you must also sign on as a user who has Spool Control (*SPLCTL) authority.
You can manipulate spooled files in iSeries Navigator by double-clicking on the Basic Operations-Printer Output node under your target system. By default, this action brings up a list of all of the spooled files that were generated under the user ID you opened your OpsNav target system under. These files are presented as a standard Windows list showing the file name, user-specific data, user name, status of the spooled file, the output queue each spooled file resides in, and a few other pieces of information. Once you get used to dealing with your output in a Windows environment, you will find all kinds of cool functions in OpsNav that you just cannot easily perform in a green screen environment, including:
- The ability to sort spooled output by nine different criteria, including output queue, number of pages, status, and user-specific data. To do this, right click on the Basic Operations-Printer Output node and select Customize this View, Sort from the pop-up menu that appears. You can also sort spooled files on the fly by clicking on the column heading that you want to sort on in your printer output screen.
- The ability to select printer output from a variety of sources, including from multiple users, printers, output queues, jobs, dates and times, and the status of your spooled files. When you right-click on Basic Operations-Printer Output and select Customize this View, Include from the pop-up menu, you can produce a subset of available printer output from a fairly complete set of options. And for the Users, Output Queues, and Printers selections, you can click on a Browse button that allows you to select and combine spooled file information from a number of users, printers, or output queues in the same list.
- The ability to change and order the columns that are shown for your customized spooled file listing. You do this by right-clicking on Basic Operations-Printer Output and selecting Customize this View, Columns from the pop-up menu.
- The ability to select multiple spool files to delete, move to another output queue, or to perform other functions on. Like any other Windows list, you can select a number of spooled files by holding down the Shift or CTRL keys as you make your choices. Once you have made your selections, right-click on the list and a pop-up menu appears. Here you can tell OpsNav to Hold, Release, Send, Move, or Delete all those spooled files as a group. This is very handy for managing a large number of spooled files as a whole.
- The ability to print a spooled file directly to a local Windows or network printer. You do this by double-clicking on a spool file to open it and then selecting File, Print from the menu bar, the same way you would print any other Windows report.
OpsNav’s Printer Output function gives you an incredible amount of flexibility in selecting, viewing, and managing spooled files, making it much easier than trying to perform the same tasks by using the green screen commands. This is not to say that using OpsNav is better than using the green screen commands; it just offers a different set of capabilities. Generally speaking, both the green screen and OpsNav functionalities have their own particular strengths in spool file management, which, in my opinion, are the following:
- The green screen commands are excellent for managing output that is created through batch programs or through remote programs that can call OS/400 commands. Their ability to deal with spooled files created in the current job make them invaluable in directing output to its proper place. The WRKJOB and WRKSPLF commands are also handy for allowing users and administrators to locate and manipulate their output, but they are generally not as flexible as the OpsNav Printer Output function. Spooled files can sometimes be manipulated as a group through green screen commands, but there is no function for combining and working with spooled files from several different users on one screen.
- OpsNav’s Printer Output function excels at interactive processing for locating and manipulating spooled files as a group. It easily combines output from several different sources on one screen, and spooled files from different jobs and users can be processed as a group, making it easier to view and dispose of a lot of printouts at one time. Its’ big weakness is that it is a purely interactive feature that offers very little for batch or remote processing.
So to each his own in spooled file management, and OS/400 offers two sets of excellent tools for getting the job done.