Help/Systems’ SEQUEL Gets More BI Tooling
June 17, 2008 Alex Woodie
Help/Systems launched a new release of SEQUEL last week that will give users more reasons to use it as a business intelligence tool. With a new Gauge Wizard in SEQUEL version 9.0, adding graphical representations of data through speedometers and dials is a matter of making a few mouse clicks. Better integration with Help’s i OS-based job scheduler and Google Maps highlight this iterative release of the popular and multipurpose tool.
SEQUEL has so many uses, it must be difficult at times for the folks at Help/Systems to figure out how to market it to potential users. The software, which was the crown jewel of Help’s acquisition of Chicago-based Advanced Systems Concepts (ASC) two year ago, can be used as a programmer productivity tool, a form design and report output tool, a database conversion tool, or a Web enablement tool, among other uses.
“SEQUEL can be used for many different things,” says Tom Huntington, vice president of technical services for the Eden Prairie, Minnesota, company. “Business intelligence seems to be the best fit for categorizing it.”
But owing to SEQUEL’s long heritage as an ad hoc query and reporting tool for the IBM i OS (formerly OS/400) midrange server line, Help/Systems usually elects to focus attention on the product’s strong business intelligence capabilities, including drill-down and OLAP data cube management. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that SEQUEL can perform all sorts of data access tasks on DB2/400 systems (not to mention SQL Server, Oracle, and MySQL databases) that may not fall within the traditional boundaries of business intelligence.
With the launch of version 9 last week, Help is boosting SEQUEL’s reputation as a business intelligence tool. The software has long supported the capability to build executive dashboard interfaces, via the optional ViewPoint component. Version 9 adds a new Gauge Wizard that makes it easier to develop gauges, such as speedometers, thermometers, and dials, to help executives and managers monitor critical indicators, as reflected in their business data.
Another handy new feature in version 9 is the capability to open results directly in an Excel spreadsheet. The new plug-in installs on a user’s Excel interface and enables a user to open an existing SEQUEL table or view in Excel, without first having to run a view or create a file.
The new Excel plug-in will come in very handy for spreadsheet junkies who absolutely need to have their DB2/400 data laid out before them in Excel, so they can play around with the data and exploit Excel’s rich graphical capabilities to create all kinds of graphs and tables.
Help/Systems also added a new interface to Robot/SCHEDULE, its job scheduling software for the i-based Power Systems server (formerly System i). Users previously were able to integrate the two products, but it required more work. With the new interface, it’s easier to submit SEQUEL output as batch jobs.
Also improved with this release is SEQUEL’s interface to Google Maps, which was first introduced in the fall of 2006. With SEQUEL 9, Help/Systems has introduced a new Google Wizard to streamline the creation of objects required to integrate SEQUEL data into Google Maps. The integration between the two products enables users to dynamically generate maps or create routes based on zip codes, addresses, or geographical coordinates that may be stored in i OS-based applications.
Last but not least are improvements to SEQUEL’s powerful CL-like scripting environment with version 9. Help/Systems says it’s easier than ever to use programming structures like loops, internal variables, conditional logic, and error monitoring with its SEQUEL scripts.
SEQUEL version 9 is available now. Pricing was not provided by the company. For more information, visit www.helpsystems.com.