DRV Cleans Up i OS Spool Files with ReportFlex
June 24, 2008 Alex Woodie
Making sense of i OS spooled file output can be an exercise in technical aptitude and patience. Lines wrap, words overlap, and obscure abbreviations can make trying to read a report a challenge. To address this situation, DRV Technologies, a developer of electronic forms and spool file distribution tools for i system, recently introduced a new product called ReportFlex that acts as a converter to make native spooled file output more readable to the average person.
You probably know DRV Technologies best for SpoolFlex, the spool file distribution tool used by hundreds of i, i5/OS, and OS/400 shops. SpoolFlex reduces their dependency on printers by automatically grabbing spool files off their systems, converting them into popular formats like PDF, HTML, or Excel, and distributing them electronically, via e-mail, fax, or posting them to a central server. In 2005, the Georgia software company introduced a forms overlay product called FormFlex to spruce up customers’ business correspondence with charts, logos, and other graphical elements.
While pictures and PDFs are nice, DRV recognized those options don’t go far enough in making reports easier to read. When the underlying data and formatting of the SCS spool file output isn’t clear, converting the reports into PDF or Excel or applying a forms overlay, is not necessarily going to give the customer the results they were expecting.
This is why DRV developed ReportFlex. The software, which was introduced earlier this month, functions as a report re-formatter that transforms the layout and content of spooled file output to better prepare the underlying content for conversion into other formats like Excel or PDF, or in preparation for a graphical forms overlay. The software also trims the 132-column width of reports to make the output look better on modern laser printers.
ReportFlex does this by giving users low-level control over their reports, but without programming. It allows them to move lines or fields, to perform calculations on spooled data, and to remove unnecessary data or add new data. Users can change column headings, insert spaces between columns, and insert page breaks. It lets customers find and replace text strings (such as converting “CUST” with “customer”), or use the “repeat values” function, which is very useful for sorting through reports after they have been converted to Excel, DRV says.
Multi-line records can be reformatted into single-line records. Subtotal and total lines can be added where none existed before. Detail lines can be moved up a line and placed between two columns, pushing the columns to the right, or appended to the previous lines. Fields can be masked to protect data such as social security numbers.
System i shops should realize they no longer must live with the rigid output of their legacy systems, says DRV Technologies CEO and president Richard Voss. “With ReportFlex, those organizations now have the ability to assemble their System i (i5, iSeries, AS/400) reports in any format they choose, including the masking of certain data, making reading, converting, merging, and distributing reports so much easier,” he says.
ReportFlex functions as a standalone product, or it can be used with DRV Technologies’ SpoolFlex to convert the spooled output and then distribute it electronically.
ReportFlex is available now. Licenses cost between $995 and $2,995. For more information, visit www.drvtech.com.