Query/400 Alternative from BCD Enhances BI Capabilities
May 12, 2009 Dan Burger
Want to see your stock rise? Just design some real-time Web reports, queries, and executive dashboards. Delivering IBM i information to the people who want it–when they want it and in the format they want it–could be very profitable for your career. Business Computer Design, Int’l, better known as BCD, has made some IT department heroes since introducing its query and reporting tool, Clover, in 2005. The latest enhancements to Clover are now available.
With Clover 1.6, which was announced at the COMMON 2009 Annual Meeting and Expo two weeks ago, BCD has added the capability to import query definitions from IBM Query/400 and output them as real-time Web reports, graphs, and spreadsheets. For companies with a boatload of existing reports that have been defined in IBM’s 20-year-old query tool, Clover opens the gates to reporting the way upper-level management wants it to be. With all of the “we want it done yesterday” demands being placed on IT personnel, this is an opportunity to give your boss the “no problem” answer that he’s been waiting to hear.
The key to reports that include such expected features as totals, subtotals, level breaks, drill downs, and graphs are Clover’s templates that get early productivity out of deployments by diminishing, and practically eliminating, installation hassles and lengthy learning curves. But templates are not the beginning and the end of Clover’s versatility. The software also has advanced reporting features to handle such things as dynamic library lists, change management, prompting for runtime values for record selection, and the capability to call back-end RPG programs or reports, with control over the appearance of the reports.
A higher degree of customization is possible using the codeless SQL wizard, a graphical, drag-and-drop interface that guides users through the writing and testing of SQL statements that pull data from the DB2/400 database. This involves choosing a template, then following the wizard prompts through a process that includes selecting files to include in the report, defining how the files are joined and sorted, selecting level breaks for subtotals and the fields that should be subtotaled, choosing simple or complex conditions for record selections, and defining chart and graph captions.
When it comes to managing reports, whether they are imported from Query/400 definitions or those created in Clover, BCD has a license-free portal that is hosted on the IBM i. It provides a secure login to shield reports from unauthorized access and can also be used to control access to Web applications, Web pages, and documents. It also includes free productivity tools such as a spool file viewer, 5250 emulator, calendar, to do lists, and document management. BCD calls its portal product Nexus.
According to a BCD customer poll involving 80 organizations that own an IBM i, the average number of Query/400 queries in these shops was between 200 and 500. Ten percent of the organizations had more than 1,000 queries. The survey also revealed that “most of these shops” are looking to move beyond the limited output options of Query/400, which can only output reports as spool files, database files, or send them to a printer. BCD customers agree with the System i community at larger that report design options using Query/400 vary between slim and none.
Other responses from the survey that BCD noted indicated that retaining query definitions was a high priority, because rewriting query definitions is considered unacceptable, and although “some shops” had already looked at IBM’s Query/400 replacement offering–IBM DB2 Web Query–they were not satisfied with it.