Guru: Use The Administration Runtime Expert To Validate Your Application Attributes
August 10, 2020 Dawn May
This third article in my series on using the Administration Runtime Expert (ARE) reviews how ARE can validate the attributes of your applications. This article assumes you have already learned the basics of how to use ARE from articles one and two.
There are an unlimited number of ways you can use ARE to validate application attributes. A few examples are:
- Verify application attributes on a single partition
- Verify application attributes are consistent across multiple partitions
- Verify application attributes in the test environment are the same as production
- Verify application authorities
When you are creating a template to validate application attributes, you will generally use the Files and Directories plugin. While it’s called “Files and Directories,” remember that QSYS.LIB exists within the IFS and you will be able to get at libraries and objects through this plugin.
As the name implies, File and Directory Attributes allows you select what attributes you want to verify. When you open the File and Directory Attributes task, you start by selecting whether you want to add files/directories or add libraries. Since this article is focusing on applications, we will look at verifying the objects in a library.
When you select the Add libraries button, you are prompted to enter the name of a library. When you specify your library, it will appear in the library view pane. By default, all objects in that library are selected for validation; you can optionally select a subset of the objects in the library to verify. You use the Specify library link to add as many libraries as desired. If you have independent ASPs, you have the option to select which IASP you want to use.
The basic verification includes the existence and type of object, the size, last modified, CCSID, and creation time. But there are many more attributes you can include by clicking the Additional attributes button. Additional attributes has a COMMON section, which are the attributes common across all object types. These attributes are those you can access by displaying object descriptions (e.g., QSYS2.OBJECT_STATISTICS). Other attributes are organized by object type and include attributes unique to those object types; for example, the attributes available via DSPPGM for program objects. The available attributes are extensive; think of this as a super-duper DSPOBJD.
There is also the ability to add filters. Filters use at least one wildcard (*) to either include or exclude objects from the verification. Filters give you a lot of flexibility in selecting what you want to validate. The Learn more… help has many examples.
In addition to attributes, you can also validate File and Directory Authorities; the user interface is similar to that of files and directories attributes.
ARE has the ability to correct authority issues. For example, I expect my program WATCH1 to have PUBLIC *EXCLUDE authority. The ARE summary report shows me that the *PUBLIC authorities are not as expected. For validations such as this, you will find there are Fix actions available.
Fixing problems is a two-step process. First, you must run the verification to identify any problems; the summary report will identify any issues that ARE can fix. You select the Fix actions link to review the items to fix. You select the items you want ARE to correct for you. A simple click on the Fix button and the object authorities are changed to their expected values.
Next, let’s take a look at Configuration Files. This option allows you to validate the contents of a configuration file, such as a property file where the contents of the file follow a key = value format. It also allows you to validate the contents of any XML file. As a simple example, perhaps you have a web server where you have specified several configuration directives and you want to ensure these directives are never changed. You navigate to the file of interest in the IFS, select the file, and add it to your collection. When you click the Update button, you are able to customize the fields you want to validate in the file. The edit link next to each value allows you to customize the verification.
Finally, let’s look at the Resource Collector. The Resource Collector allows you to collect information from the endpoint system that can be used for diagnostic purposes. You can collect files in the IFS, entire directories, and any IBM i object. For IBM i objects, you simply give ARE the IBM i save command to save the objects into a save file. ARE will package all of the requested resources into a single archive (zip) file.
The archive file is included in the overall zip file that is sent back to the central system. After you run the verification and review the reports, you will find that that you can Download Archive. This archive file is named arercReport.zip and will include the archive file created by the Resource Collector.
If you have IBM i objects that you saved from the target system, you will want to access that save file on your IBM i partition. You can locate the download archive file in the IFS; the general path name is of the format:
The variable parts of the path are:
- DawnGroup is the name of your system group that you ran the verification on.
- Next is the date and time of the verification; _M indicates manual verification. _S indicates a scheduled verification.
- The final part of the path name consists of the system name as specified in the console, followed by the template name (GuruDemo), user profile name (dawnm), and the verification number.
There’s an additional feature in ARE that I have not touched upon yet, and that is Runtime Properties, which is found on the main Console page. The Runtime Properties allow you to specify several items, which include a default user profile and the ability to enable email notifications. Email notifications are great when you have scheduled verifications, since the email is sent to you if there are warnings or errors, but if there are no problems in the verification, you do not receive the email. The email notification has a summary of the problems along with the arercReport.zip file of the reports. If you had enabled the Resource Collector in your verification, the zip file from the Resource Collector is also included.
All of the plugins reviewed in this article are part of the base ARE product. Couple these with the plugins reviewed in the article on Use the Administration Runtime Expert to Validate Your System Configuration and you have a very rich set of capabilities to verify both your environment and your applications. If the base ARE templates do not meet your needs, you can write your own plugins and have ARE do whatever you need.