Many of you may have already heard about or are currently using DB2 Web Query, the IBM i query and reporting product first made available in September 2007. But did you know that IBM also offers a companion product called the DB2 Web Query Software Development Kit (SDK)? This separate licensed program product was delivered at the end of 2008 in response to customer feedback. Many of our customers love the powerful reports and graphs they can create with DB2 Web Query. They also love the fact that DB2 Web Query runs natively on the IBM i and allows them to leave all of their data in DB2 for i. Many developers, however, needed a way to seamlessly integrate the reports and graphs into their own applications. This is exactly what the SDK lets you do. The SDK provides a set of functions (API-like interfaces) that are actually Web services accessible via SOAP, the industry standard for service orientated architecture (SOA). If you’re familiar with Web services, you already know that this means easy, quick and reliable application integration.
Application developers can add these function calls to their programs and greatly extend the application’s capabilities. By providing users with direct access to these cool reports and graphs, the overall end-user experience can be significantly enhanced. The functions provided in the SDK also allow application developers to completely build their own Web Query interfaces such as Web launch pages or dashboards. To give you some ideas on how you might use the SDK, here are some of the tasks that the SDK functions enable your applications to perform:
- Log into DB2 Web Query–this allows you to either have user profiles log in as themselves or provide a single (hidden) user profile and password. If you want, you could even build your own application-level security model to access the DB2 Web Query content.
- Retrieve the list of reports and graphs in a specific domain and folder–this information can be used to build your own managed reporting interface to display to your end users
- Retrieve the parameter definitions for a report and build the prompt controls to display to your users
- Retrieve field values to populate drop-down lists, radio buttons, etc., to be used as input parameters for the prompt controls
- Run a DB2 Web Query report and save the output to a folder on the IFS. From here, you can do anything you want with the report: present it to your users, feed it into another process (particularly if in XML format), e-mail it or FTP it to another location.
- Drill down into a linked report or graph
Some functions even let you interface with DB2 Web Query Report Broker, the automated scheduling and distribution system, so you can programmatically run a Report Broker schedule directly from another application or process such as a database trigger. For example, whenever inventory levels fall below a defined threshold, the database trigger would fire, a Report Broker schedule would run, an inventory report would be immediately e-mailed to the purchasing manager, and a disaster would be averted. With the Report Broker SDK functions, you can also dynamically override the report’s defined output format at run time. For example, a report that’s defined to go to HTML output could instead be generated as a PDF document or Excel spreadsheet.
Use of the SDK isn’t limited to Web or rich client applications. You can even call the functions from RPG and COBOL applications running in a 5250 environment. This means, for example, that users can run reports from a 5250 screen by pressing a function key or entering a command. By displaying the location of the report somewhere on the 5250 screen and setting up URL hot spots in their emulation sessions, users are a click away from displaying that report in HTML, PDF and Excel spreadsheet formats.
If you’re an application developer and are interested in DB2 Web Query integration, you might find the following links helpful:
Gene Cobb wrote this week’s blog post. Gene is a DB2 for i technology specialist in the IBM DB2 for i development team and was a co-author of the IBM Redbooks publication, “Getting Started with DB2 Web Query for IBM i.” Thanks, Gene!
This blog post was originally published on IBMSystemsMag.com and is reproduced here by permission of IBM Systems Media.