For Windows managers, it can be confusing knowing how to post IBM i report data directly to Windows servers or how to send it to your users. While there are several techniques for converting IBM reports for external usage, there are also some IBM i-specific methods you need to be aware of.
Here’s a three-step guide for non-IBM i managers on delivering IBM i reports directly to a Windows server or sending them to your off-machine users.
Step #1: Know your IBM i report distribution terms
First, you need to know two basic IBM I terms that are heavily used when distributing reports.
- Spooled files – Spooled files are the IBM i term for documents. They are stored in operating system output queues, using several different formats such as SCS, AFP, etc. When transferring IBM i documents to other users or servers, it’s usually necessary to convert the spooled file to a universal format such as HTML, PDF, a MS Word document, or an MS Excel spreadsheet.
- Integrated file system (IFS) – The IFS is the IBM i file system, where all objects are stored. Documents are stored in the IFS as stream files, as UNIX files, or automatically transferred to a Windows server through the IFS’s Server Message Block (SMB) client, QNTC.
Step #2: Get the software that converts IBM i reports to universal formats
There are many professional packages such as my SpoolFlex spooled file distribution software, that convert IBM i spooled file output (documents) into universal file formats such as HTML, MS Word, MS Excel, or PDF. Feature-rich packages are affordable enough that most shops shouldn’t even consider writing DIY software for conversion.
With professional software, report conversion can be done by users or admins rather than programmers, freeing up valuable coding time for more important projects. Converted spooled files can also be automatically distributed after generation.
Step #3: Find your transfer method for distributing converted spooled files
Spooled file distribution packages store converted documents inside the IBM i Integrated File system (IFS) as stream files that are compatible with any Windows servers they will be copied to.
There are many options for transferring converted document files to another server or to outside users, including:
- Emailing the file using the native IBM i SMTP server – Spooled file distribution programs usually have their own email distribution options for sending converted files directly to users.
- Zipping files and sending them to a user – Starting in version 7 of the IBM i operating system, you can zip stream files inside the IFS for transfer to another system or users.
- FTPing a file to another server – The i operating system can serve as either an FTP client or an FTP server, and it is very easy to transmit IFS stream files via FTP.
- PC-based file transfers – Servers, PCs, and other devices can retrieve IFS stream files using common transfer protocols such as SQL, ODBC, OLE DB, and JDBC. The IBM i has an outstanding database that supports most file transfer capabilities and it’s easy to upload or download files to companion servers, even mobile devices.
- Transferring a converted spooled file directly into a companion Windows server folder using SMB – An IBM i partition can function as an SMB client inside a Microsoft Windows domain. You can copy or write converted spooled files directly onto a MS file server or a Web server from your IBM i system.
- Mapping an IFS folder as a Windows SMB drive – You can share an IFS folder and allow Windows clients to map that folder as a Windows drive. Doing this, you can have a Web server or other Windows machine copy stream files into your target Window server’s folder.
It isn’t difficult to take IBM i spooled file information and transfer it to outside users or to other systems. All you need is two things:
- A spooled file distribution package such as SpoolFlex, to convert your spooled files to universal formats; and
- A transfer method for delivering the files to your users or another server
Looking at converting and transferring IBM i report information to universal formats for external usage? Feel free to contact us at DRVTech and we’ll be glad to help you with your project.
Check out our webcast to learn more about our SpoolFlex software for IBM i report conversion.