Many companies ask us what they should look for in IBM i database query and report writer tools, such as our DBXFlex software. IMHO, a great database query tool contains the following elements.
- It makes it easy to select IBM i data for meaningful analysis
- It formats output for better understanding and better presentation
- It extracts and packages data in formats users can easily work with
- It’s efficient and doesn’t slow down your IBM i system
Here’s how these elements work in practice.
Selecting data for meaningful analysis
A database query tool should offer simple yet powerful selection capabilities. The selection interface should be easy enough to use that you can turn over report generation to non-IT users, such as your Accounting, Material Control, or Sales departments.
This software interface should be flexible enough to generate financial insights about IBM i data, without making your users learn SQL or any other quasi-programming language. No programming knowledge should be required or needed. A good tool can help get your programmers out of the report writing business.
You should be able to select data by record range or by values that are present in different file fields, including wildcard selection. You also should be able to easily join multiple database files to link related information together in a single report or output file. A good package will use runtime variables for report selection, so that you can modify and generate custom reports on the fly without changing the underlying report setup.
Formatting output for understanding and presentation
Good database query tools enable you to create customized reports in multiple formats. Standard packages output and merge IBM i database info with form overlays for better presentation.
Other features to look for include sorting capabilities, adding color to different report rows or using color to highlight specific results, and the ability to format special field types such as dates.
Extracting and packaging data in formats the user can work with
In addition to printing custom reports on any IBM i printer, good database query tools extract information to universal PC formats such as Excel, PDF, comma separated values (CSV), or MS Word. PC file output allows you to export database analysis files to network servers including Web servers, the Integrated File System (IFS), or to email files directly to users that need the data. Universal formats enable users to receive and immediately start using reports without further conversion or modification.
In cases where you need to extract (download) all the data in a file to PC format, your database query solution should be able to quickly pull all information into a PC file or be able to extract file subsets with wildcard features.
Efficient processing keeps your system humming
A good database query tool performs efficiently. It doesn’t slow down your system and it uses the best IBM i capabilities for efficient database processing. The best way to check for efficient query report processing without affecting performance is to download and demo the software before you buy it and test it yourself. Also check out this article about how IBM i database query tools can create less system stress.
Make sure your package can save report templates, so that users can quickly create new but slightly different reports from existing reporting formats. You’ll also want to look at how the package automates report execution and distribution, whether it has its own runtime scheduler or whether you can auto-run entries with your own scheduling software.
Valuable, fast, and inexpensive
A good database query tool provides incredible value to any organization. It can uncover trends and open up new opportunities hiding in your database. But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Great query tools that provide meaningful data analysis, great formatting, extraction capabilities, and efficient processing are available at a reasonable price.
If you’re looking for a database query tool for your IBM i shop, please feel free to contact us at DRVTech for more information or to schedule a demo.
SLOW is the enemy of our data-driven business world. See for yourself what a great database query tool like DBXFlex can do for your company!