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IBM i Access Client Solutions Feature Roundup

IBM Access Client Solutions

In Sonnet 43, poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." Well, there’s a lot to like about Access Client Solutions (ACS), a new member of the IBM i Access family. Here’s the short list for those counting:

  • An improved 5250 emulator
  • Run SQL Scripts, with significant improvements
  • Visual Explain of DB2 statements
  • Links to IFS and Navigator for i (web access)
  • Platform support for Windows, Linux and MacOS

IBM's Access Client Solutions is an alternative to IBM i Access for Windows, and it supports many of the features that developers routinely use in the Access for Windows product. With each update to ACS, IBM has added more function to satisfy users. In fact, IBM states that if you are moving to IBM i 7.3, you'll be required to use ACS for your system console.

The Emulator

A staple of the IBM i developer is the emulator. The one in ACS has a few new tricks. You can view your 5250 sessions, each in an individual window or have them as tabs in a single window. I like the tabbed variation because it’s easy to switch between sessions. This emulator feels solid and gives you choices of many preference settings, for fonts, colors, and communication options. You can customize the toolbar with your favorite application icons too.

ACS gives you options to configure, start and manage sessions, but goes further with an application to show a list of active sessions. In addition to applying different colors to your 5250 sessions, you can also place an image or text in the background of your 5250 session, to identify the site, user or session. The menu refers to this as a watermark and there are several reserved words available to capture session information for the watermark.

Run SQL Scripts

A frequent activity for me, and probably most IBM i developers, involves creating or editing SQL for the DB2 database. With Access for Windows, I frequently used the Run SQL Scripts function to write SQL statements, procedures or functions. When satisfied, I save them in either PC-based files or Source file members. This Run function wasn't originally included in the ACS product, but when it was, it came with features that improved it over the original client. Subsequent releases have improved it further. Let’s examine features for working with your SQL:

⎯Tokenized SQL, providing distinct colors for SQL keywords, literals and identifiers (your column or table names).

You can set the SQL formatter configuration for several format preferences related to both SQL keywords and your table identifiers, selecting upper case, lower case, mixed case, line length and indentation amount. These might not seem like a big deal, but with the tokenization, these formatting options make for much more readable SQL and thus improved productivity.

ACS can check your SQL for portability, which could be helpful if you employ multiple platforms and need to stick to standards.

Also provided are options to include SQL from template examples. Some of these examples existed in the Windows product, but have been expanded and grouped into categories including, DDL, DML, IBM i or DB2 services and more.

Rick Flagler is an information technology consultant, teacher and mentor.

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