Announcing IBM i 7.5 TR2 and 7.4 TR8
By Steve Will / April 11, 2023
Steve Will introduces the latest IBM i Technology Refreshes and their benefits to SQL application developers and database engineers
For all the detailed information on everything included in the TRs, please see the support pages:
IBM i 7.5 TR2
IBM i 7.4 TR8
As usual I can’t cover everything, so I’ll pick a few technologies which are central to our IBM i strategy and list a few new items in each of those. And if we’re talking about central strategic technology, we certainly start with Db2 for i.
DatabaseDb2 for i is certainly the fully relational data technology on IBM i, but it’s more than that. So, in this announcement, yes, there are new capabilities for SQL application developers and database engineers, but there are also new capabilities for anyone interested in modern and advanced systems and security management techniques. Let me just highlight two areas—SQL enhancements and IBM i services (though there are more—see the IBM i Technology Updates wiki).
SQL EnhancementsDb2 for i continues to enhance SQL, the language of the database, as follows:
- The popular SQL HTTP RESTful services functions, found in QSYS2, are enhanced yet again. The original support uses character large object (CLOB) as the data type for the request and response messages. Now, there is an alternative for those who prefer to use binary large object (BLOB) instead. HTTP_DELETE_BLOB, HTTP_GET_BLOB, HTTP_PATCH_BLOB, HTTP_POST_BLOB and HTTP_PUT_BLOB have been added to QSYS2, along with verbose versions of these functions.
- A new set of built-in functions are added to the SQL language in the form of ADD_DAYS, ADD_HOURS, ADD_MINUTES, ADD_SECONDS and ADD_YEARS, making it possible to incorporate business logic into SQL.
- RESTRICT ON DROP support is extended beyond database files to include procedures and functions. The RESTRICT ON DROP attribute prevents accidental or malicious attempts to delete mission-critical procedures and functions.
- The SQL Query Engine (SQE) takes advantage of hardware acceleration available on Power10 processors to automatically compress cached query plans larger than 256 KB. The compression will enable more efficient use of temporary storage and may reduce cache churn associated with query re-optimization.
IBM i ServicesIBM i services, the strategic method for gaining access to IBM i objects, system information and more, continues to grow. Leveraging the power of SQL and the Db2 for i SQE, application developers, database engineers and system managers have an easy pathway to explore IBM i objects and data in ways that were not possible with previous technologies.
New or enhanced IBM i services include:
- DNS_LOOKUP_IP is a new scalar function that accepts an Internet Protocol (IP) version 4 (v4) or IPv6 formatted IP address and returns the corresponding host name.
- NETWORK_ATTRIBUTE_INFO is a view that returns a single row containing information about the network attributes of the system. The information returned is similar to the detail available through the Display Network Attributes (DSPNETA) CL command and the Retrieve Network Attributes (RTVNETA) CL command.
- The SAVE_FILE_INFO view, SAVE_FILE_OBJECTS table function and SAVE_FILE_OBJECTS view all return information about save files. The information returned is similar to the detail available through the Display Save File (DSPSAVF) CL command.
- PTF_INFO, the original SQL service, is enhanced to have an additional column to enable the product option to be returned.
Application DevelopmentDepending on how you count things, you could easily make the case that the vast majority of what we deliver on IBM i is related to helping application developers do more, more easily, more efficiently and more securely. With that in mind, many areas related to application development have new capabilities. We’ll start with IWS and then cover VS Code.
Integrated Web Services (IWS)The IWS support within IBM i provides an industry-standard and secure platform for creating and hosting REST and SOAP APIs and being able to call REST and SOAP APIs from native ILE applications. It provides a robust and easy-to-use REST-based or SOAP-based API to create a hosting environment for IBM i. It offers a simpler way to expose key ILE programs and service programs as REST APIs. Additionally, you can wrapper well-formed SQL with a REST API call, no longer needing to have the ODBC or JDBC connections open externally. This integrated REST API engine continues to adopt the latest in industry standards and functions to provide REST capabilities that meet the many diverse needs of IBM i applications:
- Ability to specify PATCH as an HTTP method for an API. Now users can specify the following supported HTTP methods:
– DELETE – PATCH
– DELETE – PATCH
- Ability to specify "inputoutput" web service parameters for ILE programs and service programs for REST APIs. Previously, users had to choose between input or output.
- Support for the Boolean data type.
- Improved web administration GUI for managing web services, including filtering of web services.
App Dev and Open Source
VS Code ExtensionsVarious enhancements have been made to IBM i extensions for VS Code, both by IBM and the community. Some examples include:
- New method of uploading files to server in a faster manner
- Ability to launch debugging from VS Code for ILE programs
- Support for connecting to IBM i environments securely without user authentication
- Support for .env files in local projects that are used when running actions
- New API documentation in the form of TypeScript type definitions for extension authors to use the IBM i APIs
- CL language support inside of VS Code, including content assist, outline view and more
Application ServingIBM i continues to enable several open-source Java application servers on IBM i. Some examples include WildFly, Eclipse Jetty and Apache Tomcat. WildFly is an open-source version of JBoss. It is actively developed by Red Hat. It offers a simple upgrade path to Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (JBoss EAP), if needed. Apache Tomcat is one of the most popular application servers on IBM i and has been in use for well over a decade. Eclipse Jetty is a lightweight web server that brings both scalability and ease of use. For more information about these options, see the Open Source Java Application Servers page.
System Administration and AwarenessAnother key value customers receive from IBM i is the set of integrated tools which make it easy to manage the platform and the workloads which run on that platform.
In both IBM i 7.5 TR2 and 7.4 TR8, IBM Navigator for i contains new functions and features that allow end users and system administrators to access, manage and monitor their environments. New tasks and features provide administrators with additional information not available in previous versions along with some features missing in Heritage Navigator. IBM i Access Client Solutions has been updated to provide significant value for database engineers by improving the usability of SQL for day-to-day operations. These enhancements are valuable for general system users as well. These come in the form of enhancements on using SQL Scripts for system management capabilities.
Additionally, in this Technology Refresh, several enhancements have been made to make life easier for users when interacting with their systems and environments. The IBM i Remote System Explorer API is a new interface that allows clients to work with various components on their host system. Software data compression for all existing Save/Restore interfaces that already support compression for save files and optical devices is now available. This will be useful for cloud configurations where physical tape was previously not an option. Non-configured logical disk units can also now be completely removed without an IPL.
And One More Thing – Power Virtual ServerI also wanted to take this chance to mention that IBM’s Cloud offering options for IBM i and other Power platforms continue to grow. As more of our clients adopt cloud services, Power Virtual Server is announcing a 16th datacenter, DAL10, located in Dallas. If your business has been thinking about “cloud,” I want to make sure you know that this is an option that has gained traction—and is growing.
Hearing, Seeing and Reading More About EverythingThe above is just an incomplete summary of the enhancements. If you haven’t already, please register and join the COMMON webcast I’m doing today, April 11, at 10 a.m. CT with Steve Sibley, vice president of product management for Power. I will be covering the items about which I’ve written, and a few more, and Steve will give an update on our overall IBM i and Power strategy and roadmap. I hope to see you on the webcast and at POWERUp in Denver, the Common Europe Congress in June and at the many 35th anniversary celebrations taking place in person and online around the world this year.
AIX / IBM i / Linux on POWER / Windows / Article / Community / Data management / Industry news / Db2 for IBM i / RDi / You and i blog / SQL
About the author
Steve Will is the chief architect for IBM i, responsible for strategy and planning related to the OS.
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