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Product Review: iSeries Report Downloader from Evergreen Interactive Systems




That said, plan on getting the walkthrough from Evergreen. The product isn't that hard to use, but it does have its own way of doing a few things. Importing into a Word format is fairly clean and simple. My documents looked just like they did on my OS/400* system-minus the green bars on the printouts, of course.

Documentation
The documentation will probably get you where you need to be, but I'd much rather rely on the walk-through and then refer to the documentation. Again, this product does what it does without a lot of bells and whistles, so after you go through it once or twice, you should be productive from there.

Certifiability
I think it does what it says it will do.

Functionality/Usefulness
For many people who need to resurrect data from a spool file and import it into some useable format on their PC client and without all the GUIs, this could do the trick, and very affordably. It depends on what you need done, what you expect from the extracting interface and what you want to do after the extracts are done.

Some packages that convert data from reports provide a templated outline, which allows users to graphically select the areas of a report that they wish to manipulate or import. This tends to make it easier to correctly map the data, once you've done the upfront work. Well, this package doesn't provide fancy mapping-you import the whole report into Excel, then either write macros to clean it up or do it manually. While it does allow you to select report data by page range, it would be better if you could select the lines within a page for Excel extraction.

As I said, importing into a Word document format proved to be fairly simple in the examples that I worked with. Just keep in mind that youre only able to deal with an SCS print stream, and you wont be able to import anything from an overlay, etc. Those items will have to be added post-import.

Support
The support folks knew their product well and were very pleasant to work with. This is another good reason to get the walk-through.

What I'd Like to See in the Next Release

  • Support for spool-data streams other than SCS.
  • Some simple means of selecting the data from a spool-file layout that you want to import into a spreadsheet format. This would save a lot of time on post-import cleanup.

Summary
iSeries Report Downloader is a nice little utility designed to provide most of the basics when it comes to importing spool-file data into common PC applications. No more and no less. My only concern is that you may want more than this product is designed to give. But if you don't mind doing a little of the work, this may be for you. And you won't have to take out a loan to pay for it, either.

Sometimes you need a big truck; sometimes a compact does the trick. Only you can make this decision for your shop.

Don Rima has more than 20 years of experience with IBM midrange systems. Don can be reached at dr2@dlr2.net.


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