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IBM Support Portal and CICS Explorer

May 9, 2011 9 comments

You probably know about the CICS Explorer and you probably know about the IBM Support Portal… how about making them play together?

I only recently discovered the Support Portal (via this blog entry and video) but when, erm, exploring it I found it supported RSS feeds. I’m a fan of feeds but hadn’t thought of integrating them with the CICS Explorer. I have wanted to think of the Explorer as being the centre of more than just CICS operation and admin tasks, and something aimed at service and support would be a good direction to look at. Hmm… so service and support news on the web, available via a feed, plus the Explorer… bingo! How about a feedreader in Explorer.

A quick look on Eclipse.org led me to RSSOwl, the feed reader for Eclipse, and its update site. A quick addition of http://boreal.rssowl.org/update/eclipse/ to the Eclipse with Explorer SDK and hey-presto, feeds for CICS Transaction Server from the Support Portal right in my CICS Explorer!

CICS Explorer with an integrated RSS feed reader

CICS Explorer with an integrated RSS feed reader

Apologies for not actually connecting up the Explorer, but I’ve not brought up my CICS for a while and it probably need some attention before I get it going in single-server mode. Update 25th May – I did this with the Explorer SDK installed in Eclipse, and it worked smoothly. It should install into the standalone RCP Explorer too, just like the CICS Tools plugins and the PD Tools plugins, but that’s not what I did.

Of course, you can add other feeds to your enhanced Explorer… you can see I’ve added the feed for Master Terminal into mine alongside the Support Portal feed.

Update 11th June…

Rational Team Concert has a very nice Feed Reader built in:

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Categories: CICS Explorer, Web 2.0

New samples for trying out Atom feeds

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

We’ve just shipped a new APAR, PM02187, which contains samples for setting up some simple Atom feeds. So if you’ve thought about trying out some of the Web 2.0 features in CICS 4.1 but not had a go yet, then this might be for you. The samples are based around creating an Atom feed from records on a temporary storage queue (there’s a program to populate a sample TS queue in the APAR) and from a VSAM file (the FILEA sample).  The samples are documented in the Scenarios section of the CICS 4.1 information center. Each scenario has step by step instructions and a demo.

We would be very interested to hear if you have some feedback on the APAR or on the scenarios and demos provided in the information center.

A SupportPac for creating Atom feeds

April 7, 2008 7 comments

SupportPac CA8K, released on 20 March 2008, shows you how to introduce some of the very latest Web technologies into your CICS TS system. The primary technology it demonstrates is how to create an Atom feed from existing CICS data, such as a Temporary Storage queue. The purpose of the SupportPac is to show that this can be done today, using existing CICS facilities. So it uses the funky new URIMAP and PIPELINE resources to map Atom feed request URLs into CICS resources that you want to publish. In its simplest form, this means that if you want to publish some data into a feed, all that your application needs to do is write the data on to a TS queue, and then let the SupportPac code do the heavy lifting of the Atom protocol.

Now you might have thought that PIPELINE definitions were only for use by SOAP and Web Services, but that’s not strictly true. You can also configure a pipeline to execute an arbitrary program as a message handler for any protocol, and that’s just what this SupportPac does to handle Atom. But it also uses the pipeline’s XML configuration file to provide some of the Atom metadata, and to help you to specify exactly which CICS resource you want to publish, and how its data is laid out.

If you want to publish CICS data that is not in a CICS TS queue, the SupportPac lets you do that, too. It can link to a program that you provide, which can extract data from wherever it likes – from your database manager, for instance – and return it in a container for insertion into the feed. There is a sample program that demonstrates using the sample FILEA file that is distributed with CICS.

Once you can deliver stuff into an Atom feed, it’s then fairly easy to request it from a Web browser using Ajax technology, and the SupportPac also includes some JavaScript to help you to do this. This could lead you on to develop mashups that incorporate CICS data, but the SupportPac doesn’t go that far.

The SupportPac doesn’t only let you request data from CICS, it also lets you manipulate it using a REST interaction style. So, as well as using the HTTP GET method to request TS queue items, you can use the POST, PUT, and DELETE methods to create, update and destroy them as well. The ability to use all four of these methods in a pipeline request did show up a CICS problem, so you have to apply the fix for PK58721 before using the SupportPac.

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