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What's Up, DOCumentation? 1997 # 3


May 1997


To: Users of Robelle Software

Re: News of the HP 3000 and of HP-UX, 1997 #3

What You Will Find in This News Memo:

Suprtool 4.0 Hits the Streets

Once again the developers at Robelle have put forward a new release of Suprtool, the ever popular data access utility for the HP 3000 and HP 9000. Version 4.0 offers some very important new features, which are available with both the MPE/iX and HP-UX versions of Suprtool.

Suprtool is Year 2000 Compliant

Suprtool is already good at working with many date formats, including all the popular 4-digit year formats. With version 4.0, Suprtool identifies incorrect dates, such as flag values used in date fields, with the new $invalid function of the If command. Once you have identified the incorrect dates, update them easily with an Extract statement. Do you want more data-packaging options? The Item command now supports four new date formats for greater flexibility.

Easily Create Web Pages for the Internet or Intranet

Suprtool's new HTML command makes it easy to get your data onto the Web. Suprtool retrieves the data and formats it into a file with the required HTML commands. Choose either HTML Table or HTML Preformatted data options.

Access Allbase SQL Databases

With Suprtool 3.9 you could read Allbase tables and views. In version 4.0 this capability has been enhanced to support Native Char and Native VarChar data-types. Also, the new Form command shows owner names for Allbase tables. Call us for prices on the optional Allbase database access modules available on MPE/iX and HP-UX, and the Oracle database access module available for HP-UX systems.

When Will I Receive My Copy of Suprtool 4.0?

Suprtool 4.0 is currently being shipped to all users who have an active support contract in Canada and the United States. Overseas sites on support will soon receive their updated versions of Suprtool from their local Robelle representative.

If you are not using Suprtool, join the thousands of users who benefit from its reliability, speed, and flexibility. For more information or a free trial of Suprtool, visit our Web site or call us toll-free.
[Rosemary Van Poelgeest, Marketing and Sales]

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Qedit for Windows Upgrade -- Save Big, Win Big!

By now you have heard that Robelle is preparing Qedit for Windows, the editor that lets you edit local, MPE/iX, and HP-UX files from a single MS Windows program.

What you may not have heard is that Robelle is having a prize draw in which you can win one copy of the server software and two copies of the client software. To enter the draw, visit the Robelle Web site and fill out the Request for Quotation form, or fax us using the form below. We'll send you a quotation for Qedit for Windows at the low introductory price, and enter you in our draw. Good luck!

Request for Quotation Form:

Complete this form and you will automatically be entered to win one copy of Qedit for Windows (includes two clients and one server).

How many clients and how many servers will be running Qedit?

   ___    HP 3000
   ___    HP 9000
   ___    Total number of users of Windows clients
   ___    Approximate number of concurrent users
How do you plan to distribute the client software? Please check each box that applies.

   ___    Via a PC file server
   ___    Install on each PC
   ___    Other, please specify
Do you already use Qedit?

   ___    My company is already licensed to use Qedit for HP 3000.
   ___    My company is already licensed to use Qedit for HP 9000.
Check each box that applies.

   ___    Please send me more information.
   ___    Let me know when I can order a free 30-day trial.
   ___    I would like to be a pre-release site.
Address and contact information:

   Attn:   ______________________________
   Phone:  ______________________________
   Fax:    ______________________________
   E-mail: ______________________________

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Get SmartDate on the Web

We have started shipping SmartDate, the library of date and time routines for programmers. You can get information about SmartDate or even download a trial version from our Web site:

Suprtool Training Schedule

Here is Robelle's in-house course schedule for Suprtool classes in 1997:

August 7 - 8
December 4 - 5

For more information about the schedule or to arrange a private session at your site, call Rosemary Van Poelgeest or Fran Glasgow at 1-888-ROBELLE.

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Integrating IMAGE into Intranet

Every weekday at Robelle, the sales team prints a list of currently outstanding sales calls. When the sales printer is turned on in the morning, it happily spits out the daily reports, unless it's grumpy. Occasionally the reports get lost and need to be regenerated.

The solution that I have developed for generating reports involves placing the reports on Robelle's intranet, using a batch job that runs on the HP 3000. The list of calls can be viewed using any Web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer.

The CallList job runs at 4:30 in the morning. It runs Suprtool to generate the report data, then converts this data to HyperText Markup Language (HTML). This step is done by the STExport module, which comes with every version of Suprtool.

base etc... { Create data file in link format}
output tdaylist link

run input tdaylist output tdayhtml html table title "Today's Call List" head "Today's Call List" heading fieldnames exit

IMAGE Names in Headings

The output file from STExport has all of the HTML commands for a self-contained document, as well as the table of data. The column headings are taken from the IMAGE fieldnames.

<title>Today's Call List</title>
<h1>Today's Call List</h1>
<table border=1>
<tr><td>T4003<td>STLIC<td>TR<td>(410) 555-6373<td>Guy Schmidt</tr>
<tr><td>T1661<td>LQLIC<td>TR<td>(408) 555-6525<td>Don Juan</tr>
Today's Call List no. 1

Customizing the HTML Output

I wanted some hypertext links in the document to aid in navigation, so I replaced the Heading Fieldnames command with Heading "string" and Heading Add "string" commands to include some custom HTML code. With this method, I have to manually insert the appropriate HTML code. I wanted the table headings to be left-justified, normal text (instead of the <th> default that makes the headings bold and centered), so I added some <td> tags with text. This makes the HTML browser format "my" headings as the first row in the data table. Notice that I also added a string with "todaysdate" (see below). Adding all of these strings creates a really long heading string. Of the 2,000 character maximum in STExport, I used only about 300.

input tdaylist
output tdayhtml
html table title "Today's Call List" head "Today's Call List"
heading "<a href=http://internal/><img src=/icon/sm_home.gif></a>"
heading add "<a href=./><img border=0 alt='Sales Main Menu'
heading add "Go to: <a href=outslist.html>Outstanding Calls</a>"
heading add "<hr>"
heading add "todaysdate"
heading add "<tr><td>Trial No<td>Product<td>Type<td>Phone"
heading add "<td>Contact</tr>"
The result of this step looks like this:

<title>Today's Call List</title>
<h1>Today's Call List</h1>
<table border=1>
<a href=http://internal/><img src=/icon/sm_home.gif></a><a
href=./><img border=0 alt='Sales Main Menu'
src='/icon/back.gif'></a>Go To: <a href=outslist.html>Outstanding
<tr><td>T4003<td>STLIC<td>TR<td>(410) 555-6373<td>Guy Schmidt</tr>
<tr><td>T1661<td>LQLIC<td>TR<td>(408) 555-6525<td>Don Juan</tr>

Today's Date

I wanted the report to show the exact time it was created, in case it was regenerated in the middle of the day. Qedit is my tool of choice to change the "todaysdate" string in the HTML document file, but I could just as easily have used Editor or perhaps some CI commands.
text tdayhtml
:/change "todaysdate"Table generated: !hpintrodate !hptimef" all
The final result looks like this when viewed with a Web browser:

Today's Call List no. 2

Onto the Server

To put the HTML document file on our server, it must be moved from the HP 3000 machine on which it was produced to a Windows NT machine that runs our intranet server. I used FTP on the HP 3000 to move the file to the directory of Sales pages on the intranet:

user webster
<<secret password>>
cd /www/sales
put tdayhtml tdaylist.html

The Paperless Office

I thought that perhaps this process would help attain my personal goal of converting Robelle into a paperless office, but alas, no. The sales team actually uses the printed reports to write on. Sigh. Luckily, most browsers have a print feature that lets people print what they see on the screen. Those lost reports are now easily reproduced on a whim! Just point your browser to the correct intranet page, click on that little icon that vaguely resembles a printer, and your report just might make it to that happy little LaserJet in the corner--if it's not feeling too grumpy.
[Ken Robertson, MIS]

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Gone Fishing

As a Canadian company, Robelle has the following statutory holidays for the next few months: July 1, August 4, and September 1. The general office will be closed, but we will still be taking care of emergency support calls. Call the regular 1-888-ROBELLE number, then dial 0 (zero) to get the answering service operator, and ask to have the on-call support person paged.

Technical Tips

Windows 95 Tips

Windows 95 comes with a helpful file called tips.txt in the Windows directory. This file has a number of interesting tips and tricks for using Windows 95. These are a couple of examples:

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Here is a productivity tip for the breakfast table: a banana will peel much easier from the bottom end (the end away from the stem). User instructions: pinch the hollow at the bottom end to break the skin, then peel and eat.

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Just the FAQs, Ma'am

Here are the answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions in the past few months.

Q: What is the charge for upgrading Robelle software from one CPU to another?

A: If you are upgrading a CPU from one model to another within the same series (e.g., from one model to another within the HP 3000 series), there is no charge. We do not charge based on how big or fast your computers are, only on how many computers the software is installed on. You'll need to let us know the HPSUSAN or CPU ID of the new computer, so we can provide the authorization codes that let the software run on the new computer. There is no charge for the codes. By the way, we don't get tired of hearing our customers say they like our "no tiers, no tears" upgrade policy.

Q: When will Qedit for Windows be available, and how much will it cost?

A: The product release of Qedit for Windows is currently scheduled for the end of July or beginning of August. We will keep you updated through What's Up DOCumentation? and the Internet. If you have requested a trial, you will be contacted as soon as trials are available.

To find out how much it will cost to upgrade to Qedit for Windows, complete the Request for Quotation form on page 2 of this newsletter or on the Internet. You will receive a customized quote that reflects your configuration and the special prices in our generous introductory offer.

Q: What version of Qedit and Suprtool do I need for MPE/iX 5.5?

A: We recommend Qedit version 4.4 or later, and Suprtool version 3.8 or later. Remember that when you upgrade your operating system you may need to stream some Robelle jobs to integrate Qedit or Suprtool into the new system. For example, stream Qcompxl.Qeditjob.Robelle to let your native mode compilers read Qedit-format source files, or re-install the Speed Demon or Suprtool2 routines if you need them in SL.Pub.Sys. See the installation section of your user manuals for details.

Q: Can I get more manuals?

A: Robelle software comes with one manual. You can, however, buy more manuals from us (see Inventory Reduction Sale below). But do you really need printed manuals? We provide the entire contents of the user manual in a number of other forms:

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Inventory Reduction Sale on Suprtool 3.8 Manuals

Now that Suprtool 4.0 is being shipped, we are selling our Suprtool 3.8 manuals at a very attractive price. The version 3.8 manuals cover almost everything in the version 4.0 manuals, except for the new Allbase database functions, the HTML functions for STExport, and the new $invalid date function of the If command. If you need a large number of manuals, this may be a cost-effective way of getting them. The new Suprtool 4.0 manuals are $20 each. You can have the version 3.8 manuals for the cost of shipping and handling. Call us for details.

Suprtool Now Comes with Laundry Money!

A Suprtool user called from California asking why he received $10 worth of quarters with his Suprtool 4.0 update package, which was distributed by Southern Adventist University in Tennessee. The attached packing slip showed it was sent from a company in Tennessee to a company in California, but these two companies were neither the source nor the destination of the package. The mystery has not been solved yet.

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Robelle Products: Problems, Solutions and Suggestions

Blocksize and Suprtool Performance

A Suprtool user called with a deceptively simple question: "What blocksize should I use in my files to maximize Suprtool performance?"

The general rule of thumb for most programs is to use larger blocksizes, in order to reduce the number of disc accesses for programs that need to process the file serially. But because of the way Suprtool works, bypassing much of MPE's normal deblocking mechanisms, you don't need to make your blocks large. In fact if you make a blocksize too big, Suprtool will give you this error message:

Error: The input blocksize is greater than 14336 words.

Making your blocksizes as close to 14,336 words as possible will not give the best Suprtool performance. The MPE/iX version of Suprtool can read or write up to 24,576 words with every disc access, by reading or writing multiple blocks at a time. This multiple-block ability (technically, MPE's MR capability) is a major contributor to Suprtool's super speed. If your block is 14,336 words, Suprtool can fit only one 14,336-word block into its 24,576-word buffer. The best blocksize would be one that fills Suprtool's 24,576-word buffer to its capacity by allowing Suprtool to read or write multiple blocks at a time. So even though the maximum is 14,336, a blocksize of 12,288 words would be better than 14,336 because Suprtool could put two blocks in its buffer with one disc access. A blocksize of 8,192 words would be just as good for Suprtool because Suprtool could read or write three blocks per disc access.

To come back to the original question, "What blocksize should I use in my files to maximize Suprtool performance?", the answer is any blocksize that permits Suprtool to most completely fill its 24,576-word buffer with a number of your blocks.

Here is an example of a real situation:

FILENAME  CODE  ------------LOGICAL RECORD-----------
                  SIZE  TYP        EOF      LIMIT R/B
FOO               159W  FB        3780       5500  20
File FOO has a record size of 159 words, blocked by 20, giving a blocksize of 3,180 words. Suprtool can fit seven of these 3,180-word blocks in its 24,576-word buffer. Therefore, Suprtool can read or write 140 data records at a time. But seven times 3,180 is only 22,260 words. Theoretically there should still be space for fourteen more records in the buffer (that's (24,576 - 22,260) / 159), if only we could find a blocksize that would fill the buffer more completely. The theoretical maximum is 154 records (that's 24,576 / 159). If Suprtool could access, say, two blocks of 77 records, it would get the maximum performance.

Would other blocking factors work just as well? Another blocking factor that would fit nicely into 154 is 22. Suprtool's performance at accessing seven blocks of 22 records would be identical to accessing two blocks of 77 records. Either way it is only one disc access for Suprtool. A blocking factor of 51 would also allow Suprtool to fit three 8,109-word blocks into its buffer, with almost no wasted space.

Note that on MPE V, or when using the compatibility mode version of Suprtool on MPE/iX, the maximum buffer size is 14,336 words.

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Dereferencing MPE Variables in Qedit

You can use MPE/iX variables in Qedit commands by prefixing the Qedit command with a colon and a slash (:/). The colon tells Qedit to send the command to MPE, which knows how to dereference variables, then the slash tells Qedit that it is really a Qedit command, not a MPE command.

For example, to change the string {insert date here} to the value of the "mydate" variable in all lines,

text myfile
:/change "{insert date here}" "!mydate" all
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Warning About Saving Files Across Accounts

There is a bug in MPE/iX 5.5 that may cause you some difficulty if you try to keep files across account boundaries. Qedit (or EDIT/3000 for that matter) may purge an existing file in another account, but not be able to keep the new file. The end result is that you can end up losing your work. If you get this error message with Qedit,

   Existing file apparently purged, but still cannot save new file.
   Fclose Err: Security
save your file in the local account, then manually move it across to the other account. HP is investigating this as SR 5003-356063. They have classified it as a serious problem.

Install Robelle Software Like a Pro

Here are a few tips and reminders about installing or upgrading Robelle software products.

The software comes with a printed list of the HPSUSANs or CPU IDs that the software is authorized to run on. Check the list before starting the installation. The software will not install on an unauthorized CPU.

On HP 3000s, the prior version of the software is saved in the PubOld.Robelle group, in case you need to go back to the previous version. Once you are sure you don't need to go back, you can clean up the PubOld group by streaming the Pubold.Purgejob.Robelle job. The Purgejob group has a number of cleanup jobs you may find useful.

On HP 3000s, you can restore files from the Robelle tape during the day, but delay the actual software installation until the evening when everybody is off the system. For example,

:stream install.suprjob;at=23:00
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