Application and Report Generation Simplified
Dataprize Inc. (Chicago, Ill.) is now shipping the latest version of CIM/400, its application and report generation tool for the AS/400.
Introduced in 1995, CIM/400 (Corporate Information Manager) is designed to let non-programmers quickly build and customize AS/400 applications and generate detailed reports in less time than IBM's DB2 Query Manager allows. New features in CIM/400 Version 2.0 include faster report-building capability using prompting, two-pass report processing, intelligent customization of user preferences and prompting in file lists. In addition, Dataprize has introduced CIM/LINK!, a module that can automatically transcribe AS/400 data into PC spreadsheet files without requiring parsing or file transfer software.
CIM/400 lets users design database files and display screens, as well as create calculations, link files and validate fields. The company says the software generates well-documented, structured, error-free source code -- using RPG/400, ILE RPG 4 and DDS -- for all applications and reports, including physical and logical files, display files and printer files. The source code lets IS staff further modify CIM/400 applications and reports, or provide links to legacy systems and third-party software.
"We believe CIM/400 is the easiest AS/400 product to use for IS staff who aren't programmers," says Martin Gallimore, Dataprize marketing manager. "It's geared to the user. For example, take report generation, which is what IS spends the majority of its time doing. IS often goes outside the company to hire consultants, which costs a lot of money. With CIM/400 they can spend a few hours training someone in-house, who can then build a moderately complex application."
Users confirm that CIM/400 provides reporting capabilities that go beyond those of DB2 Query Manager, and it can create reports faster.
"I can use Query Manager for basic simple reporting, but if I want to prompt users, I would have to hard-code that in, but I'm not a programmer. CIM/400 is a simple to use as Query Manager, but it's much faster," says Jim Thrall, VP of Score Corp. (Chicago), a systems consultant to the transportation industry. "Reports are used to make decisions and the more detailed they are, the better. CIM gives us speedy development, and it creates RPG source code prompts for the user."
Thrall adds that the software's ability to create source code that he can compile and keep on file lets him produce most of a report, and reuse it for different departments. "I created a past pay report that can read through the cash receipts for the month," he says. "I generated this in about 15 minutes. Then the programmer inserted it into the shell in about a half hour. This would be a six-day job if we had to write it from scratch, but we did it in less than an hour. It's so fast."
Although the product is geared for non-technical users, programmers also see the benefits of CIM/400's ability to generate flexible report shells that can prompt users for information. At Mitsubishi Caterpillar & Forklift of America (Houston), for example, hundreds of users had their own libraries containing thousands of queries, many of them duplicated in different departments. But CIM/400 lets IS staffers customize a basic report that can be used in a variety of departments.
"CIM/400 lets us build a report with a menu for accounting, but if the guys in manufacturing say they also want that report, instead of rebuilding the whole thing, they can just add it to their menu," explains Robert Enloe, senior program analyst at the company. "Users have better control over reports. If we used Query Manager, we'd have to rebuild reports four or five times, but by using prompts in CIM/400, we can use one report that can take care of everything, and that's a big help here."
Enloe adds that the software's menu system helps the company customize reports for different departments, without compromising security. "We built a menu for the marketing department, and users there see all the marketing reports, or only those they are authorized to see. CIM provides good security and doesn't override AS/400 security."
Available now, CIM/400 Version 2.0 is priced starting at $5,500, while the CIM/LINK! module is priced starting at $2,000.