Generate XML/XSL Results from AS/400 Query

Advanced Systems Concepts (ASC, Schaumburg, Ill.), a longtime provider of productivity and utility software tools for the AS/400, has recently added enhancements to its SEQUEL and SEQUEL Web Interface (SWI) products that help create and display XML/XSL results from AS/400 database queries. (Extensible Markup Language, XML, is the universal format for structured documents and data on the Web. Extensible Stylesheet Language, XSL, is a style sheet language used to display XML data at a browser.) New XML, scripting and FTP functions have been added to the SEQUEL Kernel—along with new enhancements to the SWI—that merge multiple XML files, generate XSL templates, and serve XML and XSL files to the browser.


ASC’s core product, SEQUEL, was introduced in 1987 as a single module. Today, other modules include:
  • Kernel
  • User Interface (AS/400 host interface)
  • Report Writer
  • SEQUEL Viewpoint (client/server query front end)
  • SEQUEL FYI (OLAP business intelligence module)
  • SEQUEL Web Interface (Web access module)

  • SEQUEL automatically generates XML files with an SQL statement in one step. The SEQUEL Web Interface analyzes the content of the XML data files and automatically generates an XSL style sheet. With SEQUEL, a user can submit a run-time prompted query from a Web browser, which will return XML data results from multiple SEQUEL views. These can then be combined with graphics, hyperlinks and formatted text, all within a single XSL style sheet.

    “Developers with little or no experience in XML or XSL can use SEQUEL and get up to speed very quickly with this functionality,” says Rob Peterson, ASC’s director of marketing. “With a single command, SEQUEL will extract data from an AS/400 file, create an XML data file from the output, and either save the new XML file in an IFS directory or FTP the file to another server. The SWI also has a new function that automatically generates an XSL corresponding to the data.”

    The XSL can be used as-is, or modified further to incorporate a user’s own design elements or styles. Developers with a basic knowledge of HTML can easily modify the XSL template with little or no additional training, adds Peterson.

    XML and XSL results can be created and displayed directly from AS/400 database queries with Advanced Systems Concepts' SEQUEL Web Interface.
    “The key benefit for users is SEQUEL’s ability to access AS/400 data and present it any way customers want…whether through the AS/400 host interface, client server interface, OLAP business intelligence interface, or the new SEQUEL Web interface,” he continues. “We allow people to extract data in ways that no other tool can do, or process it in ways that no other tool can manage.”

    The new Scripting function in the SEQUEL Kernel is especially useful in combining the multiple steps usually required to run and display XML-based interactive queries from a browser. SEQUEL scripts allow users to run multiple SEQUEL commands (and many other system commands) together from a single request. Scripting gives users much of the capability of Command Language (CL) without requiring technical programming knowledge. A SEQUEL script can be run from a command line, job scheduler, icon (using SEQUEL ViewPoint) or Web browser (using the SEQUEL Web Interface).

    A kernel function of SEQUEL is the ability to create new AS/400 data files or PC files from query results (most popular PC file formats are supported). This function has been enhanced to include e-mail or FTP output files in the same command that generates the output file. Users can specify a recipient or recipient groups for delivery of queries or reports, either via e-mail or FTP address. A SEQUEL request may be included in an automated job as a way to keep users or Web servers continually updated with the latest AS/400 information. AS/400 data files or spooled files created in a SEQUEL request may also be sent via FTP to other AS/400 servers.

    Advanced Systems Concepts says it currently has about 200 customers for the SEQUEL Web interface and around 2,500 customers worldwide for the SEQUEL product itself. Pricing is on a tiered structure, and is based on modules purchased; entry level for a single module is $1,700.

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