Happy Holidays everyone! This time of year always seems like a time to look back on the year and reflect on things - while also looking forward to the new year and what it might bring. Obviously, this year has been filled with challenges and changes, forcing us to find different ways to work, interact, and live. But we soldier on and play the card we’re dealt while looking for the positives and the hopeful return to normalcy in the coming year. Stay safe!!
Reflecting on 2020 from a Db2 Web Query perspective (this is, after all, a Db2 Web Query blog) it is amazing how many subtle and not so subtle enhancements were delivered. Before I get into the big news leading us into 2021 – version 2.3.0 - let’s take a quick look back.
The first half of the year was relatively quiet until we announced two new Db2 Web Query packages called “Editions.” These two new editions announced in June provide a very economical way for those with Express Edition to expand their user community without having to make the big leap into Standard Edition. The new Editions should be a very popular option in 2021 for those currently using Express Edition.
Did you know that IBM Lab Services offers a nearly out of the box solution (there is some customization) for monitoring over 1000 IBM i security attributes across all of your systems/VMs in on easy place? The Compliance Automation and Reporting Tool (CART), based on Db2 Web Query reports and dashboards, is sold through Lab Services (i.e., it is not an IBM i Licensed Program Product). In 2020 it too was enhanced to leverage some of the new features like EZ-report.
Speaking of EZ-report….we updated our EZ-Install package in August for version 2.2.1, PTF Group level 9, and that included a great new utility to very quickly build a synonym AND a report from an SQL statement (or over a file/table). It is often very easy to use SQL to query and massage data for a report. With EZ-Report you simply enter your SQL statement into the prompt and within seconds you have a report (and a foundational synonym object)!
In October, IBM also announced the availability of running Db2 Web Query in IBM’s cloud offering for IBM i, the Power Virtual Server. Run Db2 Web Query Standard Edition with unlimited user licenses under a cloud pricing model.
If that seems like a lot already, you wouldn't be wrong! And to top off the end of the year, in October IBM announced a new version of Db2 Web Query, version 2.3.0. Our recommended way of upgrading or installing for the first time, EZ-Install, will be updated for 2.3.0 sometime in early January, and we are pretty excited about its improved user interfaces (part of a on-going strategy) and introduction of using AI/ML models for advanced data insights.
Version 2.3.0 will support IBM i OS levels 7.3 and above, and offers some pretty amazing new ease of use features:
The new HOME PAGE offers a more intuitive interface for working with your content and navigating through the product. You most commonly used content is just a click away. Tools are organized by new task-oriented menus for easier access.
New DESIGNER simplifies the creation of content. Use
the interactive canvas to control placement and layout of a powerful variety
of visualizations and tabular report
options. Create pages (dashboards) containing
multiple chart/graphs and group them into multi-content containers using
tab, accordion, or carousel behavior.
I should point out that the new interfaces are pretty cool (if you didn’t get that already). However, sometimes people react negatively towards change. The good news is you shouldn’t worry – if you want to ease into the new usability features you can do so at your own pace. The main BI Portal screen in 2.2.1, and InfoAssist, are still a part of 2.3.0, and you can easily change to the (what we are now calling) “legacy” interface, either once you’ve signed in, or by just adding a ‘/legacyhome’ to the normal URL you use to sign into Db2 Web Query! Also, any report you created in InfoAssist will still be editable in InfoAssist. I encourage you to try the new stuff - you'll like it! But if its more expedient to work in the 2.2.1 interfaces you have that option!
Just like EZ-report adds another method of auto generating reports in Db2 Web Query, so does the new INSIGHTS function in 2.3.0. Insights introduces the notion of using AI/ML within Db2 Web Query. Pre-built ML (machine learning) models are available to add additional analyses over your selected data. Simply click on the Insights button from within Designer to get a set of reports providing additional information about your data such as correlations or outliers that may not be obvious in basic reports. Each generated visualization an automatically generated narrative to highlight important aspects of the data.