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Spectrum Writer Overview of Features

Chapter 1. About Spectrum Writer


Chapter Table of Contents

What is Spectrum Writer?
Why You Need Spectrum Writer
Spectrum Writer Pays for Itself Fast!
Spectrum Writer Features

What Is Spectrum Writer?

Spectrum Writer is a program that makes it easy to produce custom reports and files from your company's existing mainframe data.

With Spectrum Writer at your fingertips, both your end-users and your boss will soon be amazed and delighted with your quick results. And you'll have the satisfaction of accomplishing more than ever before -- with less effort!

Why You Need Spectrum Writer

Easy New Production Reports

The reports produced by Spectrum Writer look every bit as professional as those produced by individual report programs. Titles are perfectly centered. Column headings are neatly aligned above the data, and underlined. At control breaks, totals are aligned under the numeric columns, with the name of the break field clearly identified. This attention to detail means you can use Spectrum Writer to quickly produce your regular production reports. Its usefulness is not limited to ad hoc reports.

Fast One Time Queries

Spectrum Writer is also great for those frequent "one shot" requests. Now you'll be able to satisfy requests that there just wasn't time for without Spectrum Writer. You'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

Delight Your PC End Users

When the users would really prefer to manipulate the mainframe data themselves, Spectrum Writer allows you to give it to them in PC format. The users can then process the mainframe data however they like in their spreadsheet, database or word processing program. And the programmers can get back to programming.

Spectrum Writer delights PC users with many exciting new possibilities. With mainframe data in their PCS, they'll be able to:

  • perform "what if" calculations in PC spreadsheets
  • maintain their own PC database, for personal access or LAN use
  • print high quality graphics on laser printers
  • create color graphics, overhead transparencies and slides for fabulous presentations

Spectrum Writer's PC files also make it easy for you to provide mainframe data to people without access to your mainframe. Just e-mail the PC file to your offices around the world.

Web Reports for your "Paperless Office"

Spectrum Writer can format your reports especially for viewing on Web browsers (such as Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.) You can put such reports on your company's Intranet or Internet site for easy company-wide (or public) viewing. Or, send the report to your colleagues as an e-mail attachment that they can automatically view from their e-mail reader. Spectrum Writer is a powerful tool in the move toward paperless "enterprise" reporting.

Perfect for Downsizing Applications

Use Spectrum Writer for one time file conversions needed when downsizing mainframe applications to run on PC systems. Spectrum Writer converts the packed, binary, and bit fields to the kind of ASCII data that is needed on the PC system.

Reduce Your CPU Usage

We hate to mention this, but some report writers are real "CPU Hogs." No wonder many systems programmers tremble when programmers develop new applications with them. But, because Spectrum Writer is written entirely in efficient assembly language, its reports run amazingly fast.

In many cases, there is no significant difference between Spectrum Writer's run time, and the run time of a COBOL program written to produce the same report. And when you consider the CPU cycles saved in development (fewer compiles, test runs, debugging, etc.), Spectrum Writer can actually lighten the load on your CPU.

Reduce PC Download Time and Hard Disk Usage

Spectrum Writer's PC files reduce download time and hard disk usage by letting you download only the data you actually need (not the entire mainframe file.) Why tie up a PC for hours downloading records and fields that won't even be used?

Some PC based products require you to download entire reports to the PC. Then, the PC program must process the entire, gigantic report just to extract the few lines of data that the PC user may actually need. Spectrum Writer lets you do the extraction on the mainframe, before you download the data.

Spectrum Writer Pays for Itself Fast!

Spectrum Writer quickly pays its own way in a shop maybe even the first time you use it!

Spectrum Writer greatly increases programmers' productivity. It slashes the programming effort required to create new reports and PC files by 90% or more. That means more completed projects, in less time, without an increase in staff. And if Spectrum Writer eliminates the need, even once, to bring in contract programmers to relieve overburdened staff -- you'll recover its cost from that alone.

Spectrum Writer also increases the productivity of your PC users. If they are manually entering data now, the time savings from automating that will be enormous. But even if you have an existing download application, Spectrum Writer reduces the "dead time" associated with it. You'll eliminate the wasted time spent downloading unnecessary data. And you'll shift much of the slow sorting and number crunching functions from the PC back up to the mainframe. You'll recover all the productivity your shop is losing every day to idle time when PC users are just waiting on their PCS. And with Spectrum Writer, there are no expensive PC components to purchase and maintain. All you need is Spectrum Writer and your existing file transfer facility.

Add together the cumulative value of the hours saved by the programming staff and your end users. You'll see that it won't take long to recoup your small investment in Spectrum Writer.

payback chart

Spectrum Writer Features

Spectrum Writer has the following main features:

  • control statements use an easy, free format, English-like syntax that's easily learned by non-technical users
  • allows long, user-friendly field names (unlike some report writers that restrict you to cryptic 8-byte names)
  • you can easily combine data from flat files, VSAM files and DB2 tables
  • use your existing COBOL or Assembler record layouts instead of creating a data dictionary. Or, use Spectrum Writer's simple data dictionary for added functionality.
  • no data definition required for DB2 tables -- Spectrum Writer accesses the definition from your DB2 system
  • produces efficient internal machine code that is easy on your CPU
  • formats output files into many standard PC formats, so that mainframe data can be easily imported into PC spreadsheet, database, word processing and presentation programs
  • produces output files for mainframe or Unix applications
  • automatically produces HTML-formatted Web reports
  • report lines are not limited to 132 characters. Spectrum Writer can format a report as wide as your laser printer will support.
  • automatically prints bar graphs
  • ability to print full-page forms
  • ability to skip to a new sheet of paper at control breaks (not just the next "page")
  • has a logical default for every aspect of the report, from the report titles, to how to format numeric and date fields, to the Grand Total line
  • allows complete control over formatting of numeric fields, including handling of special cases like telephone numbers, social security numbers, etc.
  • lets you format dates in any of over 40 different ways
  • allows complete control over report titles, column headings, and footnotes
  • has a "forgiving" error philosophy that results in at least a partial report almost every try
  • has thorough, clear documentation, including a User's Guide in non-technical language for end-users
  • validity-checks numeric data before processing it, so that no S0C7 abends occur
  • ability to display file data in hexadecimal format, for analyzing invalid data
  • converts fields from ASCII to EBCDIC and vice verse
  • special features for speedy report development, such as limiting the number of records processed, or the number of report lines printed
  • supports full "boolean logic" (the use of AND, OR and NOT) in conditional expressions
  • ability to scan free format fields, to look for a certain text anywhere within the field
  • comparisons and computations are allowed between any numeric fields, regardless of their differing data type or decimal precision in the input file
  • comparisons are allowed between any date fields, regardless of their differing formats in the input file
  • supports dates with 2-digit or 4-digit years
  • supports windowing to handle 2-digit years after the year 2000
  • lets you create your own new fields, optionally assigning different values depending on one or more conditions
  • supports every imaginable type of mainframe data, including over 30 kinds of date fields, and over 20 kinds of time fields
  • full mathematical calculations are supported when creating new fields, including the use of many built-in functions
  • supports full range of functions to manipulate string data, including powerful parsing features
  • "compress" formatting feature lets you, for example, compress separate city, state and ZIP fields into a normal address line format
  • lets you use data from existing mainframe reports (rather than mainframe files) in PC programs
  • handles complicated record layouts, including variably located fields, fields located by pointer or pointer expressions, etc.
  • supports records that contain arrays with varying number of entries
  • lets you specify your own spreadsheet column headings, or use defaults
  • easily summarizes data
  • automatically computes statistics (such as total, average, maximum, minimum)
  • allows an unlimited number of input files in a single run
  • allows an unlimited number of control breaks
  • allows an unlimited number of print lines per input record
  • allows complete customization of control breaks
  • allows complete customization of Grand Totals at end of report
  • built-in fields provide the system date, time, jobname, etc.
  • can limit input file processing to a certain key range, to eliminate unnecessary I/O
  • user exit interfaces for any special handling required at the field or record level
  • provides end of job statistics, such as how many records read from each input file, and how many records included in the report

  • Proceed to Chapter 2. Report Writing Examples
  • Return to Booklet Table of Contents

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