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Spectrum Mainframe Exporter
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Spectrum Mainframe Exporter FAQ


What is Spectrum Mainframe Exporter?

Spectrum Mainframe Exporter is a program that lets you use mainframe data in almost any popular PC program. For example, Excel, Lotus, and Access, to name just a few.
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Why do I need Spectrum Mainframe Exporter? Can't I simply download the mainframe file to my PC?

It's true that you can download mainframe files directly to your PC. Most download programs will even perform an EBCDIC to ASCII character translation for you. So why do you need a program like Spectrum Mainframe Exporter?

Here's the reason: mainframe data is not usually stored in a format that most PC programs can process (even after being translated to ASCII). PC programs usually expect to read all input data in text format. Even numeric and date values must be composed of text-based "digits." Unfortunately, mainframe files make extensive use of non-text formats in order to save space. Numeric values might be stored as packed fields, or in binary, binary unsigned or BCD formats. The digits in dates may also be stored as packed or binary numbers. Furthermore, the date may not even be stored as a Gregorian date at all (with distinct month, day and year components). Dates are commonly stored as Julian dates, or as a "day in the century", or even as the number of seconds since some starting time. And finally, mainframe files often contain data stored as individual bits within a single byte.

None of these types of data can simply be translated from EBCDIC to ASCII; they require much more extensive data conversion before your PC program can use them. That's part of the indispensable function that Spectrum Mainframe Exporter performs for you.

And then there may be even more problems trying to use your mainframe file in a PC. The mainframe file may use arrays in its record structure. (Possibly variably occuring arrays!) And some records may involve record segments that are located in a different position in each record.

The job of Spectrum Mainframe Exporter is to re-format all of these kinds of mainframe data (and many others) into plain text-based numbers, dates and character fields. It also encloses the text data in quotation marks where needed, and adds commas as field separators. The result is a PC export file that can be easily opened by PC programs.
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How does Spectrum Mainframe Exporter work?

Spectrum Mainframe Exporter runs as a batch job on your mainframe. You'll write a few control statements to describe the data that you want to see in your export file. Spectrum Mainframe Exporter examines your control statements and then accesses the appropriate mainframe file(s). It selects the data that you requested, sorts it, performs all the necessary data conversions and then formats it into a comma delimited export file. This file can then be downloaded to a PC and opened in Excel, Lotus, Microsoft Access, etc. (See example of this.)

With Spectrum Mainframe Exporter, you can use mainframe data in Excel by writing just a few simple statements. It saves you the days and weeks it would otherwise take to write, test and debug a whole new COBOL program -- one with routines to process the I/O, select the correct records, reformat the data and write it all out as a comma delimited file. Now your programmers can instantly satisfy all the requests for custom files from your PC users.
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Our mainframe file has millions of records. Can Spectrum Mainframe Exporter export just some of the records?

Yes. Spectrum Mainframe Exporter lets you select just the records and the fields that you really need on your PC. This saves you from having to download potentially huge mainframe files just to get to the specific items of data that you need. And Spectrum Mainframe Exporter can also presort your export file into the order you need -- at mainframe speed -- so no sorting is necessary on the PC.
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What if I want a "tab delimited" file for Excel (not comma delimited)?

Spectrum Mainframe Exporter lets you specify any ASCII (or hex) character you want to be the delimiter character. Commas are the default, but you can also specify tabs characters (X'05'), semicolons or any other character that you need. You can also specify what kind of quotation mark character (if any) to use around the character data. Choose double quotes, apostrophes (single quotes), or any other character. Spectrum Mainframe Exporter lets you completely customize the export file to meet the requirements of your intended PC or server application.
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Can I make a fixed-format ASCII file (instead of a delimited file)?

Absolutely. You can eliminate the delimter altogether. You can suppress quotation marks around text. You have total control over where fach field goes in the output record and how it is formtted -- ASCII characters, packed numbers, binary numbers, dates in many, many formats, and so on. You can specify any kind of output record that you might need.
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Is it possible to make more than one export file in a single run?

Yes. Spectrum Mainframe Exporter imposes no limit on how many export files you can create during one run (that is, during one pass of the mainframe file.) And each export file is totally independant of the others. Each one can have its own record selection criteria, sort order, set of output fields, etc. This powerful feature allows you to reduce the total number of jobs needed to create your export files, and greatly reduces the load on you CPU.
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How much does Spectrum Mainframe Exporter cost?

See our price schedule here.
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Is Spectrum Mainframe Exporter the same thing as Spectrum Writer?

No. Spectrum Writer is a full-featured 4GL custom reporting and file manipulation program. Spectrum Mainframe Exporter does have at its core a part of the Spectrum Writer engine. But Spectrum Mainframe Exporter has been pared down to provide a low-cost solution dedicated to performing one specific task perfectly -- making PC export files. It includes all of the powerful features you need to make your own custom export files. (For example, it supports linking multiple input files together, creating your own new fields with powerful built-in functions, full boolean logical expressions, and much more.) But it does not do evertyhing that Spectrum Writer does.

By the way, if you should decide to upgrade at some point in the future, ask us about applying a portion of your Spectrum Mainframe Exporter payments toward a Spectrum Writer license.
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What's involved in licensing Spectrum Mainframe Exporter?

It's very easy. You can get started whenever you like by downloading a free 30-day trial of Spectrum Mainframe Exporter. You'll love the ease with which you'll be able to use mainframe data in PCs. To keep right on using Spectrum Mainframe Exporter, you just need to complete our license agreement. We'll then send you production authorization codes that will allow you to continue using the same program without having to install anything else.
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I have another question about Spectrum Mainframe Exporter.

Just send us your question. We'll get back to you with an answer as soon as we can.

 

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