Monday, August 10, 2015

XML: Moving On and Moving In

My Center of Excellence team mate and Wizard of Oz Query Optimization Rob Bestgen has an important message to share...


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Almost a decade ago IBM came out with a set of extensions, or "extenders", for DB2. These extenders brought more capabilities to DB2 than existed in DB2’s core capabilities at the time. 

Two extenders features were distributed, depending on OS release, under licensed programs 5722-DE1, 5761-DE1 or 5770-DE1:


  • DB2 Text Extender/Text Search Engine
The Text Extender provided a way to index and search unstructured text, such as flat files and documents, using SQL as the interface.  Since potentially lots of data in any given company resides outside the database e.g. as IFS files, this extender provided a good way to track and search that data.

  • DB2 XML Extender
The XML Extender provided the capability to create XML documents from DB2 data and to annotate (extract data from) XML documents and store the extracted data into DB2 tables.  Since XML is a common way to do EDI between companies and agencies, this extender was a natural fit for creating XML documents for distribution to and for processing XML documents received from other companies and agencies.


Since the time when the Extender product first came out, the DB2 family members have added the necessary support that makes these extender features no longer necessary. This includes our favorite DB2 database, DB2 for i.

In the case of the Text Extender feature, the Omnifind product (5733-OMF) became available as a no charge licensed program product available for IBM i 6.1 and later. Even though the Omnifind product is a separate install from the OS, its runtime is integrated into the database for optimal performance.

For the XML Extender feature, IBM added integrated XML support into DB2 in IBM i 7.1. This XML support, which is integrated right into the DB2 core, provides a super set of the capabilities that were available in the XML extender.

Regarding the older the extender product, effective August 16, 2013 it was withdrawn from marketing, but continued to be supported for those customers using one or more features.

Well, that support is coming to an end in September of this year. 

The end of support timing by the way, coincides with the end of support for IBM i 6.1 OS, though the OS support can be extended (for a fee of course.) Unlike the OS however, there is no support extension coming for the extender product.

Now, for some customers, the end of support for the extender product may not be a big deal. These customers will just continue to use the product features.  However, starting in IBM i 7.2, the Extender product is not available at all.

Therein lays the potentially big issue. An application using a feature of the Extender product could be in for a rude awakening when migrating to IBM i 7.2 (i.e. when the applications stop working). Given the number of calls and questions that IBM has been receiving recently, clients appear to be finding this out the hard way.

So if you are a user of the DB2 Extender product, or suspect you are, what should you do?

The good news is that migrating from an Extender product feature to the corresponding alternative is available and proven.

For the Text Extender, a wealth of Omnifind documentation can be found here. 

For the XML Extender, a whitepaper exists on just the topic of moving from XML Extender to DB2 XML and that can be found here.

Oh by the way, the DB2 for i SQL Reference is also a great place to learn more. The 7.1 flavor can be found here, and the 7.2 flavor here.

With that said, the migration from an Extender feature is not seamless and carefree. The Extender features were written before SQL standards were in place and, as might be expected, their interfaces are different from what was eventually put into the database. For example, the XML Extender feature made heavy use of DTDs while, for DB2 integrated XML, XML SCHEMAs are the standard. In short, some amount of  "effort" is needed to do the migration.

If the thought of pursuing the migration from Extenders seems overwhelming, or you are unsure how exposed you might be, there’s more good news. The DB2 for i Center of Excellence stands ready to help you with the migration.  Our team has the knowledge and skills to assist you with evaluation, guidance and prototyping as needed.

The bottom line is this: if you are using the DB2 Extender product, it’s time to move on past the product and move into the integrated support of DB2.

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Thanks Rob!  You have illuminated a dark and stormy issue for folks migrating their "extended" database applications to 7.2. 



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