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April 2000 Newsletter

Volume 10, No. 1

Highlights of This Issue

The Washington Area Informix User Group Mailing List by Lester Knutsen 

Forum 2000 by Nick Nobbe 

Forum 2000 Presentations On Our Web Site by Lester Knutsen 

Forum 2000 Pictures by Nancy Balsbaugh 

Interview with Jean-Yves Dexmier by Ron Flannery 

Informix Certification Study Group by Bob Carts 

Informix Race Car

Informix White Papers and Tech Briefs by Walt Hultgren 

The onstat Quick Reference Guide by Troy L. Hewitt 

Next Meeting - June 14, 2000

  • New Features in Informix IDS 2000
  • Java Serverlets and Stored Procedures
Date and Time: June 14, 2000 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Location: Informix Software Corporation, 8065 Leesburg Pike, Suite 600, Vienna, VA 22182

The meeting is open to everyone. Please RSVP to 703-256-0267 x101 so we can keep a count.

This is the Final Paper Issue of the WAIUG Newsletter

The WAIUG newsletter will be changing to a complete web and email newsletter. I have been developing data warehouse systems to replace paper reports and decided it is time to do the same with this newsletter.  At our last board meeting, we decided that this will be the final issue printed on paper.  The number of hits on our web site has been increasing, and our email list has been growing.  To stay informed, make sure you sign up for our email mailing list.  (See the article on page 3) Also, watch our web site for new articles and the complete version of "The Onstat Quick Reference Guide" by Troy L. Hewitt in July 2000.

I would like to thank all the authors who have worked hard with me on this newsletter. I have really enjoyed the privilege of working with you.  Now, on to my new task as electronic editor and web master. - Lester Knutsen, Editor

Newsletter Sponsorship

The user group has been supported by many companies over the years. We would like to thank the following companies for sponsoring this issue:

Advanced DataTools Corporation

FuGEN Technologies

SQL Power Tools

User Group Activities

Quarterly Meetings: The Washington Area Informix User Group (WAIUG) holds quarterly meetings, usually at the Informix offices in Tysons Corner, Virginia, 8065 Leesburg Pike, Suite 700. The focus of the meetings is to share information about new products, present solutions to problems, and provide technical tips to Informix programmers, system designers and database administrators. We feature guest speakers on topics of interest to Informix users. Meetings usually last from 9 am to 12 noon and are open to all Informix users. Please call 703-256-0267, or check our web page for the current schedule.

Mailing List: The waiug-members mailing list is for announcements, news about upcoming events, and discussions by members of the Washington Area Informix User Group. The main goal of this email list is to share information among Informix users in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC areas. The list is open to anyone who wishes to subscribe. To subscribe, email the Majordomo command "subscribe waiug-members" in the body of an e-mail message to "majordomo@iiug.org". Do not put commands in the Subject: header line, as it is ignored. If your address on the list needs to be something other than the one that appears on the "From:" line of your outgoing e-mail, use the Majordomo command "subscribe waiug-members your_address" where "your_address" is replaced by the address to which your list messages should be sent. Note that this request will be routed to the list manager for approval, so a subscription of this type may not take effect immediately.

One Day Forums and Training Days: The WAIUG holds Technical Forums and Training Days every year. The past events have averaged over 200 participants, with excellent speakers and exhibitors. Members report this is the most-anticipated and most practical user group event of the year. The forums have included technical sessions on Optimizing SQL, INFORMIX-4GL, INFORMIX-OnLine DSA Tuning, and new features in Informix products. The Forum also features a mini-exposition hall with exhibitors of products that work with Informix. This is a great opportunity to network with other database developers, administrators, and users, and learn the newest technology to get the most from your database systems. 

Web Page - www.iiug.org/~waiug/: In August 1995, we launched a web site for the Washington Area Informix User Group. The purpose of this site is to be able to provide the latest information to our members and the public on user group activities and tips on using Informix software. We converted all our newsletters to web documents and they are available for on-line viewing. This is the place to find the latest news about our meetings, future plans, links to other Informix-related material and catch up on back issues of our newsletter. We have a link to the Informix FAQ and links to other Informix resources on the net. 

International Informix User Group: The WAIUG was an active participant in the formation of the International Informix User Group (IIUG). All local members are automatically members of the international organization. The mission of IIUG is to support Informix users worldwide. The IIUG maintains a web site of information and technical tips for Informix users, and an ftp site of public domain software that works with Informix databases. For more information on the IIUG, visit the web page at http://www.iiug.org.

The Washington Area Informix User Group Mailing List

by Lester Knutsen

The waiug-members mailing list is for announcements and discussions by members of the Washington (DC, USA) Area Informix User Group. The main goal of this email list is to share information among Informix users in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC areas. This is a discussion place for user group members. The mailing list is the main method of communicating announcements and upcoming events to our membership.

The email list is sponsored by the International Informix User Group using the Majordemo mailing list software on the IIUG computer system. Seth Grimes has volunteered to manage the list.

Listed below are some key facts about the list. When the instructions say to use a particular Majordomo command, this means you should send the specified text in the body of an e-mail message to "majordomo@iiug.org".

Do not put commands in the Subject: header line, as it is ignored.

SUBSCRIBING - The list is open to anyone who wishes to subscribe. To subscribe, use the Majordomo command "subscribe waiug-members".

If your address on the list needs to be something other than the one that appears on the "From:" line of your outgoing e-mail, use the Majordomo command "subscribe waiug-members your_address" where "your_address" is replaced by the address to which your list messages should be sent. Note that this request will be routed to the list manager for approval, so a subscription of this type may not take effect immediately.

POSTING MESSAGES - You must be a subscriber to post to this list. Majordomo enforces this restriction by checking to see that the From: address of the posted message matches one of the subscriber addresses.

This restriction may cause problems at a site that subscribes an e-mail alias that explodes list messages to several local users. Individual users at such a site will not be able to post to the list unless they can make their messages appear to come from the local alias.

MESSAGE ARCHIVE - All messages posted to the waiug-members list are saved in monthly archive files. You must be a subscriber to this list to access the archive.


If you ever want to remove yourself from this mailing list, you can send mail to Majordomo@iiug.org with the following command in the body of your email message:

unsubscribe waiug-members

or from another account, besides the one on the list

unsubscribe waiug-members your-email-address

MORE INFORMATION - For more information about these and other Majordomo features, use the Majordomo command "help". To contact the list's manager, send e-mail to "owner-waiug-members@iiug.org".

Forum 2000 - March 10-11, 2000

by Nick Nobbe

We just wrapped up Forum 2000, a successful, event-packed two-day user conference, co-hosted by three major user groups on the U.S. eastern seaboard from Atlanta, Boston and Washington, DC, and by Informix. We registered over 275 people, most coming from the east. 

Highpoints of the conference were the keynote speech by Informix president and CEO, Jean-Yves Dexmier, a "meet the authors luncheon" with leading Informix-Press authors, and a full morning seminar on data warehousing by data warehouse guru Ralph Kimball. Informix added the finishing touch with a buffet dinner and entertainment by the "Capitol Steps" political comedy troupe, held in Washington's recently renovated Union Station. 

In his keynote address, Mr. Dexmier reassured the conference that Informix is committed to supporting the users and counts their involvement as essential. Informix is still planning to host the annual user conferences: plans are to hold one for the major regions - North and South America, Europe, and pan-Asia. Plans for this year's conference are still in the making. Informix is focused on taking the technological lead as an international database, business-intelligence, and e-commerce company. The current bright earnings picture and the company's strategic direction explain the recent acquisitions of Red Brick, Ardent, and Cloudscape. 

Forum 2000 Presentations On Our Web Site

by Lester Knutsen

I have been collecting the presentations from the speakers at Forum 2000 and converting and uploading them to our web site. The following presentations have been added to the Forum 2000 web site: http://www.iiug.org/~waiug/forum2000/forum2000.html

  • Web Administration for Informix Servers - Ray Canuel, Informix Software, Inc.
  • Tuning DSS Queries - Jack Parker, Engage Technologies
  • Developing Object-Relational Databases - Paul Brown, Informix Software, Inc.
  • Informix Performance Tuning and SQL Optimization - Kevin Fennimore, UCI Consulting
  • Cloudscape - Jim Bolton, General Manager of Cloudscape
  • Building Component Enterprise Architecture - Martin Terwilliger, FuGEN Technologies
  • Building a Web Enabled Data Warehouse - Lester Knutsen, ADTC & Jerry Bramstedt, USDA Farm Service Agency
  • Troubleshooting IDS - Ray Canuel, Informix Software, Inc.
  • Adapting Classic 4GL Code to a GUI Lifestyle - Jonathan Leffler, Informix Software, Inc.


by Ron M. Flannery 


I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Informix CEO and president, Jean-Yves Dexmier. I originally hoped just to obtain a quick phone interview with Jean-Yves, and was very surprised when he offered to meet me face-to-face in Detroit. 

This was my first interview with the CEO of a large corporation, so I didn't really know what to expect. I thought that the interview might be short and very businesslike and was extremely impressed with the way that Jean-Yves was truly friendly and interested in my opinions. He answered the questions quickly and with confidence. He was patient and seemed truly interested in my views.

Before the interview, I was slightly apprehensive about the direction of Informix. I've been a long time supporter of Informix, but was having trouble understanding the true direction of the company. Many people questioned some of the recent acquisitions like Ardent and wondered why Informix was placing so much emphasis on the "i.Economy," seemingly ignoring its core OLTP customers. I honestly can say that Jean-Yves relieved my fears and really made me understand where Informix is going. I remember feeling an internal "CLICK," sort of like a light bulb going off, as I realized that Informix has a very well-defined and strong direction.


Before I get to the interview I'd like to introduce some core concepts of the new Informix. Here is a list of some of the current products:

  • •Informix Dynamic Server.2000 (IDS.2000). IDS 2000 is a combination of the former IDS 7.3 and Universal Data Option 9.1 products and has been assigned the version number 9.2. It provides object-relational functionality built directly into the server, as well as retaining the database functionality that is the core of Informix's current customer base. Through at least June of 2000, Informix will provide a no-cost upgrade to IDS.2000 for 7.x or 9.x customers with currently active support (users may have to pay a higher support renewal cost). 

  • •Informix Internet Foundation.2000 (usually called Foundation.2000). Foundation 2000 offers all the functionality of IDS.2000 and provides several additional built-in products, including Web DataBlade, Excalibur's Text DataBlade and Java in the Server.

  • •Ardent. Recently acquired by Informix, Ardent is a company specializing in many data warehouse (Business Intelligence) solutions for reporting, data loading and cleansing. Their flagship product is considered to be DataStage, an ETL tool.

  • •Cloudscape. Another company that was recently acquired by Informix, Cloudscape's main product is a relational database that is written entirely in Java. It can run on any Java Virtual Machine, from handheld units to UNIX workstations to IBM mainframes. The Cloudscape database can communicate with many other relational databases.

  • •i.Sell. i.Sell is a complete E-commerce solution that uses Foundation.2000 as its core database. i.Sell is packaged as a full solution that includes both services and database products.

  • •i.Reach. i.Reach is a content management solution that provides a way to administer an online document repository. It provides many administrative tools that allow users to manage documents on an intranet or Internet site. Like i.Sell, this product also is presented as a complete solution.

  • •Media 360. Another recently acquired product, Media 360 is a specialty solution that facilitates the management of various digital assets, including both video and still pictures. It provides a digital repository of all data types, cataloguing of the data and comprehensive search capabilities.

All of these products are described in detail on Informix's Web site. They are all a core part of the future of Informix and Jean-Yves references them in the interview.


In addition to offering an expanded mix of products, Informix has reorganized itself into four Business Groups that permit the company to operate efficiently in the i.Economy (described shortly). Here is an overview of the groups:

  • •TransAct. Legacy Informix products. Includes OLTP systems and other transaction based systems, non-web DataBlades, INFORMIX-SE, IDS and other 7.x and below servers, INFORMIX-4GL, INFORMIX-SQL, Dynamic 4GL, Client SDK, etc.

  • •i.Intelligence. Business Intelligence (BI). All data warehousing tools and solutions including XPS, Metacube, Red Brick, Ardent, Visionary, etc.

  • •i.Foundation. Responsible for the core database server products (Foundation.2000), object-relational, Java, and XML. It provides the technology foundation that can be used to build a long term solution in the i.Economy. Includes all 9.x product lines and supporting tools.

  • •i.Informix. Solutions that include E-Commerce, media asset and document management. Includes business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B), E-Commerce, Media 360, i.Reach, and i.Sell.

This product and corporate information should help you understand the current state of Informix. The interview with Jean-Yves explains the reasoning behind this strategy as well as the future plans for Informix.


Following are excerpts from my interview with Jean-Yves Dexmier.

RON: What is the i.Economy?

JEAN-YVES: It is the new way of doing business. The Internet has changed the way that the world operates. Because of the massive amounts of data, different types of data, and need for immediate information, businesses need more powerful solutions. People want REAL TIME, instant results. Today's customer is concerned about SPEED to market, not time to market. This is the i.Economy.

Think about the types of data you access today: video, audio, movies, pictures and more. They generate massive storage and processing requirements. Your applications need to be able to store the data and display it in an efficient manner. 

Today's solutions have to be to be implemented FAST. Businesses move at "Internet speed." Companies can be created and go online within a matter of months. They need a strong technology that can get them online fast. Our products provide this capability. For example, our i.Sell solution allows users to create a fully functioning E-commerce site in as little as six weeks.

The i.Economy also calls for personalized content. Users demand immediate answers to their questions. They want to be able to click and receive immediate answers. For example, if a Web site knows about its customers, it can really help sell the company's products. This type of personalized solution requires a solid technology.

A simple way to describe the i.Economy is by defining the "i." It can mean three different things: 

  • •Individual - A Web user wants to access content that is customized to his or her needs and is shared between many individuals.

  • •Internet - The Web and the Internet provide the means to deliver this personalized content.

  • •Informix - The new "i." products from Informix can really help build a foundation for the i.Economy. That is why the core product of our new strategy is called Foundation.2000 - it provides a core building block for solutions in the i.Economy - much like building a solid foundation for your house.

RON: How does Informix plan to take advantage of the i.Economy?

JEAN-YVES: Three years ago, Informix saw the need for Internet-based solutions. That is why we have been creating technologies and purchasing companies that help enable solutions for the i.Ecomony. Because of that, we are positioned to be competitive well into the future.

Remember that the i.Economy is a new market. No one really owns it: not IBM, not Oracle, not Microsoft. With Informix's suite of products, we can claim all of these new customers that will be created by the i.Economy.

RON: Are these solutions available now?

JEAN-YVES: Yes they are. Through our aggressive product development and strategic acquisitions, Informix has the solutions now. Our flagship Foundation.2000 product provides a database server that has high end OLTP and data warehouse functionality as well as providing building blocks for new Internet applications. Foundation.2000 includes DataBlades, Java in the Server, and a lot of other functionality that is BUILT RIGHT INTO THE SERVER. Our primary competitors only can provide these capabilities through add-on products.

Our many other products give our users a way to implement the Internet solutions that are needed in the i.Economy. Cloudscape provides a small footprint Java database that allows synchronization between handheld devices, laptops or any other platform that can run Java. Media 360 includes digital asset management that allows you to manage digital data types like movies and video INSIDE the database server. Our object-relational technology allows the creation of data types for any type of data. Ardent is the leading business intelligence solution and provides many Internet hooks. i.Reach and i.Sell provide ways to manage content and E-commerce. All of these products can work directly with Foundation.2000 and can integrate with other products.

We believe that our database products and solutions provide a base for the i.Economy. These products exist and work NOW. Many of our competitors provide products that either don't work or are not well integrated with their database servers.

RON: But HOW does Foundation.2000 differ than the solutions of Oracle and IBM, for example? Everyone claims to have the complete Internet solution.

JEAN-YVES: Foundation.2000 was built to function in the i.Economy. Remember that we've had object-relational technology built into our server products for years, while the others have added the functionality onto their products or created external products. We have the solutions NOW, and the competitors must continue to try to catch up. In fact, when we first acquired Illustra, people said that we were too far ahead of the time. Now those same people know that the technology is critical for success in the future. Our solutions work and are reliable and scalable. And remember that this technology is based on our core Dynamic Server products, which have provided reliable OLTP and data warehouse solutions for years.

One of the biggest advantages are the UDTs (user-defined data types). UDTs allow database developers to create UDRs (user-defined routines) that operate on the data types. All of this is done inside the database server. It's flexible and easy to build on these solutions.

Our version of XML runs inside of Foundation.2000 and is 138 times faster than the competition. Again, it's built right into the servers. Oracle's solution is external, but they claim it'll eventually merge. IBM's solution only runs efficiently on IBM hardware. Our solutions work now.

RON: Many users questioned the acquisitions of Ardent. Can you provide more details on how it relates to the vision of the i.Economy?

JEAN-YVES: In the i.Economy, you don't know what the customer will want. Customers expect REAL TIME answers - BI (Business Intelligence). BI is mission critical in the i.Economy. When a user clicks, he wants immediate answers. Ardent is the leader in data integration and data movement. To build a BI solution you need to transfer data that pulls from various data sources, which also cannot be easily defined. Ardent's data movement utilities are the best solution in the industry. Along with Foundation.2000, Red Brick and our XPS products, Informix has closed the loop in BI. All of these products are enabled for the Web.

RON: I have heard a lot of Informix users complain that Informix seems to be focused on "high end" customers and solutions. They think that Informix has forgotten about its core OLTP and INFORMIX-4GL products, which make up a large part of its current revenue. How do you respond to this?

JEAN-YVES: Informix is well aware of our OLTP and 4GL user base. We understand that they are a big part of current revenue stream and we continue to support them. In fact, I created the TransAct Business Group to support IDS, SE, 4GL, and other such products. Users can upgrade to the Foundation.2000 products and continue to support their existing environment, but also have the capability to use our other products if they so choose.

RON: Where do you plan to take Informix in the next two to five years?

JEAN-YVES: We want to be the technology leaders in the i.Economy. You can see from our product developments and acquisitions that we are completely dedicated to our vision, and we feel that it is the future of technology. As I've said, there is a level playing field now in the i.Economy, and Informix plans to win the battles for the whole new set of customers that will be created. 

You can see that we are starting to win many of these new customers. Informix had a record quarter in the fourth quarter of 1999. Also, you can see from our stock price that the market realizes that Informix has solutions for the new ways of doing business.

RON: How will the new Business Groups [Transact, i.Intelligence, etc.] help Informix succeed?

JEAN-YVES: Informix's new Business Groups help separate the different components of our new structure. We've also decentralized many of our sales and support operations. This allows us to respond quickly to sales and customer needs.

RON: One of the main complaints of Informix followers has been the lack of marketing on the part of Informix. Many technologists think that Informix has the best database technology, but has had trouble getting the message out to the market. How do you plan to change this?

JEAN-YVES: I have allocated a major budget to marketing in 2000. I've hired Jim Marshall as our new marketing VP and we have launched an aggressive marketing campaign. We have placed billboard ads in dozens of airports and magazines, and are creating ads for television. We will work hard to make the public understand that Informix truly has the best solution for the i.Economy. 

RON: Any closing comments?

JEAN-YVES: Informix has vision. We understand the Internet and the way that business is changing. Our products work now and provide a base on which to create solutions in the i.Economy.


As you can see, Jean-Yves has created a well-defined vision and believes in it. One of the things that impressed me the most was the perception of other Informix employees (I talked to several): They all viewed the company's goals in that same light. This degree of understanding is unusual in a major corporation. 

I hope that this interview will help you better understand and appreciate Informix. My book's Web site at www.informixhandbook.com includes this entire article as well as many Web links, updated information and analysis. If you would like to provide feedback on this interview, send an E-mail to feedback@informixhandbook.com. Feel free to contact me with any other comments or questions.


Article by Ron Flannery
President, One Point Solutions (www.one-point.com)
Lead author of Informix Handbook (www.informixhandbook.com)
(My book's Web site at www.informixhandbook.com includes this entire article as well as many Web links, updated information and analysis.)

Informix Certification Study Group

by Bob Carts

Informix Certification Study Group Starting in May

An informal Informix Certification Study Group will be starting Wednesday, May 24, 2000. The objective of the study group is to prepare for taking the tests required for the Informix Certified System Administrator for Informix Dynamic Server 7.x. The two tests required to obtain this certification must be taken and passed prior to August 31, 2000. After August of this year, certification will be available in Informix Certified System Administrator for Informix Dynamic Server.2000 9.2.

The study group will meet for a total of 3 sessions (May 24, 31 and June 7) once a week from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Advanced Data Tools in Annandale. This is not a course or a substitute for training and experience. You should have a background in working with Informix as a DBA. At the sessions we will have someone who has taken the tests, explain the format and the approach to passing each test. At the last session we will have a sample test. You will have a chance to show off and explain the subjects you know and listen about subjects that you are unfamiliar with.

The sessions will be held at Advanced DataTools Corporation

Downstairs Conference Room

4216 Evergreen Lane, Suite 126

Annandale, VA

More information on the certification program is available on Informix's web site: http://www.informix.com/informix/training/courses/certific/welcome.htm

We have a limited number of slots available. When we fill up we will close the group. Please respond to Bob Carts to register or obtain more information (rcarts@agccs.LMCO.com, 703-813-2914)

Informix Race Car

As you may have heard, Informix is sponsoring a car racing team in the GrandAm and America Le Mans series. If you would like to see the car, emblazoned with the various Informix marketing messages, visit http://www.iiug.org/~seiug/news/team_informix.html for links to on-line images at several websites. 

These pictures are by Timothy Crete (tc@fastdetails.com) who has a great web site for racing fans at http://www.fastdetails.com


Informix White Papers and Tech Briefs

by Walt Hultgren

Informix provides a number of on-line sources for documentation and technical information. However, some are less well known than others. The on-line documentation top page www.informix.com/documentation/ lists the following areas: 

Answers Online -- www.informix.com/answers/ 

- manuals and other documentation in PDF and HTML formats 

Informix by Example -- examples.informix.com 

- fully annotated on-line examples 

Installation Resource - www.informix.com/informix/resource/ 

- documents related to installing Informix products 

And, of course there is a great deal of information available through the Informix Developer Network (IDN) pages. 

There are two other groups of documents on Informix's website, White Papers and Technical Briefs, that have top pages that are a bit more difficult to find at the moment. From the Informix home page, select the Corporate link. There are links to the two sections at the lower left of the Corporate top page. If you want to jump to the sections directly, the directories for White Papers and Tech Briefs are whitepapers/ and techbriefs/ respectively under www.informix.com/. You can reference each section's top page as such, or optionally append the file name "index.html" to the URL. 

White Papers tend to take a higher level approach to the subject matter and are often authored by third parties. Tech Briefs are more detailed and often version-specific. There is some overlap, though. It's helpful when versions are mentioned, since the document dates are not available to your browser, at least not to my relatively recent copies of Internet Explorer and Netscape. 

Many of the documents are reachable via the site's search facility, which does list creation dates. However, the search seems to sometimes miss documents. I don't know whether this is due to an error or some configured limit in the number of hits returned. 

Two Tech Briefs that have recently been added are: 


- XML (this reads more like a White Paper) 


- Enhancements to I4GL and ISQL in versions 7.20 and 7.30 

If you're looking for technical information on Informix products that is focused and current, I suggest to check out these two sources. 

Walt Hultgren, President, Southeast Informix Users Group 

Voice: 404-727-0648, Mailto:seiug@iiug.org

This newsletter is published by the Washington Area Informix User Group. 
4216 Evergreen Lane, Suite 136, Annandale, VA 22003
  • President - Nick Nobbe
  • Vice-President - Bob Carts
  • Secretary/Editor - Lester Knutsen
  • Membership Director/Treasurer - James Edmiston
  • Members at large - Sam Hazelett, Peter Wages, Charles Kaltwasser, Linda Knutsen, Peter Schmidt
  • Informix Representative - Barbara Myers
General Information: 703-256-0267Email:waiug@iiug.org Web Page: http://www.iiug.org/~waiug/