I saw an impressive demo of the IBM Database Add-ins for Visual Studio 2005 at the IOD conference two weeks ago. Around the same time a new article appeared on developerWorks: Work with Informix Dynamic Server V11.10 and IBM Database Add-ins for Visual Studio 2005 V9.5 by Vasantha Jayakumar.
Version 9.5 of the Add-ins adds support for IDS, letting programmers do things like build Windows applications for IDS using drag-and-drop, and create CRUD (Create Read Update Delete) type applications in a few mouse clicks for the first time. The article shows how to do this and more in a few simple steps, with screen shots.
Where is the best place for Informix users to download v9.5 of the Add-ins? The Informix Dynamic Server for .NET website points to the a forum post containing the links: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/forums/dw_thread.jsp?forum=1137&thread=173080&cat=19 which leads you to the IBM Data Server Client among other things. The Visual Studio Add-ins are part of this package.
Update November 7 2007: A new version of IBM Data Server Client 1.1 has been posted here today.
Update November 13 2007: There is a known problem enumerating IDS database objects in the current version. See this forum article VS 2005 :Issue enumerating IDS 11.1 GA using DB2 9.5 GA -enumeration fails for a workaround.[Read More]
Administrating and Developing with Informix
Matching: vsai X
I finally made some time to play with the IBM Database Add-ins for Visual Studio 2005 V9.5 today. Simply dragging and dropping a data source onto a form resulted in a working BREAD (Browse, Read, Edit, Add, Delete) Windows application with no coding:
I used the recent developerWorks article by Vasantha Jayakumar as my guide. Below are some notes made while following it. They will make more sense if you read them after looking through the article.
If you want to use the Visual Studio Add-ins with IDS make sure you:
Finding the Server Explorer
Once I'd installed Data Server Client (including the Visual Studio Add-Ins) and launched Visual Studio 2005, my first challenge was to find the Visual Studio Server Explorer tool which was hidden under the View->Other Windows menu. Now with a glimmering of experience I use the "Ctrl-Alt-s" key combination to bring it up.
Adding a Connection
First I made sure my IDS data server was listening on a DRDA port. DRDA is the underlying communication protocol used by Data Server Client. IDS supports both the Informix-specific SQLI protocol and the IBM DRDA protocol in 11.10.
Setting up IDS 11.10 to communicate via DRDA is a simple 2 step process. Here's what I did for IDS on Windows:
If you have an older version of setnet32 you can add DRDA SQLHOSTS entries manually by editing HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Informix\SQLHOSTS and adding a key with a name matching the DBSERVERALIASES value, following the same format as pre-existing entries except with DRSOCTCP as the PROTOCOL.
When defining a new Data Connection in Server Explorer, use machine:port for the server name. Below is the Add Connection screen I used for a machine called swamp.
Once the connection was working it was easy to follow the steps in Vasantha's article. Tweaking the look and feel of a simple database application is a matter of editing the properties of the DataGridView in the Visual Studio editor. When editing a C# Windows application in Visual Studio there are two tabs, one showing a design view of the application, and one showing the C# supporting methods:
I'll confess to not being a C# programmer but the ease of creating a simple GUI C# application using these add-ins was encouraging. Now I'll start thinking of a practical application to tempt me to learn a little more.[Read More]
I've seen a lot of demo's in my time, and some of them look very flashy but miss a few of the set-up details and leave me wondering how to get started.
How many slides does a demo need to cover everything you need to know about installing IDS on Windows, CSDK, Open Admin Tool, IBM Database Add-ins for Visual Studio 2005, creating applications and web services, without missing a single detail?
How about 579?
Yes, Akmal B. Chaudhri has done just that. In a six-part series he has put together the most relentless and painstakingly detailed set of IDS on Windows slides ever assembled. The 579 slides in fact only represent the first 4 parts, which have recently been posted to the IBM developerWorks On Demand Demo's site.
The first 4 parts are available to download as 15 to 17 MB PDF files:
What I like about this is that it doesn't leave anything to the imagination, if you follow this you won't have any questions. At all. It's all there. All of it.
I'm looking forward to parts 5 & 6. Here is what to expect (Update 1/15/08 these demos have now been added):
IBM Database Add-ins for Visual Studio 2005/2008 used to be available as part of the IBM Data Server Client package, which contains all the main IBM data server drivers and a fair amount of DB2 client programs. It was a big package to install for a developer who just wanted to do .NET programming in Visual Studio. Now you can download the stand alone VSAI package here.
When you get to the download screen you can choose to download the 33 Mb VSAI executable, or the release notes. I'll warn you now the release notes are disappointing and not worth the bother. The VSAI software though is great. Try the VSAI tag on this blog for a few pointers to articles.
The IBM Information Management and Visual Studio .NET is also a good starting point for .NET programming resources.[Read More]