Appropriate Content: Informix Documentation Team
We are very excited about our new blog, as it gives us a way to let you know what's on our minds, share info that might find useful, and give you a chance to post your own comments and thoughts on the Informix documentation. Let us know where you'd like to see us go next with the product information, or just visit regularly and learn more about the things that keep the information developers awake at night!
We work hard on delivering what we think you, our customers, need in product information (which includes but is not limited to the product documentation that you see in our information centers and PDFs). We know that there's no shortage of things we can be working on, whether it's new documentation about the latest features, improvements to existing documentation, or new info resources like our onstat or onconfig Quick Reference Cards. So anytime we can get some direction and feedback from you, it makes a big difference in how we decide on what we do, and how we do it.
Here's the Informix Documentation Team:
I've been writing Informix documentation since 1996 (aka "the good old days"). I work on DataBlade module, Enterprise Replication, and embeddability documentation. I used to be the team lead of the Informix doc team and work on release notes, but (thank goodness) I'm only the technical lead now. Being the technical lead means, among other things, that I'm supposed to know the IDS doc set inside and out. I can honestly say I know the outside really well. I'm also the moderator for the 11.50 information center, so if you leave a comment, you might hear from me! My hobbies include driving my kids around and making up words I'm not allowed to use in Informix doc.
Hai-Nhu Tran (pronounced like the movie High Noon, but without the N at the end)
I'm the newly minted manager of the Informix Information Development team. I started at IBM in 2000, joined the Informix ID team as the Team Lead in 2007, and earlier this year I had the good fortune of becoming the manager of this dedicated group. I studied English literature in college and never would have guessed that I'd end up in software documentation! I'm currently working on instilling a life-long love of books in my 3 year old daughter, and so far I've been 100% successful. When I'm not reading Dr. Suess, I'm working through my own book list (which happens to occasionally include children's books, oddly enough), sampling the seemingly endless supply of restaurants and farmers' markets in San Francisco, and dreaming of being able to sleep in again at some point in my life.
Bill Belisle (pronounced: bell-eye-L)
People have been mis-pronouncing my name at IBM since June of 2006. I concentrate on writing about Informix high-availability (sometimes known as MACH-11) features. I’m also responsible for the Informix Administrator’s Guide, the Backup and Restore Guide, virtual appliance, and cloud documentation. I have a degree in journalism from Boston University and have written several college-level textbooks on Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft Office and Excel. My hobbies include (in no particular order): astronomy, machining and metalworking, woodworking, CNC, photography, reading, seismology, and high-vacuum thin-film deposition.
I’ve also been writing Informix documentation since 1996, initially specializing in online help. Currently, I’m concentrating on updates to the Migration and Performance Guides and on new feature documentation (such as compression). In the past, I’ve worked on the Common Criteria certification guide, the Administrator guides, and MTK documentation.
Karin Moore (pronounced car-in)
I've been on the Informix documentation team since 1996, and am currently the infrastructure lead. What that means is that I create, update, and deliver the information centers, documentation CDs, and techdocs. I also manage source file control, automated builds of the documentation sets, and translation. It's a nice variety of work that lets me dabble in all the Informix products. My hobbies include birdwatching, hiking, gardening, and caring for injured animals at a local wildlife rehabilitation center.
Johanna Turaj (pronounced tour-eye)
I joined the documentation team in February of this year. Though I’ve been doing Information Development since 19<mumble>, I’m the new kid on the Informix block. In my role as Team Lead for IDS, 4GL, and some other acronyms, I get to learn about all the products and develop plans to help the team deliver helpful information you need when you need it. I enjoy travel, knitting, and keeping my cats off the keyboard.
I'm the technical editor for the Informix writing team. I work with the writers to produce the best possible documentation for our customers. I'm not an expert in the technology we write about (that's my team's job), but I'm familiar with the technology and terminology, and I review the documentation to ensure that it tells customers what they need to know as accurately, concisely, and clearly as possible in a consistent manner. Rest assured, I won't be editing this blog (phew!) so the writers will get to express themselves in their own "voice". Oh, and my name is pronounced as it's spelled (http://www.medjugorje.org/croatianlanguage.htm).
Information development is my "second" career. I launched my career in book publishing production and project management--a good foundation for handling a lot of the behind-the-scenes work in creating technical documentation. During the Sturm-und-Drang of the dot-com era, I gained experience documenting database migration and a few end-user applications. Along the way, I earned a B.A. degree at Oberlin College and a Technical Writing Certificate at San Francisco State University. I speak German as a second language, and have a beginner/intermediate knowledge of Spanish.
Hi! My path to technical writing was the "road less travelled". I graduated with a degree in Economics and went to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington DC. Through various twists and turns there I moved into courseware development and teaching computer applications, which eventually lead me to IBM about 10 years ago where I have worked on Informix and DB2. With the Informix team I work on a wide range of documentation from the Administrator's Reference and SQL Reference to the Common Client information. Most recently I have been working on improving our warehousing documentation.
Tom Houston (pronounced the opposite of the similarly-spelled street in Manhattan)
I was employee #237 when Informix was still called "RDS Software" in Menlo Park, California, and I have been monitoring the Informix Technical Publications external email alias since it was called "firstname.lastname@example.org" (but it is now spelled "email@example.com"). I mostly work on the IBM Informix Guide to SQL: Syntax, which keeps me busy documenting new SQL features and correcting the errata that I create while documenting new SQL features (or while correcting older errata). Among my hobbies are photography, dreaming, and trying to outwit spelling-checker software.
I've been with IBM Informix since 2008. I write the UI text and help for OAT. I once wrote longer sentences.
I'm not officially a member of the Informix Documentation Team. I've been responsible for usability and user interface design on Informix products since 2006 and am heavily involved in the UI design of OAT. I am a professionally trained Human Factors Engineer/Psychologist and have been working in the human computer interaction and design field for more than 25 years.
I'm currently a remote co-op or supplemental employee on the Informix ID team working in Socorro, NM. I have been with the Informix team since 2008 and have worked both full- and part-time. A majority of my tasks deal with DITA markup such as migrating books from SGML to DITA. Recently, I have begun to work with development teams in India to produce documentation for the 4GL and CSDK components of IDS. I am responsible for all documentation with in 4GL and CSDK. I'm currently pursuing a degree in Technical Communication from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
Here are some tips for using the IDS info centers.
To search a particular topic or a set of topics in the 11.50 info center:
1. Select the topic in the left-hand side navigation tree.
2. Click Search Topics on the toolbar above the navigation pane.
3. Choose Search this topic or Search this topic and all subtopics. A search dialog box appears.
4. Enter your query in the Search field, and click OK.
Note that the procedure for doing this in the v10.0 or v11.10 info center is a bit different; you select the topic and then click the arrow next to the topic title.
You might have noticed that no matter where you go in the info center, the URL stays the same. Each topic, however, does have a unique URL. To copy the URL of a particular topic, select the topic title in the navigation tree, right-click it, and choose Copy Shortcut or Copy Link Location. Topics that come from books also have the URL at the very bottom of the topic.
Subscribing to information center updates
You can subscribe to the IDS information center RSS feed to stay up-to-date with the latest updates in the information center. You can add this feed to your preferred RSS reader. When the information center is updated, you will receive a notification in your selected RSS reader with a link to the updated content. Looks for the RSS link on the information center home page.
Improving your search results
Use the following techniques to improve the search results that are returned:
· Search for exact words or phrases by using double quotation marks. For example, if you enter "log file" in the Search field, you search for all occurrences of the string log file. Without the double quotation marks, the search returns topics that contain instances of both the word log and the word file.
· Use wild card characters, such as the asterisk (*) and question mark (?):
o Use an asterisk (*) for multiple unknown or variable characters in the search query. For example, if you enter par*, the search returns topics that contain partly, participate, partial, and other words that begin with par.
o Use a question mark for a single character in the search query. For example, if you enter par?, the search returns topics that contain part, but not partial or partly.
· Use Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT to make your search more specific:
database AND "log file"
Narrows the search to return any topics that contain both the term database and the phrase log file.
database OR "log file"
Widens the search to return topics that contain either the term database or the phrase log file.
database NOT "log file"
Narrows the search to return any topics that contain database and that do not contain the phrase log file.
database OR "data base" NOT "log file"
Searches for topics that contain either the term database or the phrase data base and that do not contain the phrase log file.
About a year ago, we decided to try something different for certain kinds of information: quick reference cards. They are designed to be printed out on a single piece of paper, both sides. We currently have two quick reference cards, both of which represent 11.50.xC6 information: one for onstat commands and one for the onconfig.std. When we originally published them, they were 8.5"x11" size, but since then there were a few additions to onstat and onconfig.std, so now they are both legal sized.
onstat quick reference card
onconfig.std quick reference card
We are hoping to create other quick reference cards this year, but we need your help! Let us know what you'd like to see. Here are some possibilities:
This post is from Howard Glaser, the Informix usability expert. He attended the IIUG conference last week.
I want to thank all of the 2010 IIUG Conference attendees who provided feedback in our Usability Sandbox and customer sessions at the conference. Your feedback is invaluable in making IDS even better! Below is a list of the usability sessions that were held at the conference. Let us know if there are additional usability topic areas that you would like to see at future conferences (please write to firstname.lastname@example.org).
• Hands on experience test driving the latest Schema and Storage Manager UIs for the OpenAdmin Tool
• A sneak peak and feedback on the new IDS Installation and Configuration Tooling/UI: A group walkthrough discussion with the IDS Dev team
• A sneak peak and feedback on the new IDS Deployment Tooling/UI: A group walkthrough discussion with the IDS Dev team
• Your opportunity to give your input on useful sources and resources for solving problems encountered while using IDS: An examination of current and future resources followed by a group exercise to provide your preferences
• How Optim may be used for problem determination and resolution with IDS: A walkthrough and group discussion
The new Informix Products information center has all the documentation for older Informix server and CSDK versions, 4GL, DataBlade modules, and other tools.
Instead of clicking around over 2000 Pubs Library web pages, you can now find all the titles on one site!
To find the title you are looking for, just enter it in the search box in the upper left-hand corner and click Go.
These URLs are now redirected to the new information center:
If you have any feedback on the new information center, please let us know!
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Okay, you’ve skimmed the release notes and see that the new release has a number of new features. Then you see that the description of each new feature refers you to one or more user guides. You’re especially interested in one new feature, but think, "I still have dozens of things to do and don’t have time to try to look through whole the book or parts of it."
All you need to do is go to the IDS Information Center and expand a category, such as "Administering" or "Security." Then find the "What's New" topic in each book. In some books, it's the first topic; in other books, it's in the Introduction chapter.
Each row in the table of new features in the "What’s New" topic contains the same short feature description that you saw the release notes. The row also contains links to the topics that have been added for the new feature or updated to include information on the new feature. Just click the link to go to the new or updated topic.
If you’re using PDFs, just open the PDF and navigate to the "What’s new" topic or search for the words "What’s New." Then find the row you want and click the link to jump to the desired topic.
Here's an example of the "What's New" topic in the Administrator's Guide:
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A number of years ago when my kids were small (ages 6 and 9) I planned a full-day “boys-only” one-day adventure/trip to the Grand Canyon. After driving to our local airport, we boarded a small America West Bombardier Dash 8 twin-engine prop plane. Neither had ever been on a plane with propellers and I could see the excitement on their faces.
After a short bumpy flight, we landed at the Grand Canyon Airport near Tusayan at the entrance to the South Rim. We spent the day admiring one of the most amazing natural wonders in the world. I was imagining the impact the beauty was having on them, the rich cultural experience, and how they would remember this trip for the rest of their lives.
Or so I thought. When we returned, each of my boys had one thing to report about what they saw that day. The younger one said: “I pushed a button on a Coke machine and I got a free soda!” The older one said (while pointing to a spot on his lower back): "We saw a girl with hair this long!” Mom squinted her eyes at me as if to say “What did you guys really do today?”
The same is true with documentation. Often, writers believe they have produced one of the written wonders of the world but all that people remember is the trouble they had logging in to the system. Let us know what you take away from a journey through Informix documentation. After using the Informix Information Center, be sure to tell us the following:
And yes, we even want to know if you had trouble logging in.
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Although it seems archaic now, before digital cameras and photo printers exploded in popularity, people recorded their photographic images on light-sensitive film. When film was popular, I used to teach an introductory photography class at Boston University. Each week, students would receive an assignment that emphasized a basic photographic technique, such as depth of field or stopping motion with a high shutter speed. Students would shoot their own photographs, bring the film to the school darkroom, and develop and print their photographs.
Every Monday night, students would take their painstakingly hand-developed and printed 8 by 10 images and thumbtack them to corkboard that surrounded the classroom. The entire class went around the room and critiqued each person’s photos. In these sessions, technique was graded along with composition, subject matter, and so on. Because students often were marked lower because of fingerprints, scratches, or dust on their negatives, these sessions naturally became known as negative feedback sessions.
The instructions that follow show how to leave feedback about the Informix documentation – either negative or positive.
For best results, use Microsoft® Internet Explorer Version 6.x or Version 7.x or Mozilla Firefox Version 2.x or Version 3.0. Mozilla Firefox Version 3.5 or later might provide inconsistent behavior.
You can rate topics based on your level of satisfaction by clicking a star at the top of the topic pane. Ratings are based on a 5-star scale.
Comment on an entire topic or selected text within the topic
There are three kinds of comments:
* Comments on the topic in general
* Comments on an element of the topic (for example, a heading or sentence)
* Comments on a section of content that you select
To add a comment:
Reply to comments
To reply to an existing comment, click the Reply link under the comment in the comment pane, and add your response to the comment in the pop-up window.
Delete your comments
You can delete the comments that you added before authors or other reviewers reply to them. Click the Delete link below the comment.
Subscribe to pages or the entire site, to be notified of new comments
You can watch specific topics to get email notification of any comments to them. Click the Watch this Page link in the upper right corner of the topic pane.
To stop watching topics, use one of the following methods:
Click the RSS Subscribe link to receive updates in your RSS feed reader.
You can also get notification of major updates in the information center by subscribing to the information center RSS feed.
You might have noticed the complete lack of social niceties like "please" in Informix documentation. Occasionally, I do get messages to review from developers that say things like "Please read the Guide to SQL: Syntax for information on the syntax." Or even better: "Please contact IBM Software Support." I have to take out the "please" because it is against IBM style guidelines.
The official IBM Style guideline on "please" instructs us not to use "please" in IBM technical information: Terms of politeness are superfluous, convey the wrong tone for technical material, and are not regarded the same way in all cultures.
In some cultures, when you use a word like "please," it indicates that the action mentioned is optional. We have to take into account that our documentation will be translated and also that it will be read in English by people whose first language is not English.
So you see, we are not being rude--just authoritative!
The Informix onconfig.std portal is a handy way of finding functionally related configuration parameters. The configuration parameters are listed together, in the same order as in the onconfig.std file, with links to the individual topics for each configuration parameter. You might want to bookmark this portal:
The onconfig.std portal topic is in the Administrator's Reference, in the Configuration Parameters chapter.
If your list of bookmarks is disorganized like mine, you can find the link on the home page of the v11.50 information center, or just type "onconfig portal" into your favorite search engine.
Can't remember which onstat command shows you the information about the server that you are looking for? Try the onstat portal.
The onstat portal organizes onstat commands by functional area, with links to the individual topics for each command.
The onstat portal topic is in the
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You can use the SQL administration API to remotely administer Informix through SQL statements. Many of the operations are the same ones that you can complete with command line utilities. The advantage of using the SQL administration API functions is that you can run them remotely from other database servers; whereas you must be directly connected to the database server on which to run command line utility commands. If you haven't used SQL administration API commands, look at the SQL administration API documentation and try using some of the commands!
The SQL administration API portal topic lists all SQL administration API function arguments, sorted by category, with links to information about the arguments. This portal topic is in the SQL Administration API chapter in the IBM Informix Administrator's Reference and in the "SQL administration API functions" section of the Version 11.50 Information Center:
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If you have Informix Version 11.50, you can use SQL administration API commands to compress row data in a table or in one or more table fragments. You can also use SQL administration API commands to consolidate free space in a table or fragment, return this free space to the dbspace, and estimate the amount of space that is saved by compressing the data.
If you haven't tried compressing your data and want more information on this well-received feature, start by opening the "What's new" topic in the Administrator's Guide or Administrator's Reference and then navigate to the topics on compression.
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it can be idling one moment and then processing thousands of transactions
the next with no apparent stress.
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A few weeks ago, I mentioned that in Version 11.50 you can use SQL administration API commands to compress row data in a table or in one or more table fragments.
In Version 11.50, you can also compress indexes by merging two partially used index pages if the data on those pages totals a set level. You can specify the index compression level by modifying the value of the compression field of the BTSCANNER configuration parameter, by running an onmode -C command with a compression value, or by running an SQL administration API function with the SET INDEX COMPRESSION argument. For more information on this and other new performance-related features, see the "What's new in performance" topic in the Introduction of the Version 11.50 Performance Guide.
For more information on SQL administration API commands, see the "SQL administration API" section of the Administrator's Reference. The "SQL administration API portal: Arguments by functional category" topic, which is in the "SQL administration API" section of the Administrator's Reference, is a handy list of all of the SQL administration API commands you can use.