z/OS concepts
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What is a generation data group?

z/OS concepts

In z/OS®, it is possible to catalog successive updates or generations of related data, which are called generation data groups (GDGs).

Each data set within a GDG is called a generation or generation data set (GDS). A generation data group (GDG) is a collection of historically related non-VSAM data sets that are arranged in chronological order. That is, each data set is historically related to the others in the group.

Within a GDG, the generations can have like or unlike DCB attributes and data set organizations. If the attributes and organizations of all generations in a group are identical, the generations can be retrieved together as a single data set.

Advantages to grouping related data sets include:

  • All of the data sets in the group can be referred to by a common name.
  • The operating system is able to keep the generations in chronological order.
  • Outdated or obsolete generations can be automatically deleted by the operating system.

Generation data sets have sequentially ordered absolute and relative names that represent their age. The operating system's catalog management routines use the absolute generation name. Older data sets have smaller absolute numbers. The relative name is a signed integer used to refer to the latest (0), the next to the latest (-1), and so forth, generation.

For example, the data set name LAB.PAYROLL(0) refers to the most recent data set of the group; LAB.PAYROLL(-1) refers to the second most recent data set; and so forth. The relative number can also be used to catalog a new generation (+1). A generation data group (GDG) base is allocated in a catalog before the generation data sets are cataloged. Each GDG is represented by a GDG base entry.

For new non-system-managed data sets, if you do not specify a volume and the data set is not opened, the system does not catalog the data set. New system-managed data sets are always cataloged when allocated, with the volume assigned from a storage group.

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