CICS Explorer V5.4 provided, among other things, a quick filter option to examine your CICS resources in more detail. Now, CICS Explorer V5.5 adds aggregation support. This is similar to the CPSM WUI’s summarize function and offers a new way to look for anomalies in your CICS resources and definitions.

To try the aggregation function out, you’ll need CICS Explorer V5.5 and to enable the CMCI JVM server within CICS TS V5.5. (more details in the Knowledge Center).

Aggregation – an example

We’ll introduce the idea of aggregation with a scenario; you’ve received a report from one of your users that your application is failing intermittently. The error message is something to do with a file.
We open the Local Files view to get started. There’s a lot of data in the open files view and we’ll need to cut this down somehow.

CICS Explorer with a lot of Local Files entries

We know that the app in question is installed across a few regions and uses a few different files – ACCOUNT, LOG, and CUST. A quick way to start to make sense of the data in the Local Files view would be to use the new aggregation feature to group on the name of the file. We do this by right-clicking on the Name column and choosing Group By.

CICS Explorer showing context menu in a Resource Table with Group By enabled

Grouping by Name collects resources together so that each row represents multiple resources with the same name. Attributes in other columns are aggregated by details they have in common and using asterisks (*) where there is a difference. This means you can quickly spot differences between large numbers of similar records by looking for *s!

In the next screenshot, you can see that out of the 33 files, we have 8 unique names. The Name column, which is the grouping column, is highlighted and brought to the left hand side for clarity. The Count column on the far left indicates how many resources are represented by each row.

CICS Explorer showing aggregated content with the LOG entry highlighted

Also in the same view, for LOG files, we can see that there are 3 resources with a common region name of IYCWEZ*1 between them, where the * indicates that there is a difference between some of the resources. The status of the records also appears to be different between the 3 records because it is shown as ****. We want to see what that difference is. We do that by right-clicking on the row and choosing Expand. This opens a new view next to the local files view we were using and you can see that expand has automatically added a filter for the file name “LOG”.

The expanded log view shows that the LOG file has been disabled on IYCWEZH1. This is likely the cause of the intermittently failing application.

CICS Explorer showing view expanded on Log entries with disabled entry highlighted

More control over aggregation

We’ve also introduced two new toolbar buttons to the views, that provide some additional control over how aggregation works. The first button allows you to toggle aggregation of records. The second button shows a menu with options to customize grouping and aggregation (screenshot below).

CICS Explorer showing aggregation toolbar buttons and context menu

The menu options in this second toolbar button allow you to see and change exactly what groups you have set, and the way attributes are aggregated, such as taking the average, maximum, minimum, or sum for numeric fields.

If these toolbar buttons are disabled, the most likely reason is that you’ve not yet set up the server correctly.

You can find more detail about the specifics of using and configuring aggregation in the CICS Knowledge Center.

Taking this further

We’d love to hear your thoughts once you’ve tried this; do comment on this blog post with suggestions or questions. We’ll be providing more blog posts in the near future that will take you through some more advanced ideas like how you can use new GraphQL API that provide support for aggregation in your own applications and scripts.

2 comments on"CICS Explorer V5.5 – spotting anomalies in your resource tables with aggregation"

  1. paulo guilherme moraes de oliveira April 17, 2018

    I suggest that new features be added in graphql such as: remedies that automatically handle resource usage problems. For example: db2 not connected, the system gives an alarm and try to connect db2 to CICS at least three times.

  2. Thanks, Paulo. GraphQL is a feature that allows us to create new APIs – our first use has been to request data from CICS in richer ways.

    For your example of Db2 connection problems, we’d suggest using CICS Policies (https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/en/SSGMCP_5.4.0/fundamentals/policies/policy-system-rules.html) to drive an event that triggers an EP Adapter – in this way you can run a transaction as required to reconnect.

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