FAQ: How Does Sequel Data Access Go Beyond SQL?

August 10, 2020

SQL is powerful, flexible, and widely used in today’s technical environments. Still, it may not provide all of the functions and interfaces necessary to service the business intelligence needs of most organizations using IBM i. Sequel Data Access does. Sequel Data Access can build on the power of SQL because Sequel is an end to end solution for query, reporting, analysis – business intelligence for multiple levels of an organization.  

Have questions? Great—we’ve got answers to the most common questions SQL users ask before adding Sequel Data Access to their environment.


SQL is widely used for accessing data in our organization.  Why should we switch to Sequel? 

Sequel isn’t meant to replace all the uses of SQL in an IBM i shop. Standard SQL is a powerful tool for developers. Yet Sequel can help in going beyond SQL by offering built-in interfaces, data output options and deployment choices (or alternatives), and business user features that are not part of SQL. Sequel offers SQL writers the ability to use SQL within a tool that will lessen programming time and efforts and provide the business users in an organization with better business intelligence that leads to faster and more accurate decision making. 

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How does the Sequel syntax compare to SQL?

Sequel includes the options of using standard SQL or a ‘business-friendly SQL’ with its Sequel syntax.  Sequel’s business-friendly syntax provides built-in functions for things like converting numeric date data to date data type fields.  Sequel syntax also allows for the use of calculated column names that can be used in other calculated columns, record selections, and sorting.   Sequel provides multiple design interfaces so designers can choose to work with the interface that best fits their level of expertise.  For example, a technical SQL writer may use the free form SQL tab interface, while less technical writers may use a drag and drop tab interface or even easier wizard options.  No matter the syntax, Sequel offers the flexibility and power to access and transform raw data into the format needed without writing programs.  


Where do Sequel objects reside? How can we be sure they’re secure?

Sequel definitions are stored as user space objects on the IBM i, even when the data being accessed is on remote IBM i systems or are Microsoft SQL server or Oracle tables. Because Sequel definitions are user space objects, programmers can use IBM i object authority to retain control over what users are viewing, changing, and creating. In addition to IBM i object-level authority, Sequel offers library-, file-, field-, and row-level security.  You can rest assured that users won’t see anything outside of their authority.


We don’t want our users to have too much power. Can we control data access levels?

With Sequel, your organization has the option to keep data access securely in the hands of IT or give it to users in controlled levels. Some organizations require that business users only consume and analyze data in a BI type environment. Other organizations want the business users to have design capabilities either using database files directly or with limited design capabilities though wizards or templates. Sequel can be used as your organization deems desirable and necessary for enhancing information to all levels of the business.  


My IBM ERP is green screen-based. Can Sequel run from green screen menus?

Sequel is command-driven and includes a green screen interface with many menu items. Being command-driven, you can embed Sequel commands into your own applications or custom menus. For example, a menu item could request a report which prompts for run-time variables, with output sent to Excel or emailed as a PDF.

Sequel includes the green screen functionality as well as the Windows and Web interfaces in every license, which gives organizations the flexibility to provide information in a more modern way where needed.  


Speaking of commands…

Because Sequel is command-driven (behind the scenes), you can easily use Sequel’s built-in commands for integrating into 5250 menus, command line requests, scheduled jobs, and in CL programs.  Another key way to use commands is by taking advantage of Sequel’s scripting function which is akin to CL. You can combine processes and steps into a single Sequel script. Sequel scripts are powerful and can handle any Sequel or IBM i commands—no compiling necessary. For instance, a script can process and distribute reports. Or it might collect data from several local and remote databases, then consolidate the information before exporting it.

One of the benefits of Sequel Scripts is that they can be run anywhere – from IBM i command lines, via scheduled jobs, from Sequel’s Viewpoint Windows interface, or from the Sequel Web Interface.


We’re JDE users. Does Sequel work with JDE files?

Yes! Sequel’s built-in JDE logical file command (BLDJDELF) and connecting to a JDE driver makes querying against JDE files so much easier than it is with SQL. Plus, Sequel abides by JDE security rules and offers row-level security.


Does Sequel run against the new query engine?

Absolutely! The new query engine—SQL Query Engine (SQE)—helps you access data faster. SQE is especially useful if your organization has larger files and millions of records. You can run Sequel against the SQE to query all that data fast.


What if we need to convert numeric or character fields to date data fields?

You can—quickly and easily. With Sequel, you can use the CVTDATE function to convert numeric or character data fields to IBM i date data type fields.


What about run-time prompts—can we add them to our queries?

Yes, with Sequel you can add prompts so that users can complete selection criteria at runtime for things like date ranges, products, customers, SKUs, etc.  Prompts have built-in functions for pop up calendars, drop-down lists, multi-select lists, default values, and more.  Using run-time prompts is an excellent way to help users fulfill their recurring data requests without having to ask IT each time a change is needed.   


How will Sequel help us give information to business users?

Three words: access, analyze, deliver.

There are multiple ways to provide information to the users with Sequel.  A popular deployment method is to create customized dashboards by the user, department, manager, etc. Dashboards can contain data, graphs, gauges, action buttons (menu options), and more.  Dashboards are easy to create- business users can even create their own.  Dashboards can be accessed from the Sequel Web Interface in a browser or from Sequel Viewpoint, the design interface on a PC.

Users can also work from an Explorer-like interface where their Sequels are listed, and they run them on-demand as needed.  From almost any panel, data can be displayed, analyzed, downloaded to Excel, PDF, etc, and even emailed.  
An additional option for Excel enthusiasts is the Sequel Excel Add-in.  The Add-in allows the pulling in of data to an existing spreadsheet.  It’s a powerful and flexible way to refresh data to an Excel sheet whose formatting and calculations and charts are set.  

In all these ways, Sequel makes it easy for business users to access data on their own. All they need is basic Windows skills and the GUI or browser—and then they no longer need to wait for business information. 

And, don’t forget all the automated ways data can be delivered to the users with Sequel.   


Our users prefer PC files. Can Sequel export directly to Excel, PDF, and other PC formats?

Yes, in just one click, Sequel can output data to Excel, PDF, text, and many other formats. It’s immediate, and it helps you meet your users’ needs quickly. 

If a Sequel definition is being called from a menu or scheduled job, it is one command to direct the output to the needed format. 


How will Sequel help us give information to business users?

Three words: access, analyze, deliver.

Sequel makes it easy for business users to access data on their own. All they need is basic Windows skills and the GUI or browser—and then they no longer need to wait for business information.

Taking data and turning it into the usable information that business users need is also a breeze with Sequel. Business users gain the ability to work with the data interactively with drill-down or pivot analysis, graphical visualizations, or an Excel spreadsheet.

Plus, with Sequel, you can deliver the query so that users can simply click and run it when they need it. Or you can deliver the data to users directly via email or FTP and in the exact PC format they want (in just one click).


What about email? Is there an easy way to email results to users?

Absolutely. Sequel can email results with just a click, and in whatever format is needed – be it Excel, PDF, text etc.

Sequel output can also be emailed in PC formats from a menu or scheduled job with one command. 


How about FTP?

Yes! Sequel makes it simple for you to FTP the file to wherever the user needs it. No additional steps necessary.


What if we need help using Sequel?

Let us know. The HelpSystems technical support team is ready and waiting to answer your questions on live chat or a call. Whether you’d like advice on best practices or to learn how to use a new feature, you can count on us.


How long does it take to get to ROI? How much will we save?

Not long at all! Sequel is easy to implement and, as a result, offers a rapid return on investment (ROI). You can get up and running in under an hour. Since you have many options to license Sequel—from concurrent user-based options to an unrestricted license—you can find the right fit for your business.

Plus, Sequel protects your budget over the long-term. With Sequel, programmers can decrease the time it takes to get key information to business users and give users the ability to analyze and quickly respond to critical business situations.

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Sequel Data Access can help you go beyond the limits of SQL. With Sequel, it’s easy to turn data into useful information and deliver it to users in whatever format it’s needed in.

Get started with Sequel today. Start a free 30-day trial and see for yourself how easy it can be to get more out of your business intelligence.

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