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Information You Can Use

Using the Internet to Access Informix-Based Resources

Carlton Doe

Author's Note: This article was originally written for the first issue of Informix User Group News, the IIUG newsletter, which was published for the July 1995 I.W.U.C. in San Jose, CA. Since that time, it has been used by severallocal User Groups in their own newsletters. Recently it was published in the Informix technical journal TechNotes, Volume 5, Issue 4, 1995. The text that follows is from that most recent publication.

If you want the original, expanded, not-professionally edited and cleaned up version, you can get a uuencoded MS WORD copy via ftp from here.

Please note that many of the services listed below belonging to emory.edu have now moved to iiug.org.

Introduction

A growing number of Informix users are finding that some of the benefits of a traditional user group can be obtained electronically via the Internet. There are several worldwide forums which allow users to obtain technical advice, share programming tricks, or hear the latest Informix-related news, all without leaving the terminal or workstation. This article is intended to help the reader use the basic tools of the Internet to access Informix-related information.

The main suite of tools used is the Usenet group comp.databases.informix, a World Wide Web browser, anonymous ftp, electronic mail, telnet, and a search service called "archie." More about these and other tools is contained in several well-written books on the Internet which are available at most bookstores.

Most online services, for example, CompuServe, America Online (AOL), Prodigy, etc., used to access the Internet have graphical applications which allow for file access via ftp or the World Wide Web (WWW). These services often have help files which explain how to use the application, as well as the etiquette involved. To a lesser extent, this is also true for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) where the access platform is usually Windows, Macintosh, or UNIX. ISPs offer a collection of graphical tools which allow for point-and-click navigation through the Internet. To set up a PPP/SLIP/CSLIP connection through an ISP, use a mixture of graphic or command line utilities, either loaded on the main server or on a remote computer, depending on individual needs and abilities.

At the end of this article is a list of computer systems which have Informix-oriented tools, utilities, or information. This list is maintained by the International Informix Users Group and is located at a temporary World Wide Web site. In the near future, it will relocate to iiug.org

Deciphering the Address


At first glance, a computer address looks confusing. However, the address provides information required to access the computer and where to find the information once there. For example, in the address of "http://www.informix.com/", the "http://" indicates that a WWW browser must be used. In the computer name of "www.informix.com", the www preface indicates that the computer will respond in a hypertext-based format which allows for point-and-click navigation. In the address of "ftp.xyz.com/pub/informix/my_neat_stuff", it is necessary to use anonymous ftp to log into a computer called "ftp.xyz.com." once logged in, the information will be found in the "/pub/informix/my_neat_stuff" directory. While most computer systems administrators follow this format to identify their computers, names that have neither www or ftp sometimes appear at the beginning. In this case, try a WWW browser first and then an anonymous ftp.

Usenet


For those unfamiliar with the term, "Usenet" is the name given to a collection of thousands of computer systems worldwide running software which allows them to act as one large distributed bulletin board system (bbs). Subscribers read and post news articles from their local systems, while background software controls the distribution of articles to other news sites. A "newsgroup" is analogous to an individual discussion forum on a typical small bbs. There is a newsgroup, comp.databases.informix, specifically oriented to Informix-related issues. Special software, readily available from either an online service or ISP, is required to read and post messages to this or any other newsgroup. comp.databases.informix is dedicated to technically-oriented discussions about the use and support of Informix software and related products. Topics include all Informix products, from C-Isam to Informix-NewEra, plus third-party products. Membership is open to anyone, including end users, vendors, and employees of Informix Software, Inc. The newsgroup is not moderated, so subscribers are solely responsible for the content. All contributions are welcome, as long as substantive information is emphasized.

World Wide Web

Of the tools mentioned earlier, the most widely discussed is the WWW. From a simple-to-use graphical browser, such as Netscape or Mosaic, it is possible to point-and-click through a series of Hypertext links to find information. Hypertext links are no different to use than the help section of any Windows, Macintosh, or X-Window application. With the WWW, this feature is expanded: these links can be used to access files on another computer located elsewhere on the Internet.

WWW files have the capability to display graphical images, as well as text, animation, sound, or video clips, and convert these to Hypertext links. "Surfing the Web" is perhaps the best way to explore the various and sundry topics that the Internet encompasses.

Anonymous ftp


Anonymous ftp is one of the most useful tools available on the Internet. FTP, or file transfer protocol, enables a user to login to a computer and copy files from it. Primarily a command line utility, the login name of "anonymous" can be used, together with a personal email address as a password. Once logged in, a user has a restricted ability to move around the directories to look at the available file names. However, a user cannot see the contents of the files unless they are copied back. This is accomplished using the "get" command. Help for any of the ftp commands, or ftp itself, is available by typing the word "help" while in the ftp session.

The following primer on command line based anonymous FTP (provided by Walt Hultgren), is in the form of a sample session on ftp.mathcs.emory.edu with comments in brackets "{}". Lines which require that the user type entries are marked with "<<<" and the suggested entries are in bold type.

% ftp ftp.iiug.org     {or: ftp 204.167.252.80}   <<<
Connected to ftp.iiug.org
220 FTP server ready.
Name (ftp.iiug.org:walt): anonymous       <<<
331 Guest login ok, send ident as password.
Password: walt@rmy.emory.edu    {use your e-mail address here} <<<
230 Guest login ok, access restrictions apply.
ftp> cd pub/informix         <<<
250 CWD command successful.
ftp> get README          <<<
200 PORT command successful.
226 ASCII Transfer complete.
    {once copied to your system, you could read the contents of
    the file then continue on}
ftp> get ls-lR         <<<
200 PORT command successful.
226 ASCII Transfer complete.
     .
    .    {repeat this step for each file you want}
     .
   ftp> quit           <<<
  221 Goodbye.
   %

A WWW browser utility can be used to accomplish the same result.

Electronic Mail


Electronic mail or email provides the ability to exchange written messages with others. Email can also be used to retrieve files from ftp servers and to participate in several Informix-oriented mailing lists. The main Informix mail list is "informix-list", and is currently based on the system rmy.emory.edu, located at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Membership in the list is open to anyone, including end users, vendors, and employees of Informix Software, Inc. There are no subscription or registration fees. The lists are unmoderated; members are solely responsible for its content.

Informix-List carries technically-oriented discussions related to the use and support of Informix products and related third-party offerings. It is gatewayed with the Usenet newsgroup comp.databases.informix. Messages posted to Informix-List are also posted to c.d.i automatically.

To subscribe to Informix-List, send email to "informix-list-request@rmy.emory.edu" with the following information:

  1. The email address or alias to be added to the list;

  2. The user's name (not just a login id);

  3. Organization or company name;

  4. Postal address; and

  5. Voice phone number.

Telnet


Telnet is used to log into computers on the Internet. Telnet is most often used to gain access to public service computers containing such items as library card catalogs and other databases, as well as search tools like "archie". Most computers which allow general public telnet sessions also require the use of specific login IDs and passwords. This information should be included with the computer name or displayed when connecting a telnet session to the computer.

Archie


Archie is a software program which runs on some servers and helps to locate files that exist on other publicly accessible computers. There are a number of Archie sites around the world (archie.rutgers.edu, archie.au, archie.funet.fi, archie.wide.ap.jp, etc.). Once logged in to archie via telnet, the program can be prompted to find file names which contain specific keywords or to suggest files whose descriptions contain certain keywords. Archie will return the computer name and location of the file(s) which match specific search criteria. If using a graphical-based archie tool, such as X-Archie, it is possible to click on the returned reference to log onto the referenced computer via anonymous ftp, and download the file to a computer.

Conclusion


The intent of this article was to remove some of the mystery surrounding the use of Internet tools. The files to be accessed, the tools, as well as the people to be contacted while using Internet resources, can be a tremendous source of information for use in the Informix environment. An abstract of this article was published in Informix User News, Volume 1, Issue 1, 1995.

Appendix A: InformixLink


InformixLink, the interactive, online Informix information service, is designed to provide access to the most up-to-date information about Informix products, programs, and services. In addition to the public area of InformixLink, there is a special TechInfo Center technical support subscription service, available via the World Wide Web, CD-ROM, and dial-up service.

InformixLink provides company and product news and information, including issues of Informix Times and other electronic magazines, platform release status, recent financial results, and annual user conference registration materials.

InformixLink offers access to a complete library of information about:

  • Products like INFORMIX-OnLine Dynamic Server and INFORMIX-NewEra;

  • Services, including the latest offerings in training and specialized support options;

  • Programs, seminars, and special promotions; and

  • Technical information, including defects, ports, alerts, and questions and answers.

The InformixLink Web interface offers point-and-click graphical capabilities, extensive indexes, and links to related material which allows end users to navigate, with little effort, through a vast store of information.

Informix's World Wide Web site, InformixLink, is accessible at the following URL (universal resource locator):

http://www.informix.com/

Technical Prerequisites

To access InformixLink, an end-user system must have the following:

Hardware
Minimum 80386SX-based machine with 4MB of RAM-recommended 33 MHz or faster. 80486-based machine with at least 8 MB of RAM, or 68K Macintosh ® or Power Macintosh or X Windows system

Software
Windows (TM) 3.1 in 386-enhanced mode, WinSock 1.1-compliant Windows sockets library (available via either freeware or shareware) or standard Macintosh operating system or standard X-Windows operating system

Network
TCP/IP, or ability to operate in local mode

Format
HTML2

Browser
Browser of choice that allows browsing World Wide Web in local mode, or NCSA's latest available browser

File Structure
DOS structure (8.3), numeric sequence

TechInfo Center
User number, login, and associated passwords

Problem Reporting

To report a problem, call 1 800 274 8184 and select option 4 (North America), or contact a local Informix office (outside North America).

TechInfo Center

In addition to the information contained in the public areas of InformixLink, Assurance, OpenLine, and Regency customers are entitled to access the TechInfo Center which includes access to:

  • Product defects and workarounds;
  • Technical tips and techniques;
  • Porting information;
  • Interactive product discussions; and
  • Knowledge bases and computer-based training.

Registration Procedure

To access TechInfo Center, enter:

http://www.informix.com/services/services.htm

To register, fill out an InformixLink Order Form on the WWW, fax it to Customer Services at 1 913 599 8425; or call 1 800 331 1763 (North America) or a local Informix office (outside North America). Provide the appropriate product serial number to facilitate setting up the account.

Appendix B: Informix Related Resources


Author's Note: Click here for the updated page (in HTML) on this server.

Following are some additonal URLs which are Informix related.

General Information

http://www.informix.com/
Informix corporate home page.

news:comp.databases.informix
Usenet newsgroup discussing technical issues related to Informix products and services.

informix-list@rmy.emory.edu
Email mirror of c.d.i. for those who do not have Usenet access. Send email to "informix-list-request@rmy.emory.edu" with the following: email address to be added to the list, your name (not simply your login id), organization/company name, postal address, and voice phone number.

ftp://ftp.mathcs.emory.edu/pub/informix
Central repository of Informix related tools, archives of comp.databases.informix/informix-list, and some individual user group files, plus some files for the International Users Group (IIUG).

ftp://kcbbs.gen.nz
Home of the Informix Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list.

User Group Sites

http://www.iiug.org
Home page of the International Informix Users Group.

http://www.xmission.com/~dbaresrc
Utah Users Group and general Informix links, current HTML FAQ.

http://www.mindspring.com/~bduncan
Southeast Users Group.

http://www.madtech.com/iglug
Chicago Users Group.

http://www.cstp.umkc.edu/users/ewidjaja/kciug/kciug.html
Kansas City, Kansas Users Group.

http://www.iiug.org/~waiug/
Washington, DC area Users Group.

http://nw.demon.co.uk/infuse
The Infuse Users Group (in the U.K.).

http://www.iug.com/index.html
The German Informix Users Group.

Other Sites of Interest

ftp://quasar.ucar.edu/pub/Informix_Archive
Mirror of the ftp.mathcs.emory.edu site.

ftp://cc1.kuleuven.ac.be/student/informix-faq
Copy of the HTML version of the FAQ.

http://www.ece.vill.edu/~dave/index.html
Free software.

http://www.digital.com
All kinds of benchmark data on Digital Equipment.

http://www.fourgen.com/
Commercial applications built with Informix tools and servers.

http://www.garpac.com/informix.html
Assorted links and the FAQ.

http://www.gate.net/~tschaefe
The INX_UTIL utility.

http://www.inmet.com/NBD/samedl.html
ADA and SQL.

http://www.lapc.ac.uk:80/~andym/
General page on parallel databases.

http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/SDG/People/jason/pub/gsql/starthere.html
Mosaic/SQL gateway.

http://www.strengur.is/~frantz
Power-4gl.

ftp://ftp.demon.co.uk/pub/perl/db
Perl scripts with Informix.

ftp://ftp.demon.co.uk/pub/gnu/ibmpc/informix
Perl-based replacement for nmake.exe where C++ is not needed in INFORMIX-NewEra development.

ftp://prep.ai.mit.edu/pub/gnu/perl-5.000.tar.gz
The latest version of the Perl language.

http://arch-http.hq.eso.org/bfrasmus/wdb/
The WDB Web interface to Informix.

http://library.byu.edu/staff/bkh/cgi_4gldoc.html
Informix WWW interface.

http://www.blackie.com/
Blackie WWW interface to RDBMSs.

Carlton Doe can be reached at dbaresrc@xmission.com. His www address, with links to a number of Informix related items, is http://www.xmission.com/~dbaresrc/index.html.

Carlton founded DBA Resources, Inc. in 1993. He specializes in INFORMIX-OnLine and INFORMIX-OnLine Dynamic Server database administration and training, as well as custom INFORMIX-4GL programming. Carlton is the founder and current President of the Utah Informix Users Group. He is also a member of the founding Board of Directors of the International Informix Users Group.

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