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IBM's Net.Data is a server-side scripting language that you can use to dynamically create HTML documents for display by a user's browser. Net.Data is an excellent interface between a browser and a CGI program, such as an RPG application executing on the server. In addition, Net.Data's SQL and flat file interfaces can be used to access IBM i data directly, without the need for a high-level language. As a result, Net.Data has become a popular tool for the fast implementation of web-based applications on IBM i systems.

This course begins by describing the role of Net.Data in an ebusiness application. You will see how Net.Data is distributed and installed and how to invoke a Net.Data program, called a macro, from an HTML form.

The course then describes the structure and syntax of a Net.Data macro. You will see how to define and reference variables and how to use Net.Data statements and blocks. Special emphasis is given to control structures and macro functions.

Net.Data uses the concept of a language environment to provide interfaces with other programming languages. Using the appropriate language environment, you can execute SQL statements, REXX procedures, or IBM i commands. You can also call a program written in high-level language, such as RPG, COBOL, C/C++, CL, or Java. The course provides examples illustrating the use of each of these environments.

One of Net.Data's greatest advantages is its ability to process the variable output of a typical SQL database query. You will see how to control Net.Data's handling of table output and how to supplement the default processing with your own enhancements. The course ends with a survey of Net.Data's extensive collection of built-in functions.

Approximate Study Time: 2 hours


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  • Describe the role of Net.Data in a typical ebusiness application
  • Identify the major advantages of using Net.Data
  • Identify the location of the Net.Data initialization file
  • Code the URL to invoke a Net.Data macro
  • Describe the syntax of a Net.Data macro
  • Code a Net.Data comment block
  • Code a Net.Data %INCLUDE statement to include a separately stored group of statements within a macro
  • Define a Net.Data variable
  • Incorporate the contents of a variable into an HTML string
  • Change the value of a variable
  • Retrieve and display the value of an environment variable
  • Implement the following control structures in a Net.Data macro:
    • If
    • If/Else
    • Case
    • Do While
  • Define a conditional variable
  • Define and call a macro function
  • Invoke a Net.Data function
  • Define a Net.Data function to:
    • Execute a REXX program
    • Run an IBM i command
    • Call an external program
    • Invoke a Java class
    • Execute a set of SQL statements
    • Invoke an SQL stored procedure
  • Describe how the results of an SQL query are returned to Net.Data for processing
  • Identify Net.Data variables that control the printing of reports
  • Create a custom report using %REPORT and %ROW blocks
  • Define a Net.Data table and use it to store the results of a function call
  • Use Net.Data built-in functions to generate HTML elements from a table
  • Define a list variable
  • Use a %MESSAGE block to display messages in response to specified return codes
  • Describe the naming conventions used for Net.Data built-in functions
  • Identify the Net.Data built-in function to perform a specified task

Topic Outline

The Role of Net.Data in an eBusiness Application

Net.Data Variables

Net.Data Control Structures

Macro Functions

Net.Data Language Environments

The SQL Language Environment

Built-In Functions


This course should be taken by programmers responsible for creating web applications in the IBM i environment.


This course assumes that you have an understanding of the role of HTML, JavaScript, and CGI programs in an ebusiness environment and how forms are defined and used in an HTML/XHTML document. These prerequisites can be satisfied by completing the first three courses of this series:

You may also have obtained these skills by taking other courses or through relevant work experience.