September 20, 2010

Finding a DB2 for z/OS APAR

Those new to z/OS may be unfamiliar with the terms APAR and PTF.

IBM tracks customer problems through Authorized Program Analysis Reports (APARs). An APAR is processed by an IBM change team. Once IBM fixes the problem and the customer verifies the fix, a Program Temporary Fix (PTF) is produced and the APAR is closed. 

As you can imagine, if you're having a problem, there's a good chance that some other customer has already experienced the same issue. So before contacting IBM Support, search the IBM System z Technical Help database (and select APARs) to see if a fix has been created for your particular problem. All APARs in the database include a PTF number, so when you find what you're looking for, you can verify with your IT team (in our case, your DB2 systems programmer) whether or not the fix has been applied.

While the above link is one way to access the APAR database (I'll list some additional ways in a bit), there's a fairly new option that you may find more convenient: Simply download an IBM Software Support toolbar to your IE or Firefox browser.

By installing this toolbar, you can enter search text in an IBM-specific search engine. If you use this to search for APARs, I strongly suggest selecting the Support Home icon before entering your APAR document number.

The toolbar is particularly useful if you encounter an SQL code that isn't in the codes manual. Such SQL code is likely introduced through an APAR, and thus not yet updated to the codes manual.

When searching for specific SQL code, it's best to be specific. For example, I searched on sqlcode -583. Entering "-583" returned 2,150,000 hits. Entering "583" returned 1,460 hits.  However, entering "sqlcode583" returned just six hits, and "SQL0853" returned only four. I also found that searching on "SQL0583" was the one way I could get a link to SQL code text as it appears in the manual. And by using SQLCODE as the prefix (SQLCODE583), I located an APAR containing this code. The point is, in any single situation, you may need to play around with search to get the result you're looking for.

Here are some other ways to get to APAR database:

1.  IBM Support Portal -- By using this particular URL, all DB2 for z/OS information is highlighted for you. You'll see it under the Notifications, Training, Flashes & Alerts and Overview Top Ten headings.

2. DB2 for z/OS Search (with a sample search result)

Of course, if you're interested in results beyond, you can use a search engine like Google. Closed APARs generally appear on the public Internet -- e.g., I got 346 hits for "PM13552." Googling allows you to locate discussion forums and other blogs that may have discussed your SQL code.

Learn more about APARs, fixes and PTFs here.