by Paul C. Zikopoulos
In Part 1 of this series, I covered the IBM Explorer and its unique features that help .NET application developers write applications for the IBM DB2 Universal Database (DB2 UDB) product family. In Part 2, I introduced you to a set of schema creation wizards that let you point-and-click your way to database objects with extra features that make this process easier than ever.
The DB2 UDB add-in for Microsoft Visual Studio .NET also comes with a set of information, troubleshooting, and accessibility features that allow developers to quickly diagnose and solve database-specific issues, and get the information they need at their fingertips. In this article, I will cover a mixed bag of features that make .NET developers more productive when programming to a DB2 UDB database.
Access to Help
The DB2 UDB add-in for Visual Studio.NET comes with searchable, native, and context-sensitive help. To be blunt, we are not going to ask developers that use Visual Studio.NET to launch a DB2 UDB server tool to get quick access to the information that they need. In fact, if you cannot find the information you are looking for right in the IDE, we know the next place you are going to look (the Internet) and we have taken care of that as well. (More on that in a bit.)
The following figure shows the native help integration that is added to Visual Studio.NET when you install the DB2 UDB add-in:
Microsoft developers have a passion for the productivity they get out of the Visual Studio .NET IDE - and with good reason - it is a great tool. As I said before, IBM understands that Microsoft developers want to remain in their IDE to accomplish their work.
When developers leave their IDE, if they are not going for a cup of coffee, chances are they are going to some sort of instant messaging software such as MSN Messenger, or to a Web browser like Internet Explorer. To accommodate these habits, IBM hooked up all the DB2 UDB help such that when you perform a Google search on DB2 UDB information - chances are more than likely that the online documentation will come up first in your search list, as in the following example:
What's more, since this help is hosted online, you can use your browser's language settings to transparently switch between languages:
DB2 UDB for .NET Knowledge Domains
There are a number of knowledge domains available that are chock full of articles, tutorials, scripts, and more.
For example, IBM has its own developerWorks Web site with topic-specific domains for all kinds of programming paradigms, technologies, and more. The Visual Studio .NET zone (shown below) is available at: www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/db2/zones/vstudio/.
And while you might expect IBM to host such a site, it is interesting to note that other development resource domains have been springing up with zones devoted to DB2 UDB and .NET - a testament to the growing number of developers using this technology with DB2 UDB. For example, the popular DevX Web site (shown below) has a showcase for DB2 UDB and .NET available at: www.devx.com/IBMDB2/Door/21980?trk=Stinger%5FFeatPart.
DB2 UDB Instance Control
DB2 UDB for Windows comes with a system tray tool (shown below) that allows you to stop and start your DB2 UDB instances from a desktop GUI tool. (It is somewhat similar to the SQL Server Service Manager.) You can invoke this tool using the db2systray.exe command; it will default to start each time you start the Windows operating system.
This instance control tool can also be used to pre-launch the DB2 Control Center for faster startup of the management interface for DB2 UDB - but this is more likely to be used by a database administrator (DBA) than a developer. This tool is shown below (it is the green icon in the taskbar, and yes, I know I am running out of battery power):