The IBM Explorer

by Paul C. Zikopoulos, BA, MBA

Did you know that the IBM DB2 Universal Database (DB2 UDB) product has arguably the best support for .NET in today’s database industry? In this series of articles, I want to take you through some of the tooling productivity benefits that a DB2 UDB developer can leverage when programming .NET applications in the Microsoft Visual Studio.NET ( VS.NET) integrated development environment (IDE).

In Part 1, I start with the IBM Explorer (think Server Explorer and you’ll know what I’m talking about – only it’s much better). Subsequent parts in this series will include:

  • The DB2 Database Project
  • Schema wizards.
  • Information and other goodies.
  • Application deployment.
  • Common Language Runtime (CLR) routines. Yes, you read that right: you can create CLR-based routines in DB2 UDB (since September 2004). At the time of writing, DB2 UDB is the only database in the world that supports CLR routines.
  • Concurrent data readers to access more than one result set in the same database connection (which can be to a DB2 UDB database server on the Linux , UNIX , Windows , i5/OS , or z/OS platforms) and query both of those result sets concurrently.
  • DB2 UDB database application blocks for rapid application development

The IBM Explorer

Most .NET developers are familiar with the Server Explorer. The promise from IBM is that the IBM Explorer functions in a very similar manner to the Server Explorer. The IBM Explorer has additional features, though, that provide developers with richer capabilities that they have told IBM they wanted out of this piece of the IDE.

The IBM Explorer and Server Explorer windows are shown below:

The IBM Explorer surfaces connection to any DB2 UDB family member (including those for i5/OS and z/OS environments), as well as federated objects set up with IBM WebSphere Information Integrator.

Before you get started, remember: if you want to build a .NET application with DB2 UDB, you have to use the IBM Explorer. Dragging-and-dropping table objects in the Server Explorer window will create OLE DB connections.

A Baseline

So, what else is so great about the IBM Explorer? As a baseline, it fully supports the drag-and-drop rapid application development (RAD) features that you are accustomed to with the VS.NET Server Explorer. For example, the following code was generated by simply dragging-and-dropping the STAFF table onto a Visual Basic.NET (VB.NET) WinForm:

The palette for this code looks like this:

As you would expect, the Data Set was generated by simply right-clicking the Data Adapter (which not all databases that offer .NET integration can do).

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