Tuesday, 10 October 2017

An Introduction to Control Center Personalities in DB2 Universal Database

If you come from a Windows background, you are likely to leverage a graphical user interface (GUI) to perform most of the management tasks for your environment, including managing your IBM DB2 Universal Database (DB2 UDB) server. The Control Center is the GUI tool that provides database administrators (DBAs) with a central location from which to perform DB2-related administration tasks, and more.

Why Control Center "Personalities"?


The Control Center provides a complete range of functionality and features for all users, regardless of their skill set. For experienced DBAs, or "power" users, all of this functionality presented at all times can complicate navigation of the Control Center and make task execution more inefficient.

For example, an ACCPAC business partner is likely to use the Control Center merely to run the Configuration Advisor and create a schema object. Before "Stinger," this novice DB2 user might have been confused when drilling down the Control Center's object tree to find the database, wondering what an instance is, and so on.

The Control Center before "Stinger" looked like the following figure:

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Notice how long the object tree under the Databases folder is when fully expanded. It doesn't even fit on the screen.

In DB2 UDB "Stinger," personalities can be used to simplify navigation and reduce the potential complexity for users who do not need an all-encompassing management tool for their DB2 database environment. With personalities, you can use the Control Center in either Basic mode or Advanced mode (in this mode, the Control Center functions like it did before "Stinger"), or customize the Control Center's surfaced objects and the actions that can be performed on them.


Starting the Control Center in DB2 UDB "Stinger"


When the Control Center starts, the Control Center View window (shown below) opens. This window allows you to select a personality for the Control Center's current run time.

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If you want the selected personality to persist, so that it starts the same way each time, deselect the Show this window at startup time check box.

If you've configured the Control Center to always start with the Basic personality, but you later want to perform a more advanced function, or perhaps want to customize the Control Center, you can change the personality without restarting the Control Center by clicking on Tools-->Tools Settings, and selecting Customize Control Center (shown below), which opens the Control Center View window shown in the previous figure.

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The Basic Personality for Basic Users


In the Control Center object tree before "Stinger," all objects are children of the All Systems parent folder. In "Stinger," a new folder named All Databases is displayed (this folder is available for all personalities). The All Databases folder contains all the cataloged databases on your system. Using this folder, you can see all databases at once (even if they reside in different instances), instead of having to drill down through each individual system and its respective instances. This can be very helpful, because DBAs typically only care about the databases that they are working with, and not their respective instances or systems (which are left more to system administrators or more advanced DBAs).

With the Basic personality, the object tree and its respective pop-up action menus are simplified and contain a subset of objects (and associated actions) that would be of interest to most novice DBAs. For example, the Instances and All Systems folders are hidden in this personality, along with many of the objects that would normally appear.

The surfaced objects and actions that are associated with the Basic personality are the result of multiple user-centered design (UCD) test cases, and were validated with DBAs possessing Oracle, DB2, or SQL Server experience.

If you were to select the Basic personality from the Control Center View window, the Control Center would look something like the following figure:

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You can see how simple the object tree is in this figure. Not only are the Systems and Instances folders removed, but the structure below each database is drastically simplified as well. The Basic personality will not show any system tables when you select the Tables folder.

In addition to a reduction in the various objects that the DBA is presented with, the actions that can be performed on them is also limited in this personality. For example, in the Basic personality, you do not have the Create From Import option when right-clicking on the Tables folder that you have with the Advanced personality.

The following figure compares the pop-up windows that open as a result of right-clicking on a database when the Control Center is running with the Advanced and Basic personalities:

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The Customized Personality for Tailored Users


In "Stinger," the Control Center's Basic personality is a static (predefined) view that is delivered as part of the Control Center. Even though this personality suits the needs of many users, there will always be environments in which a user's particular needs cannot be fulfilled by this personality. In fact, even experienced DBAs might want a way to remove objects that are not used (for example, the Nicknames folder is only needed if you are leveraging the DB2 federated capabilities). In such cases, you need to be able to modify either the Basic or the Advanced pre-defined views and create your own customized views. The Custom option contains a checklist of the objects and pop-up actions that you can select from the Advanced personality. You can prune objects or actions that you do not need and, of course, you can always add them back in later.

To customize which objects will appear, and the actions that you can perform on them, select the Custom radio button, and click Modify. In the future, if you want to start the Control Center with your customized personality, you simply select the Custom radio button and click OK, or simply deselect the Show this window at startup time check box.

Using a Custom personality, you can configure two levels of personalization. You can customize actions on a selected object (perhaps hiding some pop-up actions and displaying others), and folders (again, hiding some, and showing others).

The following figure shows the interface that you can use to customize the Control Center:

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When you select an object, the actions that you can perform on that object are listed in the right-hand side of the Customize Control Center View window, as shown in the next figure.

Note that there are usually two levels to a database object. For example, selecting the Tables folder gives you the opportunity to configure what actions would be surfaced in the Control Center for that folder; however, to configure the operations that a DBA could perform on individual tables, you would have to drill down through the Tables folder and select Table Objects (as shown below):

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For example, in the previous figure, we configured the Control Center so that whenever it starts with a Custom personality, and you select a table object, you will only be able to open, query or copy that table through the Control Center:

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The following figure compares the actions that you can perform on a table in the ACCPAC database, under each of the three personalities (remember, the Basic personality does not show system tables):(i.e., change "both Basic and Custom" to "each of the three")

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Wrap-up

As you can see, Control Center personalities can be quite useful: They help novice users to interact with only the database objects that they know and understand, and they allow experienced users to prune out folders and actions that "get in the way." Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that ship DB2 with their products can also take advantage of the Control Center's personalities by customizing the objects and operations that users of their software will see.

In the last couple of months, we have been introducing you to many of the new features that are coming in DB2 UDB "Stinger." However, there are over 200 new features in DB2 "Stinger." For example, did you notice the new Control Center dashboard in the screen caps throughout this article? This window displays information about the selected object and the most common activities that can be performed on it.

The best way to learn a new technology is to work with it. We encourage you to download the DB2 UDB "Stinger" beta and try these new features out for yourself!