IIUG Insider (Issue #72) June 2006

Highlights: Conference survey results

Welcome to the International Informix Users Group (IIUG) Insider! Designed for IIUG members and Informix user group leaders, this publication contains timely and relevant information for the IBM Informix community.



Editorial Back to top

I will be brief. Not that I have nothing to say but heavy workload in my real job left me very little time. It is 2 AM in Israel and I have just finalized the Insider and am ready to send it out. I do hope you will find this newsletter useful. The none US readers will probably find very little time with the world cup finals going on. But if possible, when you watch the games try to remember the RFID data of the games is stored in an Informix database.

Gary Ben-Israel
IIUG Insider Editor
IIUG Board of Directors

Highlights Back to top

The Conference survey results

Many thanks to those who participated in the Conference Survey run last month. We have a whopping 486 responses. That’s a fantastic response rate. I personally appreciate the effort 486 of you made.

The purpose of the survey was to:

  1. Get feedback about the value of the IDUG/IIUG Tampa conference
  2. Better understand the reasons why people did not attend the Tampa conference.
  3. Gain insights about the effectiveness of some of the programs that the IIUG run.

We ran the survey from the 26th of May to the 25th of June. It was advertised once in the “Insider” and we also did two email reminders.

A full report on the survey will be available at /survey/results/conference.html. However I have summarized the key points below.

The demographics of the respondents

Where respondents are physically located Total %
North America 228 47%
Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) 165 34%
Indian sub-continent, Asia, Pacific 50 10%
Mexico/Central America/South America 43 9%

58% of respondents describe themselves as being Programmers and or DBAs. 11% have executive responsibilities. 18% have IS management roles.

About 30% work for companies which employee between 100 and 999 people. 36% work for companies employing over 1000 people. 15% work for companies employing between 10 and 99 emp0loyees with 13% working for companies employing less that 10 people. The balance either work for IBM or do “other”.

61% of respondents consider themselves as Informix end users.

About the Tampa Informix conference

60 respondents said that they attended the Tampa conference. 426 did not.

When asked about the intellectual value of the conference, 21 said that they got great value, 28 thought the conference was good value, 1 thought it was OK and a further 3 were a bit disappointed.

When asked about value for money, 7 said it was cheap considering the benefit they got, 30 thought the conference value was fair, 13 felt it was a bit expensive and 3 thought it was very expensive for the benefit they got.

Respondents who did not attend the conference were asked for the main reason for their non-attendance. The reasons are:

Total %
My company would not pay for my attendance 136 32%
The location of the conference was unsuitable 96 23%
I could not afford to attend 59 14%
I did not have the time available to attend 57 14%
Other (please specify) 36 9%
The date of the conference was unsuitable 19 5%
The content of the conference was not useful 11 3%
I did not know the conference was on 7 2%
Total Respondents to this question 421

Respondents who said that the date was unsuitable were asked for an alternative month. There were no clear winners (October and July being the favorites) and no obvious correlation with their physical work location. Even so, if the dates are more suitable it does not mean that the respondents will definitely turn up to a conference.

Respondents who said that the location was unsuitable (96) were asked for alternatives. There was a very strong correlation between physical working location and preferred conference location. 55 respondents selected Europe. However, even if the conference is held in the right location 54% still feel that the conference fee is a deterrent followed by 16% who feel that their company will still not pay for them to attend.

Unsurprisingly, 75% of the 57 respondents who were deterred by the conference fee, selected the range of $500 – $999 as a reasonable price for a 4 day technical event. 19% selected between $1000 and $1299 for such an event. However, even if the conference is priced at their selection, only 14% would still go. Most respondents are still restricted by lack of financial support by their company and the conference location.

Conference events

For conference planners there is a very clear message that technical training sessions are the most popular event at an Informix conference. When asked to choose the most important. 56% also selected the technical sessions. The full list is as follows:

If you go to the next Informix conference please check all the events that you believe you would personally attend.

Total Popularity Importance
Technical training sessions 311 86% 56%
Informix ask the experts sessions 231 64% 11%
Informix road map presentations 193 54% 7%
Very small group sessions with Informix engineers 186 52% 8%
Informix new feature request sessions 180 50% 5%
Free Informix certification 154 43% 8%
Vendor exhibitions 149 41% 1%
Vendor technical presentations 138 38% 2%
Key note presentations by IBM executives 135 38% 2%
Informix ask the marketers sessions 59 16% 1%
Other (please specify) 14 4%

Respondents were asked to check their interest in a list of non-Informix topics. “The Linux operating system” was selected by 52% of respondents with “Operating Informix in a highly heterogeneous platform environment” coming second with 39% of the vote. The full list is as follows

Total %
Developing/Operating Informix alongside DB2 129 35%
Developing/Operating Informix alongside Oracle 110 30%
Developing/Operating Informix alongside MS SQL 117 32%
Operating Informix in a highly heterogeneous platform environment 145 39%
Migrating to a non Informix environment 74 20%
The Linux operating System 193 52%
The Microsoft server operating systems 61 16%
Working with ERP vendor products 63 17%
Working with spatial vendor products 32 9%
Working with ecommerce vendor products 54 15%
Other (please specify) 22 6%

A few questions about IIUG

Respondents were asked to check which of the IIUG programs listed below, they use.

The IIUG web site 349 91%
The IIUG software repository 231 60%
The IIUG Insider 150 39%
The IIUG Special Interest Groups 125 32%
Local User Group meetings 107 28%
Annual IIUG / Informix conferences 73 19%
The IIUG job forum 48 12%
The IIUG Yellow pages 18 5%
IIUG advocacy 16 4%
Other (please specify) 9 2%

When questioning specifically about the Insider, 44% said it is very useful but 32% do not know what the “Insider” is. Helloooo???

Finally, 188 of you supplied your email address so that the IIUG Conference planning team could bounce ideas of you in the future. Thank you very much. Prepare to be bounced. :).

In conclusion

This summary of the conference survey is not complete. In particular we asked for, and got, many written comments about the Tampa conference (and yes… the food wasn’t that great), lots of feedback on why you do/may/can not attend conferences and suggestions for conference topics.

Where to now? This survey will be used by Cindy Lichtenauer, Paul Watson and Gary Ben Israel. These three are primarily involved in managing the IIUG conference planning activities in Europe and North America. Your feedback on why you did and didn’t attend the Tampa conference is invaluable. Cindy is also keen to review the data to help LUG’s better plan topics that are relevant to our members.

However the survey should also have a wider use. This survey reflects some of the very real concerns that members have about Informix, and it’s relevance to them as individuals operating in the Information Technology sector. You should think hard about the value of conferences and they role they play in instructing, advising and developing your future.

Please feel free to ask me questions about the results. I will reply, as best I can, to your email and also post the response in the /forums/informix-forum/

Kind regards,

David Fraser
IIUG Board of Directors

Conference corner Back to top

IDUG/IIUG Europe Conference Vienna, October 2-6, 2006


Breaking News!

Due to circumstances beyond IIUG’s control, IDUG 2006 – Europe will now take place 2-6 October at the Hilton Vienna in Vienna, Austria. IIUG regrets any inconvenience this relocation may cause, and looks forward to delivering an exceptional conference and attendee experience in Vienna this fall. Continue to visit the IDUG Web site for the latest program information as it is determined.

Win a Free IDUG 2006 – Europe Registration!

Win a FREE full registration to attend IDUG 2006 Europe which will be held in Vienna, Austria from 2-6 October – an estimated value of nearly EUR 1500 (note: travel and accommodation costs are the responsibility of the winner). This prize is transferable to a colleague if the winner is unable to attend. Fill out the online form by 7 September or click here for complete rules and regulations.

Just Announced! The schedule grid for IDUG 2006 – Europe is now available.

Use the schedule grid to view the complete conference schedule and to review session abstracts. Customize your personal itinerary by choosing the topics and sessions that best fit your needs.

Visit the IDUG 2006 – Europe blog for continued conversation and feedback on this exceptional event.

Mark your calendars. This is a conference you must attend.

Cheers, Paul Watson and Gary Ben-Israel IIUG Europe Conference Planning Committee IIUG Board of Directors

Conference Revisited – Ask The Experts

By June Hunt & Kate Tomchik

One of the most popular sessions at any Informix content conference is the “Ask The Experts” session. What other opportunity does one have to ask an Informix Technical or Marketing question to the people who can really give you the true scoop! Of course, there were a few questions where the Experts weren’t allowed to say (such as what new features are going in the next release) but in general the information was great as always.

Here is the meeting documented for your information. If you find something was recorded incorrectly, or that is missing, we apologize! We would like to thank David Fraser and Paul Watson of the IIUG BOD for running the session.

Question about the development cycle to Jonathan Leffler. How can one influence new features to get into the product?

Jonathan Leffler responds:

  • It is a flexible calculation; from user requirements and feature requests
  • Get requirements into the Product Tracking System (PTS)
  • Explain the problem – what is the issue and why do you need the feature
  • If the feature has a limited benefit – be prepared to pay or be a very large customer
  • Log the issue through tech support channels
  • There are already over 1000 feature requests in the system; they are reviewed periodically. The best chance for a feature request to get implemented is for it to have a broad benefit for others.

Madison Pruet adds:

  • Most features get additional verification through mock ups and review with key customers (who have signed confidentiality agreements)
  • c.d.i. is reviewed by IBM
  • Lead architects are component owners; they know what needs to be addressed. This may benefit the customer w/o a customer request as some features will be added automatically
  • The QA cycle is constant – run every night; various components may have additional tests
  • Unit tests; Functional tests; Run on 64 bit, 32 bit, NT, Linux platforms – integration process includes additional testing; increase GLS coverage, stress tests, platforms

Tell us about regression tests on new features.

Madison Pruet:

  • Once a test is there, it stays; runs same basic tests as the regular development process

Art Kagel & Jonathan Leffler:

  • The more information you can provide about the problem, the better for the problem analysis

Madison Pruet:

  • Clearly identify feature requests; if mistaken as a bug report, it may be closed if it is not in the spec.

How can we get tech support to escalate issues that don’t seem to be handled “fast enough”?

John Miller III:

  • Ask for a manager to escalate the problem. Let the manager know about the case so that resources may be scheduled to address the issue. (For example, please call in at 10:00AM when you recognize a problem and tell us it needs to go live at 5:00PM today rather than waiting until 5:00PM and say ‘we’ve been working on this for 7 hours…).

My sales representative never calls – what should I do about it?

Carlton Doe:

  • Determine if you have a dedicated sales rep. If you have purchased through VARs and other sales channels, you may not have a rep.
  • Question: How much do you need to buy? Do you have needs, or do you want warm fuzzies from your sales rep to feel important to IBM? (surveyed the room)
  • IBM is working on building small-to-med market business for Informix – started about 2 yrs ago
  • If you need a sales rep, contact Carlton, he will be able to get someone for you
  • Local User Group – Technical sales rep should be associated with the LUGs; let Carlton Doe know if there isn’t one
  • Comments on global partner space – embedding IDS in applications to sell outside of their own environment. The message had been we’ll let the channel drive Informix sales (in the top 2000 customers). Informix didn’t fit IBM sales model. Mainframes are only sold to very large companies. Informix sales should hit more small and medium companies. New approach/model – Small & Medium Business emphasis. An outgrowth will be a customer advisory board. Global Technical Partner Council.
  • IIUG should be focal point for collecting product related feature request. Top 5, for example. Perhaps conduct a survey?*** Response from the IIUG BOD, the www.iiug.org web site provides a link to a new feature request list. Select on the left side in the IIUG.org Hot Spots the Vnext Requests. To add to this list follow the instructions at the top of the list.
  • An Advocacy officer should be appointed on the board.*** Everyone on the board is an advocate, just talk to us!!

Group Question: What v10 features do you like?

  • Point-in-time table-level restore
  • Variable page size in single instance
  • Fragmentation – multiple partitions in a single dbspace
  • ON-Tape backup to Standard I/O and restore from it

What’s in v10.5?

Madison Pruet:

  • Lots of neat stuff (i.e. he can’t answer that :))

How can I best take advantage of extensibility?

Jacques Roy:

  • Look at Developer works; UDRs (SPL) for date manipulation functions.
  • Datablades; there are two free ones (spatial and MQ).
  • Bladelets to research (genxml functions and fine-grained auditing)
  • Don’t use databases as commodities, You will lose a huge business advantage. Take advantage of the Informix server for extensibility – don’t ignore the capabilities of the engine.

Is there any other way to alarm the DBA via email or page about dropping a view or table without turning on the very resource-costly audit feature?

Jacques Roy and Jonathan Leffler:

  • You can use onaudit and onshowaudit to write to a log file. Might want to write to system audit controls. Will need to know how to detect within that log how an event such as a drop happened. This is the official supported way to do it (not necessarily efficient).

John Miller III:

  • Try going through the logical logs after the fact.

Carlton Doe:

  • Remove drop privileges; set ROLES.

Madison Pruet: (question to audience) How many people would be able to take advantage of a log analyzer?

Many hands showed.

  • Trusted facility going back 10 years (comment from audience)

Jonathan Leffler:

  • We are actively looking at how much they can do to provide auditing at a finer level than all tables in all databases. How many people need to know about select versus update (from a security standpoint)? Many hands again.

Jacques Roy:

  • I suggest using SQLCMD – modified – rather than allowing users to get to DBAccess.

Why shouldn’t we move to another database?

Art Kagel: performance (Informix always works and gets the job done.)

Madison Pruet: cool stuff coming out

John Miller III: availability

Jonathan Leffler: platforms, history (stability)

Jacques Roy: easy to manage and extensibility

Carlton Doe: stability and flexibility

Art Kagel: Those of you who work with other databases, how many prefer the others? (no hands went up)

Question regarding the 710 error occurrences, features that are available on-line will show this error, i.e. sysprocplan lock. What is being done about this?

John Miller III:

  • There are tools that are available online but give you 710 errors, we realize this and are working toward removing those errors.

Jonathan Leffler:

  • For example, prepared statements executed against a table with a dropped column will always get a 710. Audience said this also happens on dropped indexes.

Which onstat is the best to use to provide transaction counts?

John Miller III – & Art Kagel:

  • onstat -p (transaction = commit)
    Count how many rows updated/deleted/etc. in the onstat -p

Future enhancement – why can’t we have multiple buffer pools of the same size?

John Miller III: Explain why this feature would be needed or how it could be used?

Art Kagel:

  • I would want to isolate busy tables from others.
  • From the floor it was mentioned that the DB2 database performance classes always recommend you give a separate buffer to your data versus your indexes to increase performance.

Are there examples of performance gains using increased page sizes or chunks?

John Miller: Has anyone seen gains in a real-world example?

From the floor:

  • Performance improvements seen moving indexes to larger pages, just to allow more indexes per page.

Jonathan Leffler:

  • This improvement is due to a reduction in node levels for the index. 2 will be quicker than 7. Reduced depth of btree will be quicker.

Why is the size of the installs so large? If we delete the parts we don’t need, will it still be supported?

Jonathan Leffler:

  • Yes, you may remove pieces that you aren’t using. Onbar, for example. If you are careful and know what you are removing, and don’t tell tech support, tech support won’t ask. Most of the time you will get away with it. But keep the installation media – just in case.

There were a number of new features requested during this presentation. The IIUG BOD would like to have a survey later this year to get the users feedback on which new features are the most important. If you have any recommendations for new features, add them to the vNext feature list mentioned that is available on the web site, or email your requests to kate@iiug.org.

Just MOMENTS left to save $400 on the Information on Demand 2006 Global Conference!

Time is running out for you to take advantage of the deepest discount available on the upcoming IBM Information on Demand 2006 Global Conference. The URL below is set to expire at the end of June. Enter Promotion Code “DKU23” under the “Company Information” section of the enrollment form and receive $400 off! IBM is planning over 75 Informix technical sessions, including several customer-led presentations on Informix success stories. You won’t want to miss this event! Register now!


IIUG Board of Directors corner Back to top

Handy hints for SIG users

Want to avoid getting lots of emails every day from the forums you have subscribed to? The answer is simple. Just log in to the Member Area at http://www.iiug.org.

Then click on “Subscribe to Email Lists” and check the box titled “Digest”. Now you will only get one email per day for each forum you are subscribed to. This email will list all the traffic in the forum for the past 24 hours. Simple, but effective.

BTW. Have you used the IIUG RSS feeds to track the discussions in the SIG’s. This is very cool. To set up an RSS feed just point you RSS reader to /rss/

Also… Have you been into the Informix-forum lately? If not, then go and have a quick look. The link is /forums/informix-forum/. There has been some spirited debate recently about possible new features for Informix IDS. Are you interested in, or hate the idea of, unstructured native XML support in Informix???? Then register your support or abhorrence.

Be cool.

David Fraser
IIUG Board of Directors

Informix new features survey

Have your say about what you think is really important or just plain dumb with our list of Informix new features. This list has been gleaned by Kate Tomchik from David William’s list, Eric Hubers list, and some other places (which I am too delicate to mention).

The survey lists the suggestions and asks you to rank them. You can even add further suggestions. It is really simple and will take you less than 3 minutes.

The survey will only be open for a short time, so don’t mess around. DO THE SURVEY NOW. CLICK HERE


Kate Tomchik
David Fraser
IIUG Board of Directors

Education Back to top

Chat with the Lab

Informix Chat with the Labs for July — IDS in an SOA environment

Wondering how to use Informix as a data service and make your IDS applications work within a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) environment? Join us on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 to find out! Learn how to use IDS in a successful SOA deployment, as a service provider and consumer, as well as how to convert a 4GL application for web services. Our speakers are Jerry Keesee, DIrector of the Informix Lab and Alexander Koerner, Informix and Informix/SOA Integration. You may RSVP for this event and listen to replays of prior chats at the URL below:


NEW! Informix Chat with the Labs Live for Asia Pacific! IDS 10

Have you heard the latest?

The Informix Chat with the Labs series is expanding to serve our customers and IBM Business Partners in Asia Pacific! Dial in for the first event on July 6, 2006 to learn from our senior developers about the latest features delivered in xC1-xC5 since the initial release of IDS 10, including the performance features implemented to support the successful Baan benchmark. Join this chat to learn about these capabilities as well as to review the steps to migrate your applications to IDS 10. To register and download the charts, please visit:


International EGL User Conference

Register today for the 2006 International EGL User Conference – August 1-2

The 2006 International EGL User Conference will be held August 1 – 2 at the beautiful campus of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – Kenan Flagler Business School. This year’s conference offers a variety of technical product sessions, customer testimonials, product demonstrations and much more to show the breadth and depth of this powerful technology. Seating is limited so please register early! The conference web site with full details and registration can be found at:


Developer corner Back to top

IBM and Zend partner to deliver certified PHP support for IDS

IDS 10 is now enabled to support PHP, the fastest growing technology for building dynamic Web applications. IBM has partnered with Zend to deliver Zend Core for IBM, the first and only certified PHP development and production environment that includes tight integration with Informix Dynamic Server (IDS). Visit the new PHP page on the Informix website for more information about this offering and for links to key IDS/PHP resources on the Web.


Fuzzy Checkpoints and V10

The fuzzy checkpoint feature of IDS can help reduce checkpoint duration, but may also increase the time required for fast recovery should fast recovery be required. In IDS v10.00, two new configuration parameters were added to help reduce effect of fuzzy checkpoint feature on the time required for fast recovery.

The FAST_RESTART_PHYSLOG and the FAST_RESTART_CKPT_FUZZYLOG parameters can be used together, or independently when using fuzzy checkpoints. One or both parameters can be enabled by setting them to 1 in the onconfig file. Enabling either of the parameters only takes effect when the database server is started and reaches online mode, affecting any subsequent fast recovery.

The parameters do not affect behaviour when fuzzy checkpoints are not enabled.


Fast recovery involves two phases: physical recovery and logical recovery. During physical recovery, pages are read from the physical log file into the buffer pool using large block sequential I/O. During logical recovery, log records are read from the logical log files and applied to pages in the buffer pool. If a page is not already in the buffer pool, the logical recovery stalls waiting for the page to be read from disk using random I/O.

The FAST_RESTART_PHYSLOG parameter enables physical logging on fuzzy operations (insert, update, and delete), so that before-images are stored in physical log. During fast recovery, these pages are loaded into the buffer pool with large block, sequential I/O during the physical recovery phase. When the database server replays the log records that modify these pages, if the pages are still cached in the buffer pool, and random I/O to read in the pages is avoided.

During a fuzzy checkpoint, the fuzzy dirty pages still remain un-flushed, so checkpoint duration is still reduced. There is, however, a run-time overhead of the extra physical logging.


All pages modified by non-fuzzy operations are flushed to disk during a fuzzy checkpoint. So for non-fuzzy operations, the logical phase of fast recovery need only start replaying log records after the last checkpoint record in the logical log files.

Pages modified by fuzzy operations (insert, update, delete to data pages in logged databases) are NOT flushed to disk during a fuzzy checkpoint. So for fuzzy operations, the logical phase of fast recovery may need to start replaying log records from before the last checkpoint record.

The database server keeps track of where fast recovery should start (the oldest log record for a non-flushed fuzzy page) and records the information on the checkpoint pages of the root dbspace reserved pages.

The FAST_RESTART_CKPT_FUZZYLOG parameter enables saving all unflushed fuzzy dirty pages into the physical log file at the end of a checkpoint, after the logical clearing of the physical log file. Flushing the pages to the physical log (using large block sequential I/O) is faster than flushing the pages back to their disk location, so checkpoint duration is still less than for a full checkpoint. If the total number of unflushed, fuzzy dirty pages exceeds 20 percent of the total physical log space, the pages will not be written to the physical log and no improvement in fast recovery time would be achieved.

During the physical phase of fast recovery, these dirty pages are loaded into the buffer pool using large block sequential I/O, avoiding random I/O to read the pages in. In addition, the logical recovery phase can now start replaying log records after the last checkpoint record in the logical logs for both non-fuzzy AND fuzzy operations. This means that recovering log records from before the last fuzzy checkpoint is avoided during the fast recovery.

Note: Only use the FAST_RESTART_PHYSLOG parameter if the buffer pool is at least 25 percent larger than the physical buffer size. The buffer pool must be large enough to hold the physical log, log pages, and other pages read during recovery. If the buffer pool is not configured correctly, fast recovery performance is compromised. The extra physical logging that occurs when the database server uses the FAST_RESTART_PHYSLOG parameter affects runtime performance.

If you do not want to sacrifice runtime performance or if you do not want to increase the buffer size, use the FAST_RESTART_CKPT_FUZZYLOG parameter to reduce some recovery time.

IDS on Windows Series: Installing IDS on XP

The following article, we will review the installation process of Informix Dynamic Server (IDS) v10.00, v9.40 and v9.30 on Windows XP.


Calendar of events Back to top

July – 2006
Date Event Location Contact
6 Ontario Informix User Group Meeting IBM, Markham Ontario Ron Flannery
20 Colorado Informix User Group Meeting IBM Facility, Denver Colorado Dennis Robinson
26 Washington (DC) Area Informix User Group Meeting IBM Facility, Bethesda MD Lester Knutsen
August – 2006
Date Event Location Contact
1-2 International EGL User Conference University of North Carolina
October – 2006
Date Event Location Contact
2-6 IDUG/IIUG 2006 – Europe Vienna, Austria Cindy Lichtenauer
15-20 IBM Information on Demand Global Conference Anaheim, California
December – 2006
Date Event Location Contact
8-9 Washington Area Informix Users Group – Forum 2006 Washington DC Lester Knutsen


Useful links Back to top

In response to your input, we have created a page on the IIUG web site containing all the links we used to include. Please find it at: /quicklinks.html

Closing and credits Back to top

The International Informix Users Group (IIUG) is an organization designed to enhance communications between its worldwide user community and IBM. IIUG’s membership database now exceeds 25,000 entries and enjoys the support and commitment of IBM’s Data Management division. Key programs include local user groups and special interest groups, which we promote and assist from launch through growth.

Sources: IIUG Board of Directors
IBM Corp.
Editors: Gary Ben Israel
Stuart Litel
Jean Georges Perrin

For comments, please send an email to gary@iiug.org.

Categorized as Insider

By Vicente Salvador

Board member since 2014, a user since 1989 and Informix fan. I'am software architect which allow me to combine technical and business skills.