Monday, May 30, 2016

New IBM Knowledge Center for DB2 and other products

New DB2 Knowledge Center
Maybe you have already seen this, but the Knowledge Center for DB2 and other IBM products just changed. When you go to your bookmarked link for the DB2 10.5 Knowledge Center you will notice a slightly different layout for the known content. However, there are more differences and I really like them.

The first thing I tried was the language picker. At the bottom right of each page you can now switch between supported languages. Something that is useful especially when your first language is not English and you want to check language-specific terms or clarify a feature description. On the welcome page for DB2 10.5 you can also switch between DB2 versions and going back to even DB2 9.5 is still supported.
Switching Languages in the IBM Knowledge Center

What I first missed due to layout changes was the navigation tree. It is visible after clicking the icon on the upper left and topics can be expanded much faster than in the old version of the Knowledge Center. What also is much faster is the search functionality. After clicking on "Search" on the upper right, a page with a search box is coming up. It is possible to select the DB2 version to be searched and enter the search term. Suggestions for possible keywords are made and when you hit "enter" the search results appear. Everything as expected. However, what I find very useful is the option to preview individual search results by expanding them within the result list (see screenshot below). That way you can stay with the result page without switching back and forth between documentation and search results.

Once you are on a regular documentation page, you can again switch between different DB2 versions and thus easily compare what has changed or check out syntax for a specific version. There are also new forward and backward buttons on top of each page to walk through a topic or section split over multiple pages - less navigation and clicks required to consume the content.

That's my update for today. If you feel nostalgic, check out my blog entry from 2009 about changes to what was called "Information Center" at that time. And in case you are cloud-based already, the new Knowledge Center for IBM dashDB is here.

Simplified search in the DB2 Knowledge Center

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Starter Kit for Data-Driven Cloud App with Access to On-prem Resources

Cloud App with On-prem Integration
Over the past week I have been trying to create a simple yet versatile sample to get developers started with data-driven cloud apps on Python. The application uses the Flask framework for the web and SQLAlchemy for the database part. The app is database-agnostic and can be used with dashDB, DB2, MySQL and other relational database systems. As many companies do not start from scratch, a bigger part of this (kind of) starter kit demonstrates how to integrate an existing database with new cloud app on Bluemix.

To get quickly started and to avoid needing to deal with corporate security standards and administrators, the on-prem database is simulated by a virtual machine or Docker container. The app itself is a variation of a classic, displaying and adding to a list of bookmarks or reading material. It is stripped to the core and documented to focus on the "getting started" aspect.

The sample app is available on GitHub in the repository Bluemix-onprem-data. As usual, let me know if you have questions and something needs to be clarified.
My Bluemix Readlist