Informing the IBM Community

F8 – Back to the Future II



No I’m not talking about Mr Forstie but of course borrowing from Doc Brown in the Movie Back to the Future.  This is something he would say whenever he saw something incredible.

Now that is exactly how I felt when I was shipped a test PTF by my hero Mike K Russell and so I probably looked a bit like Doc in the photo here, without the hair of course.

Those of you that know me well know that this F8 key idea has been close to my heart for many years now, and to see it being delivered in 7.4 (SI70959) and 7.3 (SI71070) is literally a dream come true.  So, thank your IBM for an early Birthday and Christmas present all in one.

What’s all the fuss about F8?

For those of us who spend a lot of time with the IBM i command line, we are reusing the same commands all the time and since the dawn of OS/400 in 1988 we have had the F9 key to step back through the stack and recall the commands we had typed in.

For those of us who came from the System/36 will remember how glorious that was, as before that we just had the DUP key which just gave us back just the last command we had typed and nothing more.

Well with F8, if you know you have typed the command you want and you start pressing F9 to find it but press F9 one too many times and so step past it, well now you can press F8 to step back one in the other direction.

Now, I know this does not sound quite as revolutionary as Db2 Mirror or Temporal Tables but it is something that I believe will make so many people’s lives just that tiny bit better every day.  Just like sliced bread did not replace the need to buy a loaf, the F8 key will not remove the need to type commands but the two of them will save you time.

What if F8 was already in use?

There are a few places in IBM i where F8 was already in use, most notably for this SysAdmin in WRKACTJOB. In these cases, IBM has left the original F8 Functionality so as not to break any existing work flows you might have.

Wait, there is more, F9 just got enhanced too!

Now if you know the command you want but don’t want to press F9 a myriad of times, you can simply type the start of the command with an asterisk suffix, then when you press F9 you will get the closest match from the commands you have typed in the session.

So, in the example below I ran the ADDLIBLE command before I created my library, so ran the CRTLIB and then was able to create the ADDLIBLE command again immediately but typing ADD* then pressing F9.

Now I know in this example I used more key depressions to get back the command I wanted, I could have simply pressed F9 twice but think about it, this could have been as 1000 character command that I typed in 50 commands ago.  This is every bit as great as the F8 and makes Mr Russell (or Sir Mike as I like to think of him) a double hero!

Other people do need to be thanked

I know this was not just me that was asking for this enhancement, but thanks to the support from the community at large who supported RFE 124253 and my colleagues on the CEAC who supported me with this, especially to my good friend and IBM i Sys Admin God,  Rudi Van Helvoirt, who was tireless in his support of this RFE. Not least of which being his Back to the Future article here on PowerWire.

I hope you enjoy F8 and F9* as much as I have, it makes me smile every day!

Nice to see you

It was great to see you all in Milton Keynes at the i-UG iPower event in June, it was our biggest event yet and personally I thought one of the best.

Our next user group meeting will be at The Mount Hotel, in my home town of Wolverhampton on Thursday 7th November.

More details and registration are available at our website

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4 responses to “F8 – Back to the Future II”

  1. Susan Gantner avatar
    Susan Gantner

    Way to go, Steve! I had somehow missed hearing about the F9 enhancement. Excellent! And F8 – well, how overdue was that idea? Can’t believe no one thought of asking for that long ago!

    It’s good to know the RFE process works so well. I voted for it.

    Now … I wonder what will become of the RFE process once IBM DeveloperWorks bites the dust shortly?

  2. Mike Ryan avatar
    Mike Ryan

    Small things can make the world go round much smoother. I am SOOOOO glad this is now available to you so you can start to ease yourself off the Anti-Anger and Anxiety pills 🙂

    Hey, and it shows that CEAC really does work for the common man…

    Well done!

  3. Jozsef Torok avatar
    Jozsef Torok

    Most excellent Steve!!
    I voted for this RFE too,so very excited to see this one come to fruition.
    My excitement is somewhat tempered though as due to circumstances beyond my control we are still running IBM i 7.2. (grumble grumble, pulling of hair…)
    Please tell me that this F8 function will be PTFed back to IBM i 72…..
    Thank you.

  4. I wonder why PDM was left out of getting F8.

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