Keeping up with changes to ISPF can be well worth a little effort. When you encounter a new release of ISPF, the first thing you should do is check out the “Changes for this release” Help option, paying particular attention to the Program Development Facility (PDF) section. The PDF component of ISPF includes general user tools such as data set lists (option 3.4 and the DSLIST command), member lists, the ISPF editor, etc.
You can identify new ISPF releases by looking at the Session Status on the ISPF primary option menu or using the command SAREA on any ISPF screen.
Here we highlight several commonly used “power tools.” Although some of these tools date back to earlier releases of ISPF (Version 4, circa 1994), others are more recent (the current version of ISPF is 6.x [z/OS 1.11 is ISPF 6.1]). “Changes for this release” enables you to go back several releases to review updates.
The ISPF Help files are a great power tool. Whether you’re in operations, systems programming or application development, if you often use the z/OS Time Sharing Option (TSO) and ISPF, online help is extensive and always just an F1 button away. The “Help Index” is one of the best improvements ever made to ISPF. Previously, you had to navigate to the correct panel and then press F1 for the appropriate help. By using the index, you can look up the help topic alphabetically.
Let’s take a closer look at these and some other tools to see how you might benefit by using them.
Power Tool #1: Changes for This Release and ISPF Help
1. On the main ISPF menu panel (see Figure 1), place your cursor on the Help option in the upper right of the display and press <enter> to display the Help pull-down choices. You will find “Changes for this release” among the choices. Place your cursor on the choice or enter the associated number in the space provided at the top of the list and press <enter>.
2. On almost any (see note) ISPF panel, place your cursor on the Help option in the upper right of the display and press <enter> to display the Help pull-down choices. The last option is “Index”. Select this and press <enter>. On the command line of the next display, type the letter “c” and press <enter> to go to the list of Help files that begin with “c”. Find the “Changes for this release” option, enter the associated alphanumeric (i.e., C6) on the command line, and press <enter>.
Note: The Settings Panel (option 0) doesn’t include the Index in the Help menu.