ISPF Power Tools

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DSLIST [reflist]

In this form, the command allows direct access to data set reference lists. These lists are created by an individual user and can encompass data sets whose names have no common masking characteristics, although masking of the data set name is also supported.

Tool tip: To create a data set reference list, use DSLIST or 3.4 to get a data set list, then type RA to the left of each data set name you want to add to a reference list. In the pop-up window, enter the name you want for the reference list (i.e., DEV0511). Use a name that wouldn’t normally be used in a data set name because the DSLIST command assumes by default that anything, eight characters or less, following the command is a reference list name.

Power Tool #3: START and SWAP Commands

Most users are familiar with using F2 to split the ISPF display into two screens and F9 to switch between the displays. The downsides of the SPLIT (F2) command are:

  • The split occurs at the current cursor location, so you learn to move the cursor to the top line of the screen using your arrow keys or mouse before pressing F2. The latter is referred to as a “full-screen split.”
  • The split always displays the ISPF primary option menu and you must then choose an option.
  • There are only two screens (although there’s a lesser known SPLIT NEW command to go beyond the two screens).

The best solution to these issues is the START command. This command alone eliminates the aforementioned first and third issues, and in the form START option, it deals with all three:

  • The START command always results in a full-screen split.
  • The START option lets you choose the option as you split and includes menu options and commands such as DSLIST.
  • ISPF comes with two split-screen options: eight-way or 32-way. The eight-way split is the default and few sites enable the 32-way split. In the eight-way configuration, you can issue seven START commands for a total of eight screens.

Tool tips: You can still use F2 to determine the line at which the screens are split if you need to see portions of two screens simultaneously.

The START command can also be assigned to a function key, but should be the last or only command used on that key. 

Here’s an example where option S is SDSF and my-jcl is the data set containing Job Control Language (JCL) files to be submitted:


This would show you a data set list of your JCL data set(s). Pressing F9 would display the Job Entry Subsystem (JES) HELD output queue under System Display and Search Facility (SDSF).

Managing up to eight split screens is easy with a few F9 options. The F9 key is a SWAP command that switches between two screens only, but the SWAP command has some useful options:

  • SWAP scrnum lets you specify the screen you wish to navigate to by number. In the previous example, SDSF would be screen number 1 (the first ISPF dialog) and the data set list would be screen number 2 (because it was created by the START command).
  • SWAP LIST uses a pop-up window to show all the current splits (aka dialogs) and lets you select one using the period (.) that appears to the left of the screen number. This window also shows the screen name for those screens named in their panel source code.

Tool tips: There’s a SWAP scrname option, but not all panels have a screen name and many splits may have duplicate names that would prevent this command from functioning. Since the F9 key is SWAP, typing a number on the command line and pressing F9 will swap you to the numbered screen. Also, typing the command LIST and pressing F9 will display the swap list pop-up window (see Figure 4). Be careful! LIST is also a valid ISPF command that has nothing to do with the SWAP LIST.


If you need more information about the DSLIST, START, or SWAP commands, try using the ISPF Help Index.

We look forward to bringing you more power tools in future issues.

3 Pages