HISTORY OF THE TAA TOOLS
The TAA Productivity Tools were announced in April of 1995, but the
TAA Tools have had a long history.
Jim Sloan was a Software Planner for IBM. He began working on what was
to become System/38 in the early 1970s. System/38 was announced in
October of 1978 and began major deliveries in 1980.
In the early days of System/38, Jim did a variety of presentations at
COMMON and was on the 'Requirements' committee. There were many good
requirements that the system developers were not able to implement
because of more critical needs. These requirements were mostly
responded to as 'Future Objectives'.
Many of the 'Future Objectives' could have been implemented by using
small CL and RPG programs.
To provide timely solutions for users, Jim began a series of
presentations at COMMON starting about 1983 which were called 'S/38
Tips and Techniques'. These presentations showed the CL and RPG code
for how to solve a variety of typical user requests. Some of the
examples appeared in system manuals.
There were 10 presentations in all with each presentation showing a
unique set of tools. The presentations were also shown at the
System/38 Technical Conferences and a variety of user group meetings.
The tools were originally shown only in a printed paper format.
Beginning about 1986, the 'S/38 Tips and Techniques' were placed on
diskette and shipped informally from system in the 'TIPSTECH library'.
During the development of OS/400, Jim became a Software Planner on
The QUSRTOOL library was started in Release V1R1.1 of S/38. QUSRTOOL
was intended as a library where the system could place function that
was created outside of the normal development process. QUSRTOOL was
designed as 'source code only' and came with a disclaimer from the
system stating that any code was 'as is' (there was no warranty or
QUSRTOOL was not specifically designed for the 'S/38 Tips and
Techniques'. However, it was a good fit for the types of tools being
Jim reworked many of the System/38 tools for OS/400 and included them
in the first release of QUSRTOOL. A naming convention was needed for
the tools and the letters 'TAA' were assigned to those provided by
Jim. The letters were never an abbreviation for anything, but rather
just a unique naming convention.
Over the next several OS/400 releases, Jim continued to add to the
tools and improve them as a part time function of his Software
Planning responsibilities. He continued to make presentations at
COMMON to describe the new tools and at the AS/400 Technical
Conferences and other user meetings.
While other tools were placed in QUSRTOOL, the TAA Tools represented
the vast majority of the tools.
Although the TAA tools were being shipped with OS/400, there were
several problems with this approach. See the later section on
In mid 1991, Jim Sloan retired from IBM. Later that year, he returned
as a part time employee and worked predominantly on enhancing the TAA
tools until the end of 1992.
At the beginning of 1993, Jim Sloan, Inc. was formed and later that
year, Jim Sloan, Inc. was given a contract by IBM to continue work on
the tools. This work lasted until the Spring of 1994.
Along with many other areas of its business, IBM wanted to put the TAA
Tools on a 'profit center' basis.
In 1994, IBM and Jim Sloan, Inc. agreed on a contract where Jim Sloan,
Inc. would license the tools from IBM and produce a product for
customers. This resulted in the TAA Productivity Tools product.
As part of the contract, IBM agreed to withdraw the TAA Tools from
QUSRTOOL. This was announced by IBM at the V3R6 announcement of June
21, 1995. V3R1 was the last release to contain TAA Tools in QUSRTOOL.
Since the tools were no longer receiving any support, this would avoid
the confusion of shipping code where many of the tools would not
Note that the QUSRTOOL library was not removed from the system. It
still exists, but all of the TAA functions were removed.
Several years ago at COMMON, Jim Sloan met Al Barsa and established a
friendship. Al and Jim formed a team to help develop and distribute
the TAA Productivity Tools product. Jim Sloan, Inc. did the
development work and the Barsa Consulting Group, LLC did the
On April 1, 1995, Jim Sloan, Inc. announced the first version of the
TAA Productivity Tools product.
On January 1, 2014 TAA Tools, Inc. took over both the development and
distribution of the TAA Productivity Tools in Rochester, Minnesota.
The TAA Productivity Tools product includes all of the former TAA
Tools of QUSRTOOL as of V3R1M0. The TAA Productivity Tools product
also includes many new tools, enhancements, and 'ease of use'
functions. These functions are property of TAA Tools, Inc. and will
not appear in any future release of QUSRTOOL.
The TAA Productivity Tools product has been able to solve several
problems that were associated with the OS/400 QUSRTOOL TAA Tools and
enhance the offering. See the later section on 'Enhancements over
When the QUSRTOOL library was started on OS/400, there were over 100
TAA Tools. As of the V3R1 release, there were over 300. With the TAA
Productivity Tools, there are over 1900 tools and a significant
increase in the average amount of code that makes up a tool. See the
discussion on the HELPTAA menu about 'Growth of the tools'.
Thus, the TAA Productivity Tools have moved from the simple beginning
of solutions being shown in presentations to a full scale product with
warranty and support.
Al Barsa passed away during COMMON in Nashville on April 4, 2007. His
company continued to do the distribution.
In October of 2009, part of the Barsa company was sold to MCS. The TAA
distribution function remained intact although the company address
changed to Rye, NY.
In January of 2014 TAA Tools, Inc. took over both development and
distribution and is located in Rochester, Minnesota. TAA Tools,
Inc. maintains a close working relationship with both Barsa Consulting
and Jim Sloan.
PROBLEMS WITH QUSRTOOL
- The internal system cutoff date for QUSRTOOL occurred early in the
release cycle. In some cases, the system changed after QUSRTOOL
was frozen and caused some tools to fail.
- The QUSRTOOL tools were never PTFed during the release. The
cumulative PTF packages did not change QUSRTOOL.
Both the PTF and early cutoff problem were partially solved by the
development of an update media (the TAAUPD library) which was
shipped by the system on an informal basis. This allowed for
fixes, enhancements, and new tools to be provided to users during
a release. The update was only shipped when an IBMer requested it
and only a single media type was provided (1/4 inch cartridge).
There was no formal announcement of a new version of the TAAUPD
library and no guarantee that another version would ever exist.
- The system did not officially support the tools. This was
partially solved by the informal QUSRTOOL node in Rochester where
IBMers (not customers) could ask questions, discuss problems, and
While the process worked when it was followed, there were probably
many questions/problems that were lost along the way due to the
number of people that had to be contacted and follow thru.
- Because the shipped source code was intended for a specific
release, every conceivable error and confusion occurred when
customers attempted to use the tools. This included such things
- Users trying to operate without compiling the source.
- Users trying to create the tools without the RPG compiler.
- Users not aware that prerequisite tools must be created first.
- Users running a new version of a tool and relying on an old
version of a prerequisite tool.
- Users attempting to create a new tool with an old version of
the CRTTAATOOL command.
- Users attempting to install an update intended for a specific
release on a different release.
- Users not aware of the update.
ENHANCEMENTS OVER QUSRTOOL
- Shipping both object and source code. This avoids the cumbersome
step of creating the tools and all the problems of customers not
running code at a consistent release level.
This also avoids the requirement that the RPG compiler exist on
the users system to create the tools (a few tools require RPG for
user created objects).
- Testing later in the release cycle. The tools are not tested until
just shortly before a new system release and thus avoids most of
the problems of late system changes.
- Supporting the product with a support line and a warranty.
Customers can call directly rather than having to go thru their
- Providing a supported 'fix' method. A variety of solutions are
provided such as a discussion of how to change the source or a new
- Requiring less space. This occurs because the source required
considerable storage in QUSRTOOL, but the TAA Productivity Tools
use an archive which compresses the source significantly. The
RMVQUSRTAA tool is provided to assist in removing the TAA members
from QUSRTOOL (RMVQUSRTAA should not be needed after V3R2 unless
you have restored the TAA source from QUSRTOOL).
- Providing better ease of use for the tools. This includes help
text for the commands, the HELPTAA command, a better display of
the tools by category, better access to the tool documentation,
- Adding a significant number of new tools and enhancements. See the
HELPTAA menu and 'Growth of the tools' as well as 'Enhancements'.
Copyright TAA Tools, Inc. 1995, 2018