Reviving InfoSeeker

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InfoSeeker was a 5250 based viewer for proprietary IBM "BOOK" files, providing system documentation before IBM finally adopted PDF as documentation document format of choice.

About BOOK files

IBM "removed" InfoSeeker from OS/400 in V4R4, to force people to use either the poor quality Windows-based IBM Softcopy Reader, or alternatively use the public internet based IBM Document Library Server (defunct[1]) which provided an online conversion from BOOK to HTML format to view content in a browser directly.

There once has been a web service to convert BOOK files to PDF, but the functionality was removed.

One possible alternative to view BOOK files might be the InfoSeeker viewer[2], which was still completely included in V4R5. Compared to the officially working V4R3 version, it tested the existence of a data area. If it wasn't existing, the message line will just tell that STRINFSKR has been removed.

Making it work again


The length parameter isn't critical, because there is no content anyway.

After creating the data area STRINFSKR will function again.

Additional details

  • BOOK files and accompanying SHELF files are expected to be located in in /QDLS/QBKBOOKS/BOOKS/.
    • QDLS is a file system with limits of file names like MS DOS.
  • /QDLS/QBKBOOKS/BOOKS is part of the QBOOKPATH system variable.
  • To open a BOOK file directly, use STRINFSKR OPTION(*BOOK) BOOK(BOOKNAME).
    • The .BOO extension is implicit.
    • The BOOK's name is searched in all paths listed in the QBOOKPATH system variable

Initial tests showed that creating a shelf in /QDLS/QBKBOOKS/BOOKS/ fails: InfoSeeker consumes 100 % CPU and does not recover. The books themselves have been placed in /QDLS/QBKBOOKS/ for this test, and the book search path was set accordingly to /QDLS/QBKBOOKS/.



  1. It has been taken down from service at June 1, 2019. With it, a lot of older but still useful documentation vanished from the Internet.
  2. However, it cannot display imbedded graphics, neither bitmapped, nor vector based.
  3. Thanks to MSW for extensive debugging and eventually providing a web link showing this command.