Part One - Challenge #01

Log on to z/OS ISPF

3270 emulator software prerequisites:
  • installed
  • configured to access IP Address
  • session started

If prerequisites are not met, then see Connectivity Guide drop down.

The screen below will appear as a result of starting a successfully configured 3270 emulator session.
If the screen below fails to appear, see Connectivity Guide, Overview drop down.

Logon to the Time Sharing Option (TSO) environment using 3270 emulator software as instructed.

The input cursor is positioned in the lower left - waiting for logon z99999 to be typed followed by enter key.

** Don't forget to replace Z99999 with your unique ID.
3270 Emulator Enter Key: In most 3270 sessions, the default enter key is lower right side Ctrl key. If pressing Enter does not do anything, try pressing the lower right Ctrl key. If you want to change location of the 3270 emulator default enter key, the emulator software has a keyboard mapping function.

TSO/E LOGON screen should appear.
The cursor is placed at the Password input field.

The initial password is set to zbigdata.

Password ===> zbigdata
press enter key.

A message indicating that the current password expired is displayed.
Enter a new password of your choice in the New Password input field to continue.

Avoid using a password that you've used previously on this system or on any other system. Make sure your contest password is completely different than your Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo!, online banking, laptop/desktop, or other password.

Choose a new password that follows rules highlighted below
Pay attention to the directions that appear on the screen, as z/OS requires new password twice and what is typed is NOT visible.

Password Rules:
  • Be equal to or less than 8 characters in length.
  • Not be a password that you've used previously on this system.

If you receive an authorization error, retype the password zbigdata making sure that you are entering it correctly.

If a mistake is made during this process, system will prompt again for the correct password format until requirements are met.

Three bad attempts will result in the following messages:

If this happens, wait for 15 minutes, then attempt logon again with the following new initial password
Password ===> zpass4me

If all goes well, then logon messages will appear

The screen above will appear momentarily, then the screen below will appear

Notice the three asterisks *** to the left of the cursor?
z/OS is waiting for enter key to continue.
Press the enter key and you're on your way!

What to do when systems thinks you are already logged on?:
If the 3270 session is closed accidently without logging off, then the session remains active for approximately 30 minutes before timing out. Below is what might be experienced and what action to take.

Closing 3270 session without logoff will result in the following message when logon is attempted.

If this occurs, then type logon z99999 and press enter. Enter your password, then tab down to the left of Reconnect and enter (s) to select the Reconnect option as shown below.

Result of s - Reconnect, then enter will return the session to the active panel at the time session was lost.

The Interactive System Productivity Facility, ISPF Primary Option Menu is displayed.
Press enter key to clear the copyright dialog box.

ISPF is where the majority of the challenge interactions with z/OS occur.
ISPF consists of panels, options, selections, and an editor to accomplish tasks.

To navigate the ISPF panels, use any one of the following methods:

  • mouse point and click on desired screen location
  • tab to desired screen location - tab places cursor at next input area
  • arrow key to desired screen location
3270 Protected Fields: If attempt is made to input into a protected field (meaning input is prohibited), a stick man may appear in lower left control area of 3270 session and keyboard will be temporarily locked. The lower left Ctrl key unlocks the keyboard, then tab into an unprotected field.

From the ISPF Primary Option Menu, type 3 in option input field and press enter key to go to the Utilities panel.

On the Utility Selection Panel, select option 4 (Dslist) and press enter.

Several data sets were created for your ID.

A data set refers to a file that contains zero or more records. A record is the basic unit of information used by a program running on z/OS. There are multiple types of data sets. A basic description that can be read in about two minutes can be found at -
z/OS Data Set Basics

To list your data sets, type your ID in the "Dsname Level" field and press enter.

Another Reminder: Replace Z99999 with your ID. Z99999 is only an example ID

Dsname Level field is for listing data set names based upon data set name pattern matching.
A couple of data set names were pre-allocated for your ID.
Entering your ID lists data set names that match or begin with your ID.

Press F1 to get ISPF help tutorial

The ISPF help tutorial provides help about DISPLAYED LIST - LINE COMMANDS

Examples include:
  • V - View data set
  • B - Browse data set
  • E - Edit data set
  • D - Delete data set -- do not delete data sets unless instructed
F3 to exit and return to previous panel

Tab to the left of Z99999.PDS.DATA and enter e line command in the command column.

z/OS has several data set organizations.
One type of z/OS data set organization is a partitioned data set, (PDS).
A PDS has a directory of members where each member contains data, such as program or a text file.

A message appeared in the upper right area of display, "No members in data set".
Select welcome. The Select or S command selects a new or existing member of the PDS.
Enter the following on the command line:

s welcome

The new PDS member, welcome, is in edit mode below.
Enter the following edit primary command as shown:
copy 'zos.mtm2017.public.pds.data(welcome)'

F3 to save, end, and return to the PDS directory.

Some repetition now.
Enter the following on the command line.

s mbr1

A new PDS member, mbr1, is in edit mode below.
Enter the following on the edit primary command line.

copy 'zos.mtm2017.public.pds.data(mbr1)'

Read mbr1 and follow the instructions to learn more about ISPF editor line command processing.

After completing instructions in mbr1, enter the following command:
select mbr2.

s mbr2

Enter the following edit primary command:

copy 'zos.mtm2017.public.pds.data(mbr2)'

Primary commands are stacked in the panel that follows.
Primary command, reset, removes the ==MSG> lines,
followed by the command separator, semicolon (;),
then the ISPF editor primary command, change (c), is changing all occurrences of a string to a new string.

reset ; c 'mainframe is' 'z Systems are' all

Observe the lines with ==CHG> which identifies the lines changed.

F3 above panel to end, save, and return to PDS directory.

Select mbr3

s mbr3

Enter the following edit primary command:

copy 'zos.mtm2017.public.pds.data(mbr3)'

Read mbr3 and follow the instructions to learn about ISPF editor help tutorial

pfshow off/on
can be used anywhere in ISPF to turn function key line off and on.
When pfshow off, then more panel real estate is available

F3 to save, end, and return.

Refresh the display of the PDS directory using the following command:


F3 again in above panel to exit the PDS directory and return to data set list panel.

As mentioned, the Partitioned Data Set (PDS) organization type is one of several data set types.
Another data set type is Sequential (SEQ).
While PDS has a directory of members, SEQ data sets contain data records - similar to files in other operating systems.
Edit (e) Z99999.SEQ.DATA as shown in the DSLIST - Data Sets Matching Z99999 below.

The EDIT Entry Panel below provides an opportunity to specify preliminary actions.
Observe the Initial Macro field. An ISPF macro will be used in this edit session.
However, the macro will be executed during the edit session instead of here.
No actions are needed now. Therefore, enter to proceed with edit session.

This sequential data set, Z99999.SEQ.DATA, was pre-allocated with no data. Therefore, edit session shows area for entering data.
Data will be copied into this empty sequential data set as shown in panel below.
Observe copy command is followed by pfshow off command.

copy 'zos.mtm2017.public.seq.data'; pfshow off

Observe the following message:

-CAUTION- Data contains invalid (non-display) characters.
The non-display characters are simply NOT displayable EBCDIC characters.
More about EBCDIC vs. ASCII vs Packed Decimal character formats later in the contest should you elect to learn more in Part 2.

xname is NOT a valid ISPF editor primary command.
xname is a user written ISPF Editor Macro.
Instead of typing in a series of ISPF editor commands, xname contains the commands to be executed.
Enter the following on the primary command and observe changes.


The changed panel display was initially excluded from these instructions.
Execution of the ISPF Macro displayed the string changes.
Observe the strings that were changed.

The xname and xchg user written ISPF Editor Macro source code follows:

Enter the following in the editor primary command area and observe the changes.


Note: The screen shot was excluded from the instructions.
A text picture will appear as a result of executing the ISPF Edit Macro.

F3 to exit and return

Learn more about JCL, programming languages, data set organizations,
data formats (Hexadecimal, EBCDIC, ASCII, Packed Decimal) and
ISPF should you decide to participate in Part 2.

While you can proceed to the next Part 1 challenge, z/OS Unix,
consider taking a few moments to review the Useful and Optional
information below which may prove valuable moving forward in the contest.

Next: z/OS Unix

Useful and Optional Information

Review ISPF Editor Command Summary:
References drop down or click below
ISPF Edit Command Summary
Logoff TN3270 session

Enter =x to terminate ISPF

Interim panel might appear, just enter to delete session log data set

Enter logoff from the TSO READY prompt

A frequently asked question by new mainframers goes something like this:
“Is 3270 the only way to interact with z/OS?”
The answer is definitely no!
There are many ways to connect to the mainframe, including many with GUIs.
Learning 3270 TSO/ISPF will enable you to quickly master any Eclipsed Based, IDE, GUI.

Next: z/OS Unix