Ask Reuben

No More Globals

How can I rid my code of the GLOBALS statement?

The use of the GLOBALS keyword, wether as a block declaration, or used to import a file, is normally discouraged within a Genero (and Informix-4gl) development.

There are many reasons GLOBALS is discouraged, hopefully some from any lessons your Computer Science professors might have taught you.  If you do use GLOBALS then you should note the rules that need to be adhered.  I have seen plenty of Informix-4gl code that has a very unstructured use of GLOBALS that makes maintenance interesting.  These include multiple definitions of the same global variable with different data-types, and modules not recompiled when a globals file has been changed.

There are valid reasons for variables that have scope throughout your application.  So how should these be coded.  The technique is to use an IMPORT FGL with a variable with PUBLIC scope.  So if you had …

    DEFINE p_username CHAR(8)
LET p_username = FGL_GETENV("LOGNAME")
DISPLAY p_username

… then you should in a separate .4gl define these variables with PUBLIC scope, and then reference this .4gl via IMPORT FGL statement.  This will give you something like …

#! global.4gl

#! file.4gl
LET global.username = FGL_GETENV("LOGNAME")
DISPLAY global.username

This will allow you to make a more modular approach with several smaller .4gl files imported where necessary, rather than having one big  monolithic globals file.

This approach also facilitates the use of PUBLIC CONSTANTS and TYPES that you can also reference via IMPORT FGL, something you could not historically do with GLOBALS.

You should end up with a “global” variable only requiring definition in one file, not being defined in multiple places with many definitions.  Also if you have “global” variables that are not really “global”, but perhaps being applicable to a certain range of programs, then you can have an imported module that is only imported by that certain range of programs.

So if you do have GLOBALS, at your next big upgrade, evaluate the option of removing the use of GLOBALS from your code-base, and make your code easier to maintain.