Defines the characters to be used for the currency symbol, decimal and thousands separators for numeric values.

The DBFORMAT environment variable defines the front currency symbol, the thousands separator, the decimal separator and the back currency symbol, when converting character strings to/from numeric values.

  • When defined, the DBFORMAT environment variable takes precedence over DBMONEY.
  • The DBFORMAT environment variable is also used by the IBM┬« Informix┬« database client and server to make date to string conversions.
  • When using a graphical front-end, the decimal separator of the numeric keypad will produce the character defined by the DBFORMAT (or DBMONEY) environment variables.

The value of a DBFORMAT variable must use the following syntax:

  1. front is the leading currency symbol, can be an asterisk ( * ) to avoid the front symbol. The front symbol can be omitted when not used.
  2. thousands is a character that you specify as a valid thousands separator, can be an asterisk ( * ) to avoid the thousands separator. The thousands symbol can be omitted when not used.
  3. decimal is a character that you specify as a valid decimal separator. Using the asterisk ( * ) will have the same result as when using a dot.
  4. back is the trailing currency symbol, can be an asterisk ( * ) to avoid the trailing symbol. The back symbol can be omitted when not used.
If neither DBMONEY, nor DBFORMAT are defined, the default numeric formatting depends on the type of platform where the runtime system executes:
  • On desktop/server platforms, the default numeric format defines the ( , ) comma as thousands separator, the ( . ) dot as decimal separator, and the ( $ ) dollar sign as front currency symbol for MONEY values. This corresponds to DBMONEY="$.", or DBFORMAT="$:,:.:".
  • On mobile platforms, the numeric format defaults to the regional settings defined on the device. Normally, there is no need to modify these defaults.

DBFORMAT affects the string to/from numeric conversions, by defining the thousands separator, decimal separator and (front or back) currency symbol, depending on the numeric type:

  • MONEY: Thousands separator (when using a format string), decimal separator and currency symbol.
  • DECIMAL, SMALLFLOAT, FLOAT : Thousands separator (when using a format string) and decimal separator.
  • SMALLINT, INTEGER, BIGINT: Thousands separator (when using a format string)

DBFORMAT can specify the leading and trailing currency symbols (but not their default positions within a monetary value) and the decimal and thousands separators. The decimal and thousands separators defined by DBFORMAT apply to both monetary and other numeric data.

DBFORMAT is typically used in conjunction with following language elements:

  • The FORMAT field attribute in form files, to specify a formatting string with placeholders for the symbols defined by DBFORMAT.
  • The USING operator, to specify a formatting string with placeholders for the symbols defined by DBFORMAT.
  • When using numeric expressions in DISPLAY and PRINT instructions, when default formatting applies (when no USING operator is specified)
  • Areas where character string to/from numeric conversion is needed, for example in a LET statement, where string expression is assigned a monetary or number variable, or in LOAD and UNLOAD instructions, to convert the numeric values in the flat files to pass data to or from the database.

With the default formatting, the thousands separator is not added to the result. To get the thousands separator, specify a format string including comma (the placeholder for the thousands separator), for example with USING "---,---,--&.&&".

Specify only one character for decimal or thousands symbols. The front or back currency symbol can be defined with more than one character, for example: DBFORMAT="*:,:.:FR".

Any printable character that your locale supports is valid for the thousands separator or for the decimal separator, except 0-9 digits, <, >,, |, ?, !, =, [ and ].

The asterisk ( * ) specifies that a symbol or separator is not applicable; it is the default for any front, thousands, or back term that you do not define, for example with DBFORMAT="$:*:.:*".

The same character cannot be both the thousands and decimal separator. A blank space (ASCII 32) can be the thousands separator (and is conventionally used for this purpose in some locales). The asterisk ( * ) symbol is valid as the decimal separator, but is not valid as the thousands separator.

Enclosing the DBFORMAT specification in a pair of single quotation marks is recommended to prevent the shell from attempting to interpret (or execute) any of the DBFORMAT characters.

The setting in DBFORMAT affects how formatting masks of the FORMAT attribute and USING operator are interpreted. In formatting masks of FORMAT and USING, these symbols are not literal characters but are placeholders for what DBFORMAT specifies:

  • The dollar ($) sign is a placeholder for the front currency symbol.
  • The comma (,) is a placeholder for the thousands separator.
  • The period (.) is a placeholder for the decimal separator.
  • The at (@) sign is a placeholder for the back currency symbol.

This table illustrates the results of different combinations of DBFORMAT setting and format string on the same value.

Table 1. Results of combinations of DBFORMAT setting and format string on the same value
Value Format String DBFORMAT Result

When the user enters numeric or currency values in fields, the runtime system behaves as follows:

  • If a symbol is entered that was defined as a decimal separator in DBFORMAT, it is interpreted as the decimal separator.
  • For MONEY fields, it disregards any front (leading) or back (trailing) currency symbol and any thousands separators that the user enters.
  • For DECIMAL fields, the user must enter values without currency symbols.

When the runtime system displays or prints values:

  • The DBFORMAT-defined leading or trailing currency symbol is displayed for MONEY values.
  • If a leading or trailing currency symbol is specified by the FORMAT attribute for non-MONEY data types, the symbol is displayed.
  • The thousands separator is not displayed unless it is included in a formatting mask of the FORMAT attribute or of the USING operator.

When MONEY values are converted to character strings by the LET statement, both automatic data type conversion and explicit conversion with a USING clause insert the DBFORMAT-defined separators and currency symbol into the converted strings.

For example, suppose DBFORMAT is set as follows:
The value 1234.56 will print or display as follows:

Here SFr stands for the Swiss Franc currency symbol. Values input by the user into a screen form are expected to contain commas, not periods, as their decimal separator because DBFORMAT has *:.:,:SFr as its setting in this example.