As soon as the 'outer' interface detects that a file contains commands (as opposed to a mail or non-mail file intended for redistribution to a list), it passes it to the CJLI for execution. This physical file will contain one or more logical 'JOB's with interspersed comment lines. Each 'JOB' will contain zero or more commands, start with a "// JOB" card and end with a "// EOJ" card. The 'outer' interface will provide these cards if omitted, but this will be detailed later on. Anything before the first "// JOB" card, after the last "// EOJ" or between "// EOJ" and "// JOB" cards is ignored. Notably, mail headers and "Acknowledge-To:" fields (at the bottom of the mail file) would be ignored. A physical job file containing two jobs might look like this:

(any number of header lines, ignored)
//jobname1 JOB options
//jobname1 EOJ
(any number of lines, ignored)
//jobname2 JOB options
//jobname2 EOJ
(any number of lines before EOF, ignored)

Each job in the physical file is a completely independent entity which contains commands and the 'dataset' definitions required to execute the commands properly. Jobs are executed in sequential order; if a job does not execute successfully, the other jobs in the physical file are still executed, unless the job has been terminated by a 'global' error (e.g. error reading the physical file), in which case the CJLI terminates after transferring the file to the postmaster. Within a given job, commands are executed in sequential order regardless of the result of the previous commands.

Each job generates a separate 'output', which is sent to its recipients (see below) before the next sequential job is executed. This 'output' consists in a series of messages which are (unless specified otherwise -- see below) sent back as a single mail file.

There are three kind of cards in a job stream:

    1. Control Cards – Starts with "//" in column 1 and are interpreted by the CJLI. Control cards are divided into three categories:
      • Pre-execution control cards, of the form: "//label kwd args". "label" and "args" can be omitted but there must still be a blank between the "//" string and the keyword name, ie "// kwd". If CJLI does not recognize the keyword, it strips off the leading "//" and considers the card as a command-card (see below).
      • Comments, of the form: "//* any_comment_text". These cards are ignored by CJLI. Note the blank between the asterisk and the first character of the comment text.
      • Execution-time control cards, of the following format: "//*kwd args". Note that the keyword is concatenated to the "//*" string to differentiate this from a comment. If the keyword is not recognized, the card is treated as a comment control card and ignored. It is otherwise processed by CJLI at execution time, as if it were a normal command card, and in sequence order with the other command cards. These cards are actually commands which are only available from within a command job because they would be irrelevant outside of a job context.
    1. Command Cards – Contains the text of the actual commands to be executed. They are ignored by CJLI which passes them to the main LISTSERV command interpreter for execution. If the card starts with an asterisk, it is treated as a comment and ignored.
    1. Data Cards – These cards are assembled into a dataset under control of a "// DD" control card. They are removed from the job stream by CJLI and are kept in a separate pool for later reference at command execution time.