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1997-09-11 10:09:42


Beyond COBOL, Beyond Documentation



In a report that pooh-poohed the apocalyptic potential of y2k -- and which singled out me as someone who has the story all wrong -- this admission appeared.

* * * * * * * *

Skeptics and alarmists alike agree on one point: there's no way a single tool can solve all--or even most--of the Y2K problems in any given system.

First of all, while COBOL programs are the main culprits, they're by no means the only ones. Every application--in every imaginable programming language--must be checked for two-digit dates. It's impossible for a single tool to do this. More insidiously, many programmers did not label date fields logically--or at all. An automated tool cannot possibly catch every single date field when there is no single method that everyone uses to label them.

Even date fields that have obvious labels might not be formatted in the same way. Does the day come before or after the month? Does the two-digit year 40 represent the year that a building was constructed (1840), a birth date (1940), or an insurance policy's expiration date (2040)? Cases like these make it obvious that human logic will have to be involved.


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