Unravel 2000 marks date code errors in Oracle apps

If Oracle database applications are not yet on agencies’ year 2000 radar screens,
they should be, said David Ghosh, chief executive at Ravel Software Inc. of San Jose,
Calif.


Oracle Corp.’s date-data types simplify date handling in its development
environment. But agencies should examine their Oracle Forms for hidden two-digit year
dates that could affect arithmetic operations, Ghosh said.


Oracle applications are as open as Microsoft Corp. applications in that regard, he
said, because “if the programmer wants to take a shortcut and create a library of
routines that store dates as two digits instead of four, Bill Gates can do nothing about
it.”


Ghosh said his company’s impact-assessment tool and compliance browser, Unravel
2000 for Oracle, identifies suspect date variables in Oracle Forms and guides programmers
to make repairs.


Oracle Consulting Services has selected the tool for its Oracle Custom/2000 services,
Ghosh said. The tool and browser work with Oracle SQL Forms 2.3, SQL Forms 3.0, Forms
4.5/5.0, SQL Report, SQL ReportWriter 1.1 and Reports 2.5/3.0, he said.


Ravel built the tool from industry standard components, including Visual Parse ++ from
SandStone Technology Inc. of La Jolla, Calif., for the parsing engine; Microsoft Visual
Basic for the programmer interface; Microsoft Visual C++ for process coding; Microsoft
Access for information extracted from code; and Microsoft Project for project management.


Unravel 2000 users must have Microsoft Project 4.1 or a later version installed. If a
project involves 1 million or more lines of code, users should substitute an Open Database
Connectivity-compliant database manager from Oracle, Sybase Inc. or Informix Software Inc.
instead of Access, Ghosh said.


Unravel 2000, which runs under Microsoft Windows 95 or Windows NT with Service Pack 3,
reads Oracle Forms descriptive information saved as an ASCII .imp file and creates a
logical tree of procedures, blocks, triggers and pages.


“You download the code, run the impact, do the remediation and then send it back
to the native environment for testing and implementation,” Ghosh said.


The tool will find two-digit year dates regardless of whether they display as two
digits but are stored as four digits. It will show how the century is identified in
external files that have two-digit year fields, and it will identify where 99 is used to
indicate “no end date.”


Unravel 2000 identifies date references and manipulations, summarizes their impact, and
helps the programmer find and repair the date code.


It also provides a status report for each component, identifying it as unexamined,
analyzed, repaired or tested.


The tool produces a forms statistics report for project planning and an impact
statistics report which highlights the date variables.


Unravel 2000 impact assessment and compliance browser tools for Oracle Forms, Oracle
Forms.rpt reports and Oracle ReportWriter are each $2,995 per seat.


Ghosh said some organizations have tried the Unravel 2000 tool on repaired code only to
find two-digit year coding has crept back into the application logic.


“All you can do is run the impact tool every morning to see whether you have a
year 2000 problem in your code” since the day before, he said.


Contact Ravel Software at 408-955-1990.

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