| Beat the Clock

Make that a Whopper. Thomas Soeder, chairman of
startup RMM Inc., thinks he has a tool for the times. Soeder’s Columbia, Md.,
company, a relative latecomer to the year 2000 tools market, has a low-priced, mass-market
programmer’s workbench that he calls the software equivalent of Burger King.

Soeder hired Java programmers to write the year 2000 code assessment, remediation and
validation workbench tool called Millennium Key. The $2,000 workbench, comprising
33,000 lines of Sun Microsystems Inc. Java code, is less automated than many earlier
workbench tools on the market, but Soeder called that a virtue.

He said the generalized Millennium Key workbench is suitable for any
language—“Cobol, Fortran, Dyal 280, C, C++, RPG, Clipper, dBase—and once
the parameters are set up for the language, you just need a junior programmer to

Parameter power. The tool harnesses what he termed the power of parameterization.
Millennium Key supports any method of fixing date code to prevent application errors or
failures on or after Jan. 1, 2000.

Although the bridging and permanent windowing methods described in the documentation
are not included, they are easy to implement, Soeder said. Neither method requires
programmers to alter existing application logic or legacy data, he said.

The bridging and windowing methods do, however, require permanent maintenance patches
of three or four lines wherever date code could cause application errors or failure.

Soeder said two-digit-year dates beginning with Jan. 1, 2000, can be stored in a binary
integer format without conflicting with ASCII- and EBCDIC-encoded dates ending in 00
through 99.

He insisted his methods of bridging and windowing will work because binary integers
occupy a range of bit-level values not used by any possible combination of ASCII- or
EBCDIC-encoded two-decimal digits between 00 and 99.

As a generalized programmer’s workbench, Millennium Key requires a knowledgeable
programmer to set up the rules of each language the tool scans.

Millennium Key, which has a full-function editor, performs variable delimited scans,
inclusive delimited scans and inclusive scans, Soeder said.

Brackets and spaces. “Space at the beginning and underscore at the end are what
Dyal 280 uses. Cobol uses space, space. C++ is bracket, bracket. That’s what makes
this thing powerful,” he said.

Programmers can run the Millennium Key workbench tool from any Java runtime-enabled

RMM’s partner company, the former ClarkNet now owned by Internet service provider
Verio Inc. of Denver, leases versions of Millennium Key for $249 per seat per month.

—Florence Olsen
[email protected] 


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