New Toolset Emphasizes Classic Approach to Y2K

Since its inception, developers and users have been attracted to the AS/400 because of its tightly integrated environment. However, Year 2000 work has tended to run contrary to this approach, often requiring different tools and methods for each stage of the process.

That's why Seagull Software (Atlanta) recently entered the market with ZeroFix, which emphasizes a "lifecycle" approach to Year 2000 work -- employing a single common workbench environment to assess, convert, audit and test for century dates. "The Year 2000 process has a lot of complicated steps," says Kim Addington, VP of marketing for Seagull. "Multiply that by the number of programs and databases that are in a typical installation, and the permutations get pretty big. An integrated full lifecycle toolset helps you manage that process and eliminate transition steps."

ZeroFix runs against both source and object code, says Scott Salisbury, director of ZeroFix product development for Seagull. ZeroFix is based on technology that Seagull acquired in 1997 from Edge Communications Inc. (Nashville, Tenn.). A client/server approach was added to that technology, enabling development work to be conducted from a PC networked to the AS/400, Addington says.

For auditing purposes, ZeroFix logs various fixes or other actions throughout the remediation cycle, Salisbury says. "We have a chronological review of each action against an object. There's a history that develops for every object across the entire application that you're running ZeroFix over."

Otsego County, N.Y., which had four programmers attempting to remediate 17 applications, was able to tie its efforts together with ZeroFix, reports Brian Pokorny, director of MIS for the county's administrative operations. The county's AS/400-based code enforcement application, which tracks building permits, inspections, and fire certificates, was inspected, repaired, tested and put back into production in about two months' time, he says.

ZeroFix may also be suitable for post-Year 2000 activity, Addington claims. ZeroFix tracks the way fields are used across the systems, a handy application for other development efforts, she says. "As you build new feature functions and enhance existing applications, it can serve as a cataloging and cross-referencing tool."