Edge Radically Automates Field-Expansion Process

Though it's the preferred method, many Y2K experts and tools providers say it's too late to do field expansions -- the adding of two digits to date fields. However, Brian Brown, president of Nashville-based Edge Communications, is not a fan of the alternative, windowing, where system clocks are set back to 1972, or in which applications assign "19s" or "20s" to dates falling before or after a specified pivot date. "Windowing is purely a shortcut," he relates. "At the end of the day, all your programs will function, but your database is not right. Do you want to run your business on that?"

The only hope for field expansion at this point, he says, is complete automation of the process. That's why Edge Communications recently launched an integrated solution that comes close to a completely automating the Year 2000 field expansion process for AS/400 sites. The toolset, called FastTrack, is launched from a "one- button push," says Brown. With a single keystroke and one job submit, FastTrack files and programs automatically perform field expansion and program repair tasks. "It goes out, checks your source, creates the archives, and creates the working copy," he explains.

The toolset, which includes Edge Communications' Century Solution conversion tool, repairs all physical and logical database files, display and print files (DSPF, PRTF), CL Programs and RPG programs. FastTrack compiles all the remediated data into a test environment, Brown explains. "FastTrack compiles that object over into a test world. After you push that button, you should have a test world created, where you're ready to start your testing." Tested objects are then moved back into production. Manual intervention is still required for flat-file environments such as S/36 code, he adds.

Edge Communications also announced it has added a detailed report capability into Century Solution, enabling end-users to audit every phase of the conversion process, including the viability of databases, object code, fields, and files, as well as migration readiness.

The company also recently launched a support service to help AS/400 shops get up and running with Century Solution. Brown notes that when he first launched Century Solution in 1995, typical customers were early adopters who were able to carefully develop their strategy. "Now we're seeing more panicked type of customer," he observes. The purpose of the service "is to get the customer as quickly as possible comfortable using the tool and its methodology, and to start the project." The program typically lasts about three to four days, and will remain active until January 1, 2000. Brown is still deciding what kind of follow-up service to offer post-2000. "We fully intend to offer technical support and enhancements to the product beyond January 1, 2000," he says. "But for now, we're encouraging everybody to get it done by then."