Now -- Debugging On-the-Fly

One of the difficulties about testing for Year 2000 or other bugs is that, when an error comes up, corrections must be dealt with separately by taking an application off-line. A new PC-based tool now enables debugging to take place while a program is still up and running.

The tool -- Visual Debugger for Windows -- is a source-level debugger for the AS/400 that runs on Windows PCs. Developed by Tango/04 Computing Group (Toronto), Visual Debugger helps developers solve unexpected application problems while in production mode. Such capabilities include changing library lists, local data areas and QTEMP objects, as well as executing any command in the target job. Visual Debugger supports all ILE compilers and CASE-generated source code (Synon, ProGen, AS/SET). Debugging takes place on a Windows PC, which is linked to a component running on the machine-level interface of the AS/400 server.

Visual Debugger for Windows is compatible with IBM's Source Entry Utility (SEU) and most Windows-based code editors such as IBM's CODE/400 and Flex/Edit by Aldon Computer Group (Oakland, Calif.). However, IBM's tools "can't get to a batch job, halt it midstream, fix the problem, and let it continue on its merry way," says Jerry Kosmachuk, VP with Tango/04.

Visual Debugger can function as a debugging tool for follow-up work on Year 2000 remediation, according to Kosmachuk. "With Year 2000, you're doing a lot of testing, followed by migration into production. However, you may have code paths that were never tested," he says, adding that Visual Debugger identifies such untested code.

Developers may view active jobs through a Windows Explorer-style utility, which can be accessed through double-clicking, Kosmachuk explains. "You can see everything, and start a debugging session right then and there. You don't have to end the job, then start up your debugger."