Tool Provides Macro Perspective on Y2K Fixes

Once you update code for Year 2000, there may be unforeseen changes in what end-users see in applications, or even drags on performance. To help developers visualize the impact of changes down the IT food chain, AutoTester Inc. (Dallas) is shipping the latest version of its AutoTester 2000, a Windows PC-based tool which provides an "auto-playback" environment. The tool operates much like a macro, which "captures what the user does with the application, and plays that back when you want to run a test," says Chris Hedden, spokesman for AutoTester.

The tool enables developers to compare pre- and post-remediation code changes. "AutoTester captures the user working with the transaction on the system, including user input, system responses, keyboard input, and mouse movements," says Hedden. "You make your changes to the system, and rerun the test to make sure the changes worked as you intended."

The tool, which works in concert with IBM Client Access and most other 5250 emulation environments, helps manage Year 2000 testing within complex distributed environments. "In a large-scale multi-server environment, there's tremendous chances for complexity to creep in and cause problems," says Hedden. Complications arise "if changing dates on one part of the program can affect something somewhere else," he points out. That's why "a test environment should enable developers to see and evaluate the effect of the changes to the end-user. One small change one place can have a huge effect somewhere else, not only in functionality, but also performance."

Along with a software tool, AutoTester also offers professional services for Y2K testing, including training, implementation support, and test scripting assistance. AutoTester can also be applied to other large-scale conversion projects besides Y2K, Hedden adds. Implementations of ERP or e-commerce packages can drag down the performance of the system. "We offer a load-testing scenario that can help improve the quality of the system," he notes.