Re: On Legacy Applications and Previous Work

"chris (c.d.) donawa" <>
Mon, 21 Mar 1994 18:25:57 GMT

          From comp.compilers

Related articles
On Legacy Applications and Previous Work PAUL@TDR.COM (Paul Robinson) (1994-03-06)
Re: On Legacy Applications and Previous Work (chris (c.d.) donawa) (1994-03-21)
Re: On Legacy Applications and Previous Work (1994-03-14)
Re: On Legacy Applications and Previous Work (1994-03-16)
Re: On Legacy Applications and Previous Work (1994-03-22)
Re: On Legacy Applications and Previous Work (1994-03-23)
Re: On Legacy Applications and Previous Work (1994-03-24)
Re: On Legacy Applications and Previous Work (1994-03-25)
[2 later articles]
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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: "chris (c.d.) donawa" <>
Followup-To: talk.politics
Keywords: tools
Organization: Bell-Northern Research, Ottawa, Ontario
References: 94-03-034
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 1994 18:25:57 GMT

: I wouldn't have thought much about real issues until my eyes were opened.
: I happened to purchase a copy of Edward Yourdon's "Death of the American
: Programmer." People may not agree with all of his ideas, but he made a

Yes, I got some junk mail from Yourdon, trying to sell his
      "Guerilla Programmer" newsletter, to protect me from foreign programmers
      (oops, being Bajan/Canadian, perhaps I shouldn't have read it!)

: This article focuses rather heavily on COBOL, but I suspect that in all
: but the newest places, more than 1/2 of all pre-existing programs are
: COBOL applications more than five years old.

I'm curious about this. I know this was true for some companies, and
outside consultants were brought in and milking the problem for all it was
worth, but in talking to some people from other companies, there seems to
be considerable effort to replace home-grown monolithic systems with
commercial packages and/or rewrite things. My understanding is that this
is the motivation for the huge commercial popularity of C++: basically you
can take (bad) C programs and migrate them slowly into a (potentially)
more maintainable OO framework. In '91 OOPSLA Jackobson talks about
migrating large systems towards OO frameworks. I beleive he is working
with Erikson, a large telecommunications company that is moving all their
stuff to OO. And of course AT&T are very talented in this area. My
understanding is that AT&T are now reaping huge benefits (in terms of
reliability) from this shift.

: 2. Do you know how much money a programmer with a college degree and
: C programming experience makes in China? About $180 a month. And

: Let's not forget that India, is doing a lot of transshipment of
: programmers here, where they can do better quality work than we do
: for less money. I won't argue over whether this is good or bad;
: the fact is, it is happening now. Even if there wasn't a single
: imported programmer allowed into the country, software is not a
: product that is capital intensive; the people don't have to be where
: the work is.

I agree--It's an excellent opportunity for 3rd world countries to help dig
themselves out of their dependency on more powerful nations. There is
great potential, and several companies (some US oil and gas ones plus
European ones) already help employ programmers in India. There is, of
course a basic literacy requirement, which is why some Caribbean countries
are also being utilized.

: Which leads to the next step: sending the specifications overseas and
: having a shop there write the code, then bringing it back here to have

I think this is straying into the area of software engineering. My
impression, from what I've heard, is that the problem of specification is
very difficult, and distances exacerbate the problem. Giving programs a
fuzzy (or incorrect) spec is just asking for problems.

: Don't be too smug if you're in Europe. India has had 350 years of
: Britsh Rule; a lot of people there speak English well and have had
: extensive education which was developed by England. How can you
: tell whether a programmer who wrote a program did so from a terminal
: in Cambridge or one in Calcutta? Especially if the program is
: published by an EC-based company with a London address.

I believe Europe also includes such places as France, Holland, Germany,
Switzerland, Austria etc, and is a source of excellent research and products.

: Did anyone notice that the premier graphics package, Corel Draw!,
: was created by a company in Canada? The game "Tetris" was developed
: by two programmers in Moscow. Minor inroads, but they are the hints
: of future developments.

Don't forget AutoCAD (Swiss I believe, employing programmers in the US--I
think they're cheaper than in Switzerland).

I heard an interesting story from a compiler company headquarted in
Montreal. They have an excellent C/C++ compiler for the PowerPC
Macintosh, as well as Modula-2 compilers. Their distribution point is
through the US, because apparently some American users prefer to think it
comes from the US.

: Why then, can't we go further and allow people to pick functions
: and create a program graphically? Yes, I know there are some

Are you refering to SDL? Out of curiosity, has anyone developed a major
system with it?

: - We need to develop better repositories to store source code, and
: the other things that go along with it, such as documentation.

Check out RCS, publicly available through GNU.

: - Create better checkout and merge capability for applications
: which are worked on by multiple people. Checkout facilities for

See RCS, and look into CVS.

: Like it or dislike it, COBOL is not going to wither away any time soon;
: there's probably some $50 billion in programming assets tied up in it.

My impression is that the cost of these COBOL systems will keep increasing
until the companies finally bite the bullet and invest in a new system.
It's cheaper than having them develop an OO-COBOL compiler, and I haven't
heard of any research, much less a company develop such a beast.
Christopher M. Donawa
Embedded Systems Technologies (613) 763-9605
Bell-Northern Research, Ottawa ON CANADA fax:(613) 763-7241

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