by Brett Sheppard - GUI Computing
Unless you have been hiding in a cave for the last few years you have most likely heard of the Millennium Bug which will become a reality in not much more than a year. Regular readers will know that this is a hot topic with our Editor (who doubles as my boss!).
Will the application you are building for your client or have been maintaining for your client start to produce inaccurate data and other anomalies on the big day? The sound of 100,000 lawyers greedily rubbing their hands together, waiting for it all to hit the fan is almost deafening.
The only way to avoid all these problems is to rigorously test your apps now and one product that will help you do that is FMS Total Access Inspector 2000 for Microsoft Access.
Now TAI 2000 does not promise to modify and fix all of your problems in your database. Nor does it claim to be able to pinpoint every single occurrence of a Y2K bug. It will however, save you an enormous amount of time by producing a report that will tell you where to find possible errors and give you an accurate indication of just how bad it could be.
Once installed, TAI 2000 becomes an Add-in for Access and when run, consists of a wizard which helps you step through the analyzing of your database. The first step is the Object Selection page where you can choose which database objects you want to check. You can list all available objects within your database, or view a select group such as form, queries or table objects.
The next important stage of the TAI 2000 is the String Search Selection Form. This screen allows you to choose what words you want inspected throughout the database. It will search through macros, property values etc. There are a number of built in strings such as "Date" and "CVDate" etc which should cover the majority of keywords you would want to look for. However, it also allows you to create your own User Defined words that might be part of programming standards in your company such as RD which might stand for Required Date. For each individual search string you can specify whether you require a whole word match or just a partial match as well. The exclusion of certain words is also possible. For example, you would probably want to exclude finding the word date in Update. This is all very straightforward and easy to do. (Which is what a wizard should do I hear you say.)
For the actual data in your database TAI 2000 will analyze date values, for example two digit years such as 98 equaling 1998, and Time and non date fields that are being used to store dates. What I like about this is the way you can choose whether you want to search through every single record from each table, or just nominate a certain number of records to be sought through for each table. (If you have a table with 10's of thousands of records then that is exactly where you want to be in my opinion.) Part of the inspection includes working out the minimum and maximum values for all date, text and numeric fields to ensure that all possible combinations of data have been inspected.
At the end of these wizard screens an analysis summary is generated to show you what you have requested from the program. Another handy feature implemented is that you can schedule when you want the inspection to take place. This allows you to specify a time where the number of users working with the database will be at a minimum so as to reduce any possible conflicts. After you have completed the wizard, TAI 2000 then analyses your database for all possible infringements of Year 2000 issues ultimately producing a summary of all the suspected problems grouped into differing degrees of risk.
Before we get on to the reports generated by TAI 2000 I think I should also mention that the manual is quite good as it explains the different issues you might face when trying to get your database Y2K compliant. It's not the be all and end all of information on the subject, but it sheds a bit of light on areas such as understanding century assumptions and four digit date years. It's something to chew over anyway as you "debug" your Access database.
The detailed reports produced by TAI 2000 can be printed or previewed in many different formats. A few examples include listing issues in terms of risks, form and report controls with date issues, table analysis and any external references made to name just a couple. Some of the reports will overlap with some of their information but I'd rather have too much info than not enough. There is a whole chapter in the manual devoted to what each report will produce and how you can effectively use them when tackling your Y2K problems. After being a bit overawed at first by the amount of information being thrown at me with an example database I was using, I found most of the reports to be quite well set out and informative in the way it pinpointed where future problems with my database may exist.
This is a really simple and helpful program to use that will save you a lot of research time. Trying to spot all the Y2K problems in your database could be an exhaustive, boring and time consuming process, especially if you are not aware of every single issue that databases will face on 1,1,2000. So, save some time and check out Total Access Inspector 2000 for Microsoft Access.
At $839, it's not cheap (thanks to the Aussie Dollar), but if you need it you really need it. It's an ideal companion for VisualScan 2000, the VB Y2K scanner reviewed last issue.
For more information head on over to http://www.fmsinc.com or drop GUI Sales a line.