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by Mark Trescowthick - GUI Computing
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Hands up those that have scanned all the source they've developed for clients over the years to ensure it's Y2K compliant? Not exactly a forest of hands I see…

If you've done so, you'll know it's a painstaking and time-consuming job, and not one that can safely be left in the hands of a junior. If you have strict coding standards, then that will help, but we all deviate from standards sometimes. It's a line-by-line crawl in some cases. Not fun - the main reason I suspect many developers haven't started yet.

Of course, it may be that your client's code is their responsibility, and you don't want anything to do with it. But, viewed as an opportunity for more work…

The main problem I've seen with Y2K scanners for VB (and why I've not invested in one) is that they constrict your choice of keywords to scan. In fact, most don't give you any choice in the matter at all. This makes me more than a little nervous. I know how arcane some programmers can be, and I potentially want one keyword list per developer, or even project. Or more than one. There just didn't seem to be a product out there that would do the job the way I wanted… I'd scoured the Web.

What a pity I hadn't looked in my own back yard! Melbourne's own Romtree Software have just the beast I was looking for - VisualScan 2000. In fact, it's more than I was looking for in one way - it not only understands VB3, 4 and 5, it also goes searching through QueryDefs in Access databases (a place I confess I hadn't really thought to look for Y2K problems).

VisualScan 2000 is a cheap ($299) and very effective way of hunting down potential Y2K embarrassments. It uses a pretty standard looking explorer-style interface, and isn't cluttered with a million extra features I don't need (in fact, as of the date of writing, it isn't cluttered with any help either, but that will change over the next two weeks or so, I'm promised) and it's fast - I scanned a project with about 70 forms and modules in well under a minute.

The scanning process can be either automatic or manual. In the former, the scan wizard simply rips through each file in a project (or directory, if you prefer) and then reports. In manual mode, each potential problem is presented and you can choose to keep it marked as a problem or not. Importantly, you can also choose to ignore any further instances. This is a great feature I've not seen anywhere else and combined with the ability to specify keywords to search for (and exclude) makes Visual Scan 2000 a more powerful tool than its simple approach to the problem would indicate.

Another neat feature is the fact that multiple projects or directories can be grouped in one Visual Scanner file. This tremendous for larger projects, which may typically consist of numerous sub-projects.

Scan results can be saved for future use, so you can have someone junior run an auto-scan, for instance, then devolve the decision making on possible errors to someone senior. Naturally, you can also report scan results on paper.

If you (like me) have a stock of old code hanging about waiting to cause clients problems, then I thoroughly recommend Visual Scan 2000.

Available from GUI Computing.



Written by: Mark Trescowthick
June '98

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