Seec automates 2000 bug fix

The development tool maker has released a tool that automates Year 2000 fixes in mainframe computer programs written in Cobol.

Mike Ricciuti
Mike Ricciuti Staff writer, CNET News
Mike Ricciuti joined CNET in 1996. He is now CNET News' Boston-based executive editor and east coast bureau chief, serving as department editor for business technology and software covered by CNET News, Reviews, and Download.com. E-mail Mike.
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Development tool maker
Seec has released a tool that can take some of the pain out of making old software Year 2000 aware.

The tool, Smart Change 2000, automates Year 2000 date conversion fixes in mainframe computer programs written in the Cobol language.

The Year 2000 problem, otherwise known as the millennium bug, boils down to this: Many computer systems use software that only uses the last two numbers of the year, such as 97 instead of 1997, to track dates. So when 00 comes up for the year 2000 in date fields, computers will view it as the year 1900 instead, potentially causing widespread problems.

Older mainframe applications, sometimes referred to as "legacy" systems, are especially troublesome. The original code, called source code, for many mainframe programs is hard--or impossible--to track down. Many systems are more than 30 years old, and the original programmers have long since retired and source code has been lost. That means programmers need to reverse-engineer old compiled Cobol systems to see what makes them tick.

Seec, along with other development tool makers, is jumping on the bandwagon for supplying IS departments and computer consultants with tools for making Year 2000 fixes easier to handle.

While Smart Change 2000 won?t help programmers unless source code is available, it does ease the process of pinpointing date fields that need to be changed, the company says.

Seec says the tool lets programmers understand how date fields fit into a program?s logic, and helps determine a plan of attack for changing date fields to recognize four-digit year designations.

The tool notates each date field with recommendations as to the best way to fix them. Programmers have the option of fixing the code by hand or allowing the tool to automatically recode the software.

Smart Change 2000 runs on Windows-based PCs. Pricing ranges between $100,000 and $500,000, based on the number of units purchased and the size of the targeted application.