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Lotus bug threatens imported data

The bug occurs when using the shortcut "slash file import" to import a file into the spreadsheet software, Lotus confirmed.

A bug in Lotus 1-2-3 97 can cause users to lose data when importing files, the company confirmed today.

The bug occurs when using the shortcut "slash file import" to import a file with hundreds of lines of data into the spreadsheet software. Data entered into lines 162, 322, 483, 644, and 793 will be lost, according to BugNet.

The problematic shortcut is a legacy of older coding.

"When Lotus came out with the 32-bit Windows version, they laid the standard Windows interface on top, but maintained the old commands for the large installed base," explained BugNet publisher Bruce Brown. Longtime users who have upgraded to the Windows version of Lotus 1-2-3 but still use the classic commands will be affected by the problem.

The IBM subsidiary confirmed that the problem exists, but pointed out that individual users can avoid the bug by using the file menu to import data. The bug will be fixed in the next version of 1-2-3, Lotus promised.

In the meantime, large corporate users encountering the problem will have to rewrite all of their macros.

"The work-around is easy and not that big a deal if all you're doing is importing a file. The real problem exists for large corporate users who have large macros," said Brown, who added that he doesn't believe Lotus is providing an adequate fix. "We think users have a right to a program that can be used as advertised."

Lotus says that there is no better solution than what it is offering. "It's an easy but time-consuming fix," said Chris McLellan, product manager for Lotus 1-2-3. Although only users who haven't updated their macro commands since the DOS version of 1-2-3 will be affected, Lotus hasn't pushed users to upgrade the old commands and indeed has made backward-compatibility in their applications a priority, she conceded.

"In general, we try to make sure all of those old commands work," she said. "This is one command out of hundreds or possibly thousands."