Archive for January, 2010

Adventure in Modernization

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

But sometimes, to old codgers like me, it’s difficult to know just how far to go. In previous posts I have written about my vaguely negative feelings about freeform RPG, and I have written very clearly about how I feel about IBM’s unwillingness to implement the MOVE instruction in freeform RPG, pointing out how this can only hinder conversion of old code and diminish acceptance of the new RPG dialect.

Case in point, a program I was working on today. I was writing code to implement formatting of a six-digit account number based upon the rightmost 6 digits of an 11-digit number. It was based upon some old code (the usual situation where I work), but the old code was hideous. The old program consisted of about 15 lines of MOVE and MOVEL statements. I said, this has got to go.

So I contemplated the best way to do it. I could set up a data structure and put pieces of the account number into that, using EVALs or MOVEs,with dashes embedded as needed. But that didn’t seem quite elegant enough. I have been working harder to modernize my own code, so I finally broke it down to these two possibilities, as illustrated in this test program. The result I am aiming for is the number formatted as 01-234-5.

     D BACTNO          S             11  0 INZ(99999012345)
     D ACC6            S              8    INZ(*BLANKS)
     D NUM6            S              6  0 INZ(0)
     D ACCW            C                   '0  -   - '
       EVALR ACC6 = %EDITW(%DEC(%SUBST(%EDITC(BACTNO:'X'):6:6):6:0):ACCW);
     C                   MOVE      BACTNO        NUM6
     C                   EVALR     ACC6 = %EDITW(NUM6:ACCW)
     C                   EVAL      *INLR= *ON

One way mixes the old and the new, with an old-fashioned MOVE to the smaller field, followed by a new-fangled %EDITW BIF using a predefined edit word. The other goes full-bore new age, with one grand set of embedded functions. To get the 11 digit number in string form so I can substring it, I use %EDITC with an X edit code, which does the conversion. Next, I %SUBST (substring) the last six characters. I then use %DEC to convert those six characters back to numeric. Finally, I apply the %EDITW function to format those six digits as desired. (I would be interested in finding out about a shorter way to do it.)

But I have a problem with it. In an earlier post, I pointed out that the ability to create long, complex functions in freeform is not necessarily a virtue. The mere fact that I felt the need to explain it here indicates that I am not comfortable with it. The code is short, but I do not feel that it is clear. On the other hand, while the the two-line version using MOVE is short and sweet, and uses a BIF, it would force me to get out of freeform to use the MOVE; stylistically, that also seems wanting.

Since the thrust of my thinking is in trying to modernize the code so future generations of converted C programmers won’t be freaked out by the C in column 6, I am leaning toward the one-line version. But I don’t like it. It’s ugly.