10 March 2012

The terror of “almost”

I faced an ancient program this week, written in C (gcc dialect, thankfully), which had a nice, neat, universal association between struct definitions & file-handles, another between the filenames of the files containing those structures (no ISAM here, only flat files) & file-handles... almost.

Of maybe 60 structures, manual exceptions would be required for about 7 of them. Of maybe 80 filenames, manual exceptions would be required for about 13 of them. One needs to invent mythical file-handles to make the connection, where no “natural” connection exists. Factor that out for approximately 91 combinations, & no simple diagnostics for any of them.

This is akin to Wiley Coyote watching the dust clear mid-pursuit... to discover that he’s almost standing on the edge of the canyon (queue whistling noise, dense <thud>).

This association has to be definitively made in order to export the data into a database format which is actually useful. At that point, this program may have a future. <sigh> Integrating of at least 7 x 13 manual exceptions into an export routine now scheduled.

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