Ancient history



  • This is very old (well, early 90s) but I felt like reporting a WTF I was involved in back then.  Before I start, I would like to point out that I was an actuarial student back then & had no formal IT training.

     We were working on a system to provide illustrated benefits for some obscure scenario that the main illustration system couldn't handle.  I was involved with specifying the mathematical formulae and testing the numbers that came out.

    Someone else created a Fortran program which read a text file for inputs, calculated the illustrations, and wrote the results out to another text file.  No Fortran wasn't the WTF - a perfectly reasonable language to do mathematical caculations.

    I created a spreadsheet (Lotus 123 back then) front end which could write the input file, run the program and read the output file.  OK, getting a bit messy but it's still not the WTF.  This is before I'd even heard of VB.  It worked and the calcualations were far faster than doing everything in the spreadsheet.

    "The Real WTF" came after the test program had been tested by yours truly.  The powers that be decided it was going to be too expensive to build this as a mainframe solution for such a small product.  Since they already had a program that worked ...you can see where this is going, can't you?

    That wasn't the end of the story.  There are strict rules about the layout and wording of illustrations, far beyond the printing capabilities of Lotus 123.  Thus, I was called on again.  My brillant solution was to to create a Word Perfect merge document, using the fields from the output text file.

    Let's recap.  A user inputs data to a Lotus 123 spreadsheet & runs a macro.  This writes a text file and runs a fortran program, which produces another text file, read by the spreadsheet to review the results.  If the user wants to print out the results, they have to open a Word Perfect merge document and pick up the data from the file.  Does this count as an early use of n-tier architecture?



  • I think that 'n-tier' is only an appropriate term when each of the layers actually benefits the result....

    Maybe the correct term for this is n-hurdle or n-portcullis architecture... Or, how about n-dungeon?

    "This brilliant n-dungeon architecture starts with the Vignette Storyserver web dungeon, interfaces with the Intersystems Cache object database dungeon, and that talks to the reporting system in the ITS mainframe dungeon. (And they said the last ITS machines had been retired! We'll show them!)"
     



  • What, no javascript? Not even a hint of XML? Not really that enterprisey, is it?

     

    That said, it's surprising how quickly these things snowball if you're not careful. "Hey, 123 does that for me!" "Hmmm, this bit should really be written in FORTRAN"... Self-discipline is your salvation from the path to WTFery.



  • Sounds like a reasonable way to get pre-COM applications to communicate with eachother.



  • [quote user="Grauenwolf"]Sounds like a reasonable way to get pre-COM applications to communicate with eachother.[/quote]



    WTF



  • [quote user="RayS"]

    What, no javascript? Not even a hint of XML? Not really that enterprisey, is it?

     

    That said, it's surprising how quickly these things snowball if you're not careful. "Hey, 123 does that for me!" "Hmmm, this bit should really be written in FORTRAN"... Self-discipline is your salvation from the path to WTFery.

    [/quote]

    Back then, fixed-width records were the XML of the day and batch files (or sh scripts) were the javascript bindings. So it works!



  • [quote user="Grauenwolf"]Sounds like a reasonable way to get pre-COM applications to communicate with eachother.[/quote]

    Depending on what you meant, this could just be the biggest WTF in the thread. Using files to communicate between chained applications is not a totally stupid way to transmit decent amounts of data between them, admittedly. But the number of 'tiers' (insert your own crying-related pun here) needed to do this simple task is definitely not reasonable.


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