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06.06.1975

Documentation Dilemma The recent reports that "millions of taxpayer dollars and years of programming effort are being wasted due to poorly documented computer programs within the Federal Government" (CW, Nov. 20) only show the tip of the iceberg. If milli

Documentation Dilemma

The recent reports that "millions of taxpayer dollars and years of programming effort are being wasted due to poorly documented computer

programs within the Federal Government" (CW, Nov. 20) only show the tip of the iceberg.

If millions of dollars and years of effort are wasted trough poor documentation in the government alone, the figure for business and the U.S. economy as a whole must be staggering.

Certainly organizations should implement standards for documentation and review procedures to make sure that good documentation is maintained as recommended by the report.

But, in addition, programmers and analysts have to realize that good documentation is a necessary part of every program or system and that neither can be considered complete without it.

The documentation effort should not be regarded as something management forces on programmers, but should be considered an integral part of the programming job itseIf.

More to the Story

The user community should be properly underwhelmed by the official IBM edict that "Future Systems" (FS) is now a nonterm in the IBM dictionary of code names. That is almost like General Motors telling us the 1980 Chevy will definitely not be known as a Ford.

But there is more to the story. The IBM statement was described as a response to published reports that were interpreted by the company as having negative financial implications. That may have been part of the reason, but IBM officials have recently admitted 370 shipments to users will be down this year.

Users may have been adopting a wait-and-see attitude to evaluate what FS would look like in the late '70s. In that context, the IBM death knell for FS might be an attempt to reassure potential customers the 370 will be around for years to come.

Nevertheless, there is reason to believe the industry giant has altered its development of new systems. The term "FS" was actually dead for some time. The internal IBM project name has reportedly the "Graduate," and various subprojects were said to have been named for small colleges near Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

There is now evidence the Graduate is being disbanded. And experts point out resurrection of a similar team would take at least two years. The net effect to users is at least a two-year postponement of an FS-type system.

All this probably points to an interim family of processors somewhat beyond the present 370s but not quite up to FS or Graduate specifi