OK. Let’s see if I can explain what I’m seeing without reference to any specifics.
Note that I have all this collated and can provide examples from the reporting system’s output to anyone sufficiently interested in looking at them via private message. I just don’t want to allude to the name of system, its owners or anything that could identify it in a public post.
We’re talking about an ADABAS/Natural database belonging to a small (US) state or local government agency, that was in continuous operation from circa 30 years ago to within the last five, when it was replaced. I assume the replacement to have been RDBMS, but don’t know anything about it, and it isn’t actually relevant. This database had a custom reporting system that was accessible from the mainframe terminal client. It was developed circa 20 years ago.
There are three report types that system could output, which I’ll call 1), 2) and 3). 1) and 2) were generated on a monthly basis, usually, while 3) was run about one time per year. The agency was legally obligated to publish 3) by local statute. Each of the report types could be generated as HTML, or displayed in the terminal client and then printed to a local printer.
From circa 20 years ago to circa 15 years ago, only the latest monthly HTML copies of 1) and 2) were available on the agency’s website, while printed versions of each month’s reports were collated in three ring binders and filed for future reference. This backlog of printed versions was scanned and the scans made available through the website circa 10 years ago. Between circa 15 years ago and circa 10 years ago, 1) and 2) were run and uploaded to the website manually. Since circa 10 years ago, the reports have run automatically on 3rd of every month.
From circa 20 years ago to circa 10 years ago, report 3) was published on the website in its HTML format. Then, suddenly from circa 10 years ago to the system’s replacement within the last 5, the 3) reports became scans of print outs. The main difference between the printed version of 3) and the HTML version was that there was no legend and some of the labeling was less clear. In the new system, rather than the formatted HTML used for reports 1) and 2), which emulates the HTML formatting of the old system, 3) is now output as a custom PDF which emulates the old system’s printout version.
By dint of looking at archived copies of that agency’s staff directory on its webpage, I know who was responsible for developing and maintaining the system. I don’t know who they contracted to build the new one though. Since this post is already WAY too detailed and long, I’ll gloss over those details.
The basic question circles back to the original post though. If the ability to generate report 3) as HTML was extant in the old system’s user interface when the new one was being developed, how incompetent would the person doing that development have been not to find and incorporate it into the new system? Even if the documentation on how to use the function had been lost. If it was not extant in the UI but the feature had only been commented out in the source instead of deleted completely, would a source code review might have found it have been likely?
The upshot is that if function was not extant, it had to have been deleted, and there seems to be no legitimate reason to do that.
I know next to nothing about ADABAS/Natural or the best practices for migrating systems, but I know if I was developing a new SQL Server based systems, I would check what the old systems UI options were.
Hope that’s comparatively clear… :roll: