Things that make you go hmmmm ... #2

work   war stories  

IT's some years later than #1 and I'm working at another mainframe site. It's another large government site and I'm working with Adabase/Natural on a large system used to administer a piece of government legislation.

My boss was one of those guys who should never have been put in charge. He didn't understand the technology we used and had a particular habit of putting his foot in his mouth whenever possible. Usually in front of customers.

One day we are in a meeting. Myself, the boss, the architect, some other developers and the customer representatives. Being a large site, we didn't actually get to meet any real customers, just their 'Representatives' who where in fact other staff member who supposedly did meet the real customers.

So in this meeting we were talking about some new functionality that was being worked on. Listening to what was being said by the customer reps, I realised that they wanted a way to dynamically change the screen layout depending on the records being viewed. My boss and the architect were saying the system could not do this. So the customer reps would have to design every possible screen individually.

I realised that if I made use of a language feature I knew (and my boss and the architects clearly didn't) for dynamically generating screens, I could actually do what they wanted. I asked some questions to clarify what they wanted, then proposed that I could do this without too much troubling using these features. The customer reps were quite excited by this suggestion.

However my boss said that this could not be done. His reason was that the particular language feature was not part of the approved language guidelines for the site. Even though it had been part of the Natural language for the last two major versions.

So I asked what was needed to get it approved so we could use it to solve the problem. He replied that it had to be requested by the customer.

The customer reps looked at me, I looked at them. Isn't that what we were doing?

Needless to say. The customer never got those screens.


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