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Customizing the Sizes of Data Fields

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000082357D
Original Publication Date: 1974-Nov-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Feb-28
Document File: 2 page(s) / 14K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Gordon, RD: AUTHOR

Abstract

Previously, a user had to specify the size and characteristics of his data fields or accept a "standard" default definition.

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Customizing the Sizes of Data Fields

Previously, a user had to specify the size and characteristics of his data fields or accept a "standard" default definition.

An alternative is to code the data fields into types, such as predefined transaction codes, name and address character strings, serial numbers, quantities and amounts dependent upon business volumes, fractions used for inventory quantities, etc. The customer specifies sizes for input types of data without defining specific fields. The specified sizes are checked for consistency and are then applied to fields during field selection.

Specifically, this approach treats record fields and internal work areas as essentially identical and recognizes the following classes of fields:
1. Predefined codes and symbols, such as transaction codes,

which

are assumed to have fixed attributes and whose exact data

values are predictable within a limited set of possibilities.
2. Fields whose attributes are fixed by convention, such as

dates.
3. Character strings, such as names and addresses, which can be

of any length up to some hardware-or program-defined limit.
4. Serial numbers such as customer numbers, which are either

alphanumeric or numeric integers, and whose sizes depend on

the user's business volumes but which may be oversized to

allow for encoding.
5. Quantities and amounts which are always numeric, and whose

sizes depend directly on the business volumes the user

encounters.
6. Currency values (whose decimals depend on the units used

currency dealings), decimalized stock keeping units for

inventory, and decimalized time units for payroll.
7. Precise fractions, used for stock unit prices and costs and

for tax and discount rates.
8. Intermediate results in internal program multiplication and

division which must be defined according to programming

standards

to avoid compound rounding errors or truncation.

The alternative sizing approach uses a multiple-choice questionnaire of about three or four dozen questions, followed by a list of three or four dozen specific data base fields (approximately 20 pages of a four-application questionnaire). The questions deal with user business volumes only, without reference to specific data base fields, and have a form such as the following: Q. Largest amount of one invoice? (mark only one) a) 100-999 thousand dollars - $XXX,000
b) 10-99 thousand dollars - $XX,000 c) 1-9 thousand dollars - $X,000 d) Under 1000 dollars - $X00 Q. Fractions us...