When a 3000 utility goes dark — because its creator has dropped MPE/iX operations, or the trail to the support business for the tool has grown faint — the 3000 community can serve up alternatives quickly. A mature operating system and experienced users offer options that are hard to beat.
Such was the case last week when Walter Murray, a former HP development engineer now with the California Dept. of Corrections IT staff, wondered about an alternative for Aldon Computing's SCOMPARE. That development tool has compared source files for more than 15 years in the HP 3000 world. There was no record of a valid license on the Murray's server for How now to compare, Murray wondered.
Not for long. Within 24 hours the experts on the HP 3000 mailing list offered six alternatives to the now-defunct SCOMPARE. Resource 3000 partner Allegro Consultants offers a free MPE/iX solution in SCOM, as verified by Allegro's Steve Cooper:
And, it's free, too!
and scroll down to "SCOM."
Other candidates included a compare UDC from Robelle, GNU Diff, diff in the HP 3000's Posix environment, DiffDaff on Windows, and more.
Bruce Collins of Softvoyage offered details on using diff in Posix:
run diff.hpbin.sys;info="FILE1 FILE2"
The file names use HFS syntax so they should be entered in upper case. If the files aren't in the current account or group they should be entered as /ACCOUNT/GROUP/FILE
Donna Garverick-Hofmeister, after verifying that Aldon is still in business, but not the MPE/iX business, offered a tip on using Robelle's compare UDC:
Regarding Robelle's compare. Being a scripting advocate, I strongly recommend adapting their UDC into a script.... and take a few seconds to add a wee bit of help text to the script, to make life more enjoyable for all (which *is* the reason for scripting, yes?)
In Microsoft's Visual Studio lies a tool called windiff, reported Larry Simonsen. Another former HP engineer, Lars Appel, brought up a Linux option in the KDE development environment:
On Linux, if you are using KDE, you might also find Kompare handy...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kompare (see screenshot)
On MPE, as others mentioned, there is still the Posix diff in two flavours: the HP supplied in /bin and the GNU version that lives in /usr/local/bin. The former allows two output formats (diff and diff -c), the latter also allows “diff -u” in addition.
Oh, regarding /bin/diff on MPE... I sometimes got “strange” errors (like “file too big”) from it when trying to compare MPE record oriented files. A workaround was to use tobyte (with -at options) to created bytestream files for diff’ing.
Appel was even able to address a concern of Murray's: "Then there’s the problem of comparing numbered files, like COBOL source files, when one or both files have been renumbered."
With Posix tools, one might use cut(1) with -c option to “peel off” the line number columns before using diff(1) for comparing the “meat”. Something in the line of ... /bin/cut -c7-72 SourceFile1 > BodyText1.
Murrary reported back at the end of the 24 hours to say that Aldon knew of HP 3000s and the licensing mechanisms, "and it sounds as though they are still willing to sell SCOMPARE and support contract for it." Which says something about the vigor of the 3000's ecosystem, six years after HP predicted its demise.