Tuesday, July 9, 2013

HamCalc Quirk of the Week

The HamCalc program binhop is one of those little nuggets of beauty that might be helpful or might be useless. Or. Perhaps there's some useful stuff commingled with quirky stuff.

For folks in agriculture or manufacturing, I'm hoping that the calculation could be helpful. Although it's also likely that folks don't spend much time designing hoppered bins; they just buy something out of a catalog.

The binhop program is 151 lines long. Of those lines, 13 lines appear to be some orphaned code that doesn't belong there. They appear to be part of a hoppered bin design program that appears to have been split off into binvol.

It's easy to grep for all 46 instances of (?:GOTO|GOSUB|THEN)\s+\d\d\d0 to locate references to line numbers. We're only interested in line numbers from 1050 to 1170. Of course, there are none.


This is GW-Basic. Maybe there's a language or implementation quirk that makes this code somehow get executed? It seems highly doubtful. After all, it's only 151 lines of code. It's relatively easy to read and understand what's there. 

This kind of quirk demonstrates that an "automated" code conversion is rarely going to be helpful. An automated conversion of orphaned code means that the good stuff is diluted by the bad stuff.

I spent the most time with this fumbling through the alternative use cases to see what the program does. It doesn't do much. But it's important to be sure that this calculation isn't part of the use cases. It doesn't get a unit test.

More Oddness

This program has another cute quirks that is less brain-scrambling than orphaned code.

1020 :REM'

What if C$ is neither SIDE nor CENTER? There's no "otherwise" case expressed or implied. It just "falls through" to the next line of code.

In this case, the next line of code just happens to be the orphaned code starting on line 1050. This will do some calculations on variables which merely have their GW-Basic default values of 0. Since line 1170 ends with a RETURN, the program will appear to "work". It won't crash outright. It just executes a bunch of useless statements.

In other programs with similar structure, the following line of code is a RETURN (or a STOP or even an END in one case.)

Since C$ is only referenced in five lines of code, it's easy to be certain that it can only have one of the two values. Of the five references, one is a PRINT statement. Two are the above IF statements. The other two are assignment statements. 

Here are the two assignment statements:

650 Y$=INKEY$:IF Y$=""THEN 650
660 IF Y$="1"THEN GOSUB 1340:C$="SIDE":R=1:RETURN
680 BEEP
690 GOTO 650

It's clear that C$ is restricted to a domain of just two values. The lack of a formal "otherwise" case in the 1020-1040 block of code is just a weird little quirk. 


By adding documentation and test cases, we've bloated the good bits up to 336 lines of code.

This reflects two decisions. It seemed sensible to (nearly) duplicate some similar blocks of code rather than try to use a single block of code peppered with IF-statements. IF-statements raise the cyclomatic complexity. Lines of code just make it longer. Also, we've combined all of binvol into binhop.

In the long run, I know nothing about the subject matter. Nor did I even do the minimal amount of online research to confirm the formulae in the program. I'm secretly hoping that someone who actually understands this subject area will revise and correct the code to make it more useful and complete.