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Create Flow Diagrams of Lotusscript Code


A client recently hired me to document a highly complex but poorly commented Lotusscript agent to enable developers maintaining the application to make enhancements or fix bugs and know what the code is doing. The purpose of this particular work of genius was to allow users to generate a range of beautifully formatted MS Word reports based on Notes data, complete with dynamic table rows, shading, footnotes, etc. Everything worked well, and produced impressive results, but the 200+ printed pages of code was all but impenetrable.

About 50 subroutines and a half dozen functions were all lumped together, even though any given report only used around 10-20 of those subs. Key to untangling the relationships among the various code elements was producing a diagram showing the branching and looping structure. It occurred to me that there ought to be a tool out there capable of taking a pile of code and spitting out a Visio-like flowchart that would help illuminate the situation. I was right, sort of.

As is often the case, Lotusscript seems to be a nonentity among purveyors of development tools for traditional programming languages. I found not a single tool during a fairly extensive search that fit the bill precisely. It then occurred to me that since Lotusscript is essentially the same as Visual Basic, I could export the lotusscript, then save it as a VB *.bas file and then find a tool capable of analyzing VB.

The tool I found is called Code Visual to Flowchart from a company called FateSoft, which is designed for "
Reverse Engineering existing applications, automatically convert source code to a flowchart diagram". Unfortunately, it didn't end up proving very useful for this particular exercise since it doesn't seem to be able to diagram interrelated subroutines. It does however, appear to be a pretty useful way to diagram the code flow within a single subroutine. Since flowcharts can be exported into Visio or other formats, I could see this being a great tool to speed the creation of documentation. Not sure I've gotten my $100 worth yet, but I am hopeful.

In the end, I created a series of custom one-page diagrams that look like a bunch of nested boxes representing the primary looping features and listing which subroutines are called at the various levels. Not a flowchart at all. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone else who has had any similar experiences.

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