in reply to Re: SSN's possible new Y2K problem?
in thread SSN's possible new Y2K problem?

Er, well since you work for the US payroll industry I can see why you would say what you say. But I still think that tye is actually right and you are wrong. His comments about international issues are particularly relevent. For instance I work for an US headquatered company with a very international presence. For quite a while we in Europe were unable to obtain even basic service from the US company because we had no SSN. In fact their comments when the subject was raised usually amounted to a suspicious "How can you work for us if you dont have a valied SSN?" "I work in europe" "And you dont have a valid SSN?" *sigh*

Consider a more flexible design: two tables, one that contains the definitions of various form of ID (such as US-SSN CA-SIN UK-whatever ...) which is referenced by the table that stores the IDS, in other words your US centric SSN becomes a two part ID, the SSN itself and the type of ID that it is.

Yes of course this would mean that your software becomes slightly more complex, but then again its market potential goes from 270Million to the worlds population of 6 billion. A small tradeoff I woudl say.

As a developer in an international company, with a North American origin, I am constantly amazed and amused at how often my North American colleagues make design decisions that mean their software is utterly unflexible in other enviornments and is utterly mated to a fixed NA concept of how to do things (and correspondingly useless outside of those areas). Examples include area codes, phone numbers, addresses, billing regulations, tax codes and the like. Designing your software to be properly flexible for alternate operating enviornments can only be a plus. An example is this: at some point (2-5 years maybe?) all of you in NA are going to have to go through something horrible, a telephone renumbering. (the UK monks will remember their (two!) experiences with this in recent years) This will involve adding at least one digit to every North American phone number, most likely but not necessarily the area code (a common approach has been to do away with the useful and convenient but unscalable fixed length area codes and go with flexible length area codes, this minimizes the number fo people who have to relearn phone numbers, as only the area code changes). So ask yourself this, of the code that you have been involved in, how much would have to be rewritten if this was to happen? How much extra work would it have really required to design your software so that it was flexible in this regard from the very begining? And ask yourself the most important question: which would have been cheaper?

Yves / DeMerphq
Software Engineering is Programming when you can't. -- E. W. Dijkstra (RIP)