Programming language Mapper - fit for purpose?
In 1984, a London company commissioned a system (hardware and software) to help them run their insurance business. The hardware was delivered and the software was developed by a software house over the next few years using a Unisys product called Mapper. Dissatisfaction with the bespoke software eventually led to the client terminating their agreement with the software house in 1987. I believe the software house called upon their professional indemnity insurance and the client was reimbursed. In 1993, they then sought to recover their loss by taking an action against Unisys, the supplier of the hardware and programming language used by the software house to produce the bespoke software. The argument was that the software house failed to produce a suitable system because the programming language was not fit for purpose.
Having been a Mapper programmer since the late seventies, I was asked to help ascertain the suitability of Mapper for this project. An interesting element in the case was that the failed project was taken in-house by the client who hired contract programmers and wrote the software for themselves in far less than two years. The software they produced was also written in Mapper and was used for well over ten years to run their business. One might assume that this would make for a very simple case but there was a lot of money at stake and so there were many complications added to the argument.
The case lasted over a year in total and went to The High Court in London where I attended for several days giving evidence over two days. I also sat in court whilst other witnesses gave their evidence and passed notes to the Barristers when I felt that there were points that could be questioned.
I attended several meetings with the legal team which included two Barristers along with two expert witnesses for each side. My expertise is the software (Mapper), the other expert was advising on the hardware used.