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Regional Occupational Program Enrollment & Attendance System (ROP3)

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Project StickleBack This system was designed to maintain the student and attendance records of a state-funded vocational education program for the office of a county superintendent of schools in California, US.

Donated to Project Stickleback, 2013-05-19.
The complete and original Cobol sourceText and a demo database are available in the downloads area for community members. You're invited to register, it is free. Read more for a extensive description.

The system was originally designed in 1990 to run on Unisys A Series computer systems, using the DMSII database management system and the COMS transaction manager. It is still capable of running today on the current models of that architecture, Unisys ClearPath MCP systems.

The system was originally designed and programmed in COBOL-74, but late in its life it was converted to COBOL-85 as part of a Year-2000 migration. Some libraries and utility programs are written in the Unisys Extended Algol family of languages (ALGOL, DCALGOL, DMALGOL).

Regional Occupational Programs are somewhat unusual in that their state funding is based substantially on actual time that students spend in classes, labs, and workshops. While most public school attendance is recorded on a daily basis (the student is present for the day or not), ROP attendance was recorded in five minute increments. The ROP3 system had to manage this fine-grained attendance data and provide an efficient means to collect it and enter it into the database.

ROP3 had a number of attendance data entry mechanisms, but the bulk of the student registration and attendance data was collected on optical mark recognition (OMR) forms, sometimes called "bubble sheets".
Initially, these forms were scanned in batch mode by a high-speed scanner in the school agency's data center, but later a couple of PC-based scanning systems were developed in MS-DOS Pascal and Microsoft Visual Basic. These satellite systems used National Computer Systems (NCS) Opscan 5 scanners, and could be located remotely from the data center. The software for these PC-based systems is not included here.

ROP3 ran at three ROP agencies through the 1990s, and was finally decommissioned in late 1999 as all three agencies decided to move to other systems. At this writing, the Regional Occupational Program is in the process of being decommissioned at the state level, so this system is now completely obsolete.

DMSII is not a relational database. It belongs to the networked/hierarchical family of database management systems. Its schema is specified by means of a language called DASDL, which is compiled into a canonical format called the DESCRIPTION file. The DESCRIPTION file is used to generate some software libraries tailored to the schema, and is used by the compilers to import data item and record structure information into the program. As a result, object programs are bound to the schema, and changes to the schema can generate a requirement that programs using the affected structures in the database be recompiled.

Documentation for the current Unisys MCP systems is publicly available from the Unisys support web site. Although the ROP3 system has not been actively maintained for over 12 years, documentation for the current Unisys systems is still relevant to ROP3. See:


Under "ClearPath Servers and Software", click "System Software" and then "ClearPath MCP Software".