Import multiple Net Express projects into a single solution

We are JUST starting the process of migrating from Net Express 5.1 to VCVS 2.2.2 for 2013.  Our native application originated as batch programs on Unisys 2200.  It consists of 62 unique Net Express projects, each one representing an original batch job.  Each project produces a single .exe that serves as the job controller (more or less replacing the batch job deck) that calls one or more individual batch programs built one-for-one as .dlls (a total of 145 unique .dlls).  Some batch programs (.dlls) are in more than one project.

We are assuming, based on the product documentation we've read, that our goal should be one solution (the batch application) with each of the .exes and .dlls as its own separate project?

We are also assuming that since our developer workstations and target servers are all 64-bit this should be the target platform?

Our problem, after trying various combinations of Net Express Import Wizard, Project From Existing Code and Add COBOL Items, is that we can't seem to get create a solution that is consistent both in terms of folder hierarchy for projects (some are in a project sub-folder and others are "loose" in the solution folder) and target platforms (can be set to 64-bit and others can't)?

Anybody with a step-by-step process that might help us out?

  • Verified Answer

    The Net Express import wizard is a bit limiting as it is really only meant to bring current Net Express projects quickly over to the Visual COBOL product while retaining the original structure of the Net Express project. Net Express projects typically have a project folder containing all source code for all build types that appear in the build window. In Net Express you can mix the build output types so you can have both .EXE's and .DLLs within the same project.

    In Visual COBOL each project can have only a single build type, either .EXE or .DLL. The default in Visual COBOL is to generate a single output file for all source files that are within that project. So if you have multiple COBOL sources within the project then they will all be compiled and linked into a single .EXE or single .DLL with the default name being that of the project name.

    You can also create what is known as a multiple output project by checking the option on the Application tab of the property page. This will cause each program within the project to be generated as its own .EXE or .DLL. This can only be used if you are not linking multiple programs together within the same output.

    As mentioned above, when you convert a NX project to VC using the NX import wizard the project structure will be that of a NX project and not a default Visual Studio project. You should only use the NX import Wizard if you do not intend on extending your solutions with additional projects and/or programs as things can get confusing as you have seen. In fact it is currently impossible to create a VC project solution manually that has the same structure as the one created by the NX Import Wizard.

    If you want full control over your project structures then I would recommend that you manually create a new Visual COBOL project/solution (check the box on project creation to add a folder for the solution) and then add your existing source programs by right-clicking the project name and selecting Add Existing Files. You can select a group of source files and bring them in all at once. When you add files in this manner the default is to make a copy of the file and place it in the project folder. Each project will have its own output folder into which the .EXE or .DLL will be generated but you can modify the output folder under Project Properties-->COBOL tab so that they all point to a common location so that all output files will be in the same directory.

    Of course when you are manually creating the solutions/projects in this manner you will have to also add any directives that you were using in Net Express to the Project Properties-->COBOL tab or add them in a cobol.dir file and point to this using the USE"cobol.dir" file.

    The VC projects .cblproj and solution files .sln are really only xml based text files and it is possible to edit these directly on order to add programs, change folder names, etc, but it does take a good knowledge of their format to do so.

    If you require additional help with setting up your projects then please open up a support incident with Customer Care and we will walk you through the process.