Feature Request: Replace Expanded Copybook Viewer with Visual Studio Peek Definition panel

The Expanded Copybook Viewer behaves much like the Peek Definition panel in Visual Studio 2019.

I'm very much missing to be able to close a currently open Copybook by hitting the <ESC> key.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to abandon the proprietary Expanded Copybook Viewer and replace it with the Peek Definition panel, built into Visual Studio 2019? It would solve issues like it behaving different from the Peek Definition panel while semantically being the same utility.

Switching to the Peek Definition panel could reduce programming efforts at Micro Focus, too.

  • Verified Answer

    We first implemented the expanded copybook view in VS2010 which predates the peek definition view by a good three years. Since then, we have built a large collection of tests that are geared around our own implementation, and it potentially could a take long time to rewrite all of that code for a new implementation.

    Nevertheless, we have investigated using peek definition and concluded that there were too many limitations meaning it could not fully replace our existing implementation of copybook expansion. Notably peek definition does support showing multiple levels of text views simultaneously and instead navigates between them with a carousel bar. I think outlining persistence would also be lost as a result.

    So rather than changing the current implementation we are leaning towards providing an alternative mode which uses peek definition instead. This mode is already partially available in 5.0 and can be enabled in the advanced Micro Focus COBOL options under "Enable expanded copybook view". This will disable our expanded copybook view, but we have not yet implemented any peek definition support for copybooks. Peek definition however is supported in the context of peeking definitions of data items and other symbols. So peeking a definition of a data item would open the copybook it was in, inside the peek definition view.

  • Thanks a lot for this deeply interesting insight!

    Kudos! I'm flabbergasted you have this feature implemented so many years, particularly so many years earlier than the Visual Studio team implemented it.

    I think, this is the right time and place to express my general kudos for the Visual COBOL implementation. Until now (and certainly in the near future), I only shared concerns and complaints about the product in the forum. Yet. actually in the course of evaluating the product I often had a situation where I thought: "Wow, this is not just a skimpy piece of software." Very often in the last few weeks I couldn't fail to notice the many years of development, experience and great effort that went into this full-grown product and the documentation.