The FaultFinder tool appears to be missing from Visual COBOL



Under Visual COBOL, the tool named FaultFinder appears to be absent.


The FaultFinder tool, which had been available in Server Express and Net Express, has been removed from Visual COBOL on both Windows and Linux/UNIX.  Here is a documentation link mentioning this (scroll down to "Diagnostic tools"):

Net Express and Server Express, and also Visual COBOL, are sold in two forms of product that might be called the "development" product and the "runtime" product. The chart below shows product names:

"Development" Product Name "Runtime" Product Name
Net Express

Server for COBOL for Net Express, or Application Server for Net Express

Server Express

Server for COBOL for Server Express, or Application Server for Server Express

Visual COBOL COBOL Server


A "development" product includes the compiler and other development tools and also the COBOL runtime system, while a "runtime" product does not include the compiler; it includes only the COBOL runtime system. Think of the "runtime" product as a sub-set of the "development" product.

The "runtime" product is meant to be installed on production machines where COBOL will run, but where COBOL should not be compiled. System administrators may want to prevent people from compiling COBOL on production machines (they may want to make sure COBOL can be compiled only on development machines).  By installing the "runtime" product, a person can be assured the compiler is not present.  This is the main reason Micro Focus distributes a separate "runtime" product.

In the old Net Express and Server Express, the "runtime" product did not include the debugger, so on production machines there was no debugging tool. To debug an application on a production machine, a person would have to install the "development" product to make the debugger available. This is why FaultFinder was originally created: FaultFinder provided at least some kind of debugging tool for production machines.

In Visual COBOL (VC), the debugger is included in the "runtime" product. VC COBOL Server for Linux/UNIX includes the character-mode Animator, so a person can use Animator on Linux/UNIX production machines having only the "runtime" product.  Also, in VC for Eclipse (Windows), and VC for Visual Studio (Windows), a person can use Remote Debugging.   The COBOL debugger in Eclipse, or the COBOL debugger in Visual Studio,  can remotely attach to and debug application code running on production machines. FaultFinder was not brought forward into Visual COBOL because production machines can now be debugged without FaultFinder.

Here is a link to documentation for Debugging Using a Remote Machine:

For Native COBOL applications, another alternative is Debugging Using a Core Dump. This is similar to FaultFinder, because it saves the state of an application when the application crashes (as FaultFinder did).  You can use the core dump file to debug productions problems.  You can see exactly where in the source code the error occurred, and examine the values of variables and expressions and the contents of memory, as they were at the moment the error occurred:

Another alternative diagnostic tool to replace FaultFinder is the Consolidated Tracing Facility:

Here is a link to a documentation page named Debugging Scenarios.  Of particular interest are these sections:

  • Debugging Using a Live Recording
  • Debugging Using a Remote Machine
  • Debugging Mixed Language Applications
  • Debugging Applications and Services on Enterprise Server
  • Debugging Enterprise Server Services and Applications Using a Live Recording
  • Debugging with Character Animator

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