AMC Tech Tips: What’s New in the Visual COBOL and Enterprise Developer 6.0 IDE

Micro Focus Frequent Contributor
Micro Focus Frequent Contributor
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We’re about to release version 6.0 of Visual COBOL and Enterprise Developer, so I’d like to show you some of the new features we’ve added into the Visual Studio and Eclipse IDEs.

The headlines are COBOL Refactoring and Container support. There’s also an exciting new PCT View in Visual Studio and Maven support for JVM COBOL in Eclipse, as well as many other enhancements.

I’ll start with the features that are supported in both IDEs (screenshots are Eclipse), then move on to Visual Studio only, then Eclipse only features. Everything is supported in the Visual COBOL & Enterprise Developer products unless stated otherwise.

COBOL Refactoring

A major application modernization requirement we’ve been working on supports taking segments of code and making them available as isolated functions. This is often referred to as Refactoring, or Code Slicing.

In this release, we’ve added the Create Program… and Extract to… features to the COBOL Refactoring Toolset. The developer can select these from the COBOL editor context menu.


Create Program…

Three new options have been added which allow the developer to extract logic from COBOL code and copy it to a new program.

The newly generated program is standalone with input parameters, output parameters and a linkage section, so it can be called from other programs.

Note that all of the Create Program… options leave the original program unchanged.

Extract to…

These options allow the developer to extract logic from COBOL code and move it to a new program or section or copybook. The original program is then automatically refactored to use the code in its new format.

IDE Support for Containers

The developer can now create a Dockerfile for a COBOL project, build, debug and run a COBOL application in a container, all from the IDE. The Eclipse IDE supports PL/I in addition to COBOL.

Please see Gen’s blog on Container Support in Visual Studio IDE for more information.

COBOL Editor - IntelliSense

IntelliSense has been added for the new COBOL language features – declare and constant.


 Visual Studio IDE only features

Now on to the features which are specific to the Visual Studio products.

CICS Table Support – PCT View (Enterprise Developer only)

The PCT (Program Control Table) is a CICS Resource, which contains a definition for each transaction that can be run from the (MSS) Mainframe SubSystem application. In Enterprise Developer, the developer can currently access the CICS Resources from the Enterprise Server Administration page available from Server Explorer.

We’re introducing CICS Resource support for developers, starting with a Program Control Table (PCT) View as a Technical Preview, which offers a lightweight developer view of PCTs.



The Show CICS Resources option is available from Server Explorer when there is an open MSS Project with an associated region running. Server Explorer > Micro Focus Servers > <region name> context menu.

COBOL Editor – CodeLens support (VS2019 only)

CodeLens is a Visual Studio editor feature that provides helpful context information in the editor view with relevant actions available. We’ve added two CodeLenses for COBOL.

References CodeLens

The reference count CodeLens is shown for sections, paragraphs and classes. The developer can click this to see more information and easily navigate to referenced code.


MFUnit Test  Result CodeLens

A Codelens is displayed above each test case in the editor. The developer can select this to see the relevant actions, which can be performed without having to open the Micro Focus Unit Testing toolbar.


COBOL Editor -  END delimiter tooltip

The developer can hover over the end delimiter and a tooltip is displayed showing the start of the statement. This is particularly useful for large code blocks or messy code.


COBOL Editor - Force Upper Case

This enhancement was added following a customer request – the customer had moved from a predecessor product (Micro Focus Mainframe Express), which supported this feature and the customer made wide use of it.

The developer can switch this on from the COBOL toolbar. Then any code inserted or pasted into the editor, including snippets, is forced to upper case.


Eclipse IDE only features

The following features are specific to the Eclipse products.

Maven support for JVM COBOL

Apache Maven is a project management and build tool, widely used by Eclipse java developers. Support has been added to Eclipse for building JVM COBOL projects, which enables the developer to incorporate the building of their JVM COBOL projects into their Maven life-cycle, making it easier to integrate COBOL and java projects.


COBOL Editor – Dark Theme

The developer can switch on dark theme by selecting Window > Preferences > General > Appearance > Theme : Dark


COBOL Editor – collapsible regions

Collapsible regions support has been added for if, evaluate and perform statements. The developer can just click on the +/- on the left-hand side of the editor window to expand and collapse code blocks.

COBOL Editor - copybook tooltip

If the developer hovers over a copybook line in the editor, a tooltip is displayed showing the location of the copybook.


Integrated Online Help

Integrated online help support has been added to the Eclipse IDE. The developer can request help by pressing F1 in the IDE and the Micro Focus SupportLine help is opened in a browser. The developer can configure the IDE to show local help.

Note: This support was added to Visual Studio IDE in an earlier release.

Don't miss the Visual COBOL launch Webinar on June 24 (or on-Demand after that date) by clicking on the image directly below:



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