COBOL for .NET: The more things change the more they stay the same


Welcome to the COBOL Corner of the C#Corner! My name is Rick Malek and if you'll notice from other articles in this area, I'm the author of numerous articles dealing with COBOL and .NET. It's been a while since I've written any new articles and as the old saying goes, "The more things stay the same, the more they change!" A lot has happened since I wrote those original articles in 2002; the distributed COBOL vendor marketplace has changed, there is a new .NET COBOL compiler available and finally, the changes. Let's take a minute and discuss each of these.

Distributed COBOL Marketplace

Do any of these names sound familiar: Liant, RM/COBOL, AccuCOBOL, Fujitsu, Micro Focus? This was the landscape for distributed COBOL when the original articles were written. Sure there were others but these were the names everyone who dealt with COBOL knew about. Of that original list here is what happened:

  1. Liant: Bought by Micro Focus
  2. RM/COBOL: Bought by Micro Focus
  3. AccuCOBOL: Bought by Micro Focus
  4. Fujitsu: Still available, but with some changes as it relates to mainframe modernization
  5. Micro Focus: Expanding
Micro Focus has expanded its presence not only in the COBOL market space, but in a significant number of areas that are important to, or should be important to, anyone considering application development. Notice I didn't say 'COBOL development', I said 'application development'. Micro Focus used to be known as 'the COBOL company' by many. Since becoming a publicly traded company though they have expanded their skills and knowledge base to include a great deal of the application development life cycle as it relates to not only the mainframe, but UNIX, Linux and Windows development for the Enterprise. Their toolset is rich with products that enable application understanding, (thanks to the recent purchase of Relativity), and can assist in numerous endeavors related to both COBOL and non-COBOL application environments. Together with a rich and robust partner ecosystem, Micro Focus can deliver the solution to solve just about any development issue that may arise.

.NET Compiler

Initially the sole domain of Fujitsu, Micro Focus has released a COBOL compiler for the .NET environment. Although Fujitsu released a .NET COBOL compiler earlier than Micro Focus, , Micro Focus has provided comparable functionality while adhering to the COBOL standards for object orientation. They have also maintained their ability to provide for a broader compatibility of COBOL language versions, thus reducing the requirement to modify the original source code and introduce potential issues. Additionally Micro Focus will be releasing and updated version of Studio for .NET in the coming months with capabilities to process CICS and JCL in a managed environment.
The changes


In May of 2008 Microsoft and Micro Focus signed a strategic agreement to strengthen and expand the ties between the two companies. The agreement provides Micro Focus with a level of expertise in the .NET arena as well as insight into the direction Microsoft is proceeding to better be able to adapt to technological changes. Microsoft on the other hand gains access to an area in which it is looking to expand its reach via a company who is the leader in that area, enterprise development.

When the original articles were written I was a Solutions Engineer with Fujitsu Software. Since that time I have worked for Microsoft as a Senior Consultant and Architect in Consulting Services. I am now back at Micro Focus where I started my career in mainframe modernization as a Solutions Engineer specializing in modernization to the .NET environment and integration of COBOL. Over the course of the next several months the articles that were originally written utilizing the Fujitsu NetCOBOL for .NET compiler and Visual Studio 2005 will be redone utilizing the Micro Focus Studio for .NET compiler, version 5.1 and Visual Studio 2008. All the previous articles will be redone. If there is a topic you are interested about but it has not been done please send me an email with your request. As always I encourage you to download the samples, try them in your environment and utilize them as templates for your requirements. Build upon them and expand them to suit your needs. Please, write back and let us know if you have any issues, questions or concerns. I would also encourage you to locate and join a Micro Focus User Group, or MUG, in your area. MUGs are a great way to not only learn about new technology and techniques, but also meet others in your area who are working on the same issues or tasks you are. And if there isn't a MUG in your area, contact Micro Focus. They'll help you start one!
Happy Coding!