Cobol preps for a much-needed celebrity makeover with tools from Acucorp and Micro Focus
Solutions help move cumbersome yet mission-critical Cobol from the mainframe to modern platforms
The toolkit facilitated deployment to the included development Application Server and Enterprise Server, used for running real-time Cobol Web services and J2EE integration. This deployment provided the necessary WSDL (or EJB, COM, etc.) files and deployed the requisite Cobol and data files directly. The overall experience was one of clear expediency.
I found Acucorp’s installation, although not problematic, somewhat more tedious. The Extend 6 suite is sold as separate components, including the ACUCOBOL-GT development system and compiler, the AcuBench IDE, and Acu-ODBC, with each requiring a separate license and, in the case of the run times, separate installation for each platform and OS.
In addition, Acucorp’s interface mapping solution is not part of the Extend 6 product line. Rather, it is provided as separate components from Transoft, a third-party developer of application transformation and modernization tools.
The Transoft solution required the installation of a different development environment, component broker adaptors, and licensing. In fairness, Acucorp’s modularity does support a far broader range of development platform and run-time environments than Micro Focus’ Windows-only development.
Although Transoft handled Java and COM components well, there is minimal support for .Net, such as assembly reflection, and the solution continues to rely on COM wrappers. Acucorp indicated it is working on improving .Net support in the future, although the company is still assessing the need for MSIL support.
When it came time to test my work in AcuBench, good facilities and the expected cadre of tools enabled debugging in Cobol. I felt the testing could have benefited from some better visual cues, but that was only because I was using it next to Visual Studio.
Running the Micro Focus debugger from within Visual Studio, I enjoyed seamlessly stepping through my entire application — regardless of the underlying language to which calls were being made. The opportunity will absolutely speed testing and improve integration.
Micro Focus also includes a test coverage feature that enables you to document the code segments that have been accessed during testing, a boon to quality assurance efforts.
Both packages offer good RDBMS accessibility and the ability to prototype and precompile SQL. The OpenESQL Assistant in Micro Focus provides a wizard-based approach for building, testing, and inserting SQL statements into code. And I was able to call, create, and modify ADO.Net objects from directly within Cobol.
The Extend suite offers a number of additional products for managing SQL, DBMS, and making its Vision file system available to the network.
Both products also performed well when it came to mapping XML schemas to Cobol records. Net Express offers both SAX (Simple API for XML)- and DOM-style parsing, and can directly perform input-output operations on XML documents, circumventing the Cobol file system.
In this version, Extend also has added a new XML run-time library comparable to Net Express that affords reading and parsing of XML files. It surpasses capabilities of the previous AcuXML.