Tool offloads Cobol date code work to workstations

TouchPoint feature lets users create code fragments for testing.

Micro Focus Inc. has developed a Cobol maintenance suite for workstations that is aimed
at agencies overwhelmed by mainframe maintenance backlogs.

Some early users of the Mainframe Express suite have boosted their code modification
and testing productivity as much as 50 percent, said officials of the Mountain View,
Calif., company.

Mainframe Express, priced from $3,200 to $20,000 for Unix and Microsoft Windows NT, can
come close to offloading complete mainframe files, said Simon Peel, vice president of
product solutions.

“Several technologies have come together at just at the right time to help us do
this,” Peel said, citing advances in data communications that have made workstation
access to mainframes much easier.

The graphical tool suite is intended for programmers familiar with Cobol and Cobol
subsystems such as IMS, DB2, CICS and JCL.

“It looks like a regular Windows application, but it has VMS or CICS
macros—all the types of things that mainframers would normally see and be familiar
with,” Peel said.

The suite combines code management, data access tools and team programming
coordination. It has an editor, a compiler and a debugger as well as test tools for unit
and integration testing on a workstation.

Micro Focus Revolve, a code analysis and testing tool, completes the maintenance suite.

Separate test modules can perform specific date-code tests required for year 2000
maintenance, Peel said.

Programmers use the suite’s TouchPoint feature to isolate the lines of code they
have changed and to make code fragments they can then test iteratively using different

Instead of testing a 10,000-line program, they can test only the 10 lines they have
changed, Peel said.

With few exceptions, Peel said, mainframe maintenance tools have evolved little in 20

Programmers using older tools would need nearly two dozen steps to change a mainframe
Cobol program, he said, whereas the same change takes about six steps in the Mainframe
Express suite.

“You bring pieces of the code down and leave the copy books up on the
mainframe,” he said.

Contact Micro Focus at 650-938-3700.


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