Converting Net Express Projects to Visual Studio Projects

Enterprise Developer includes a Net Express Project Import wizard that enables you to import existing Net Express projects into Visual Studio and convert them to Visual Studio projects.

The wizard analyzes the Net Express project file, its configuration settings and dependencies, and creates one or more Visual Studio native or native mainframe projects based on this information. It then imports the existing source code into the new projects, and sets the project and file properties that were used in the original Net Express project. The wizard also produces a detailed conversion report.

The Net Express Project Import wizard takes the following information from the Net Express project:
  • file dependencies and all output file types produced by the project
  • the type of application that is being built, such as a console application or a library
  • the build configurations such as Generic Debug Build and Generic Release Build
  • the paths for copybooks that are not in known locations such as the solution folder tree, links from the solution, and the cpylib folder in the installation
  • the Compiler directives and build settings
  • how the application starts, such as any command line arguments
Note: If you have any questions or comments about converting Net Express projects or about upgrading to Enterprise Developer in general, please use the Micro Focus Community pages ( to get in touch with us and other Enterprise Developer users.

The structure of a Net Express project is similar to that of a Visual Studio solution, where the solution represents a whole application. A solution can contain multiple projects, each one producing a single or multiple output files. The final application can then contain a mixture of .exe, .dll, .int and .gnt files.

  • Depending on the output files they produced in the available configurations (for example, Generic Debug Build, Generic Release Build, or a custom build type), Net Express projects convert to different Visual Studio project types as shown below:
    Files created by the Net Express project Visual Studio project type after the conversion
    A single output file A single Visual Studio project
    A mixture of executable files - .exe and .dll files Multiple Visual Studio projects in the same solution, each of which produces a single executable – an .exe or a .dll file.
    .int or .gnt files only A multi-output INT/GNT project that contains the programs which compiled to .int or .gnt. The project produces a single .int or .gnt file, equivalent to the output of the original Net Express project.
    Note: .gnt files that were part of the Net Express cannot be used in Enterprise Developer and are ignored.
    .lbr files only For each .lbr in the Net Express project, the wizard creates a corresponding INT/GNT project that compiles to a single .lbr file.
    Note: The .lbr files produced by Enterprise Developer can only contain COBOL programs and cannot include data files.

    You can copy any data files that are part of the project to the output folder but they will exist as separate files and will not be packaged in the .lbr. You can use the Copy To Output Directory property in the data file properties to configure this.

    A combination of different output file types (.int, .gnt, .lbr, .exe or .dll) Multiple projects in the Visual Studio solution, each of which produces output files as detailed above.
    A project that does not contain any executable targets (exe, lib or dll) A project that holds the application-level dependencies so they get copied into the main output directory.
  • Copybook paths are determined by how the Visual Studio project is structured and by what dependency each file has. If a file depends on another file in a different folder, that folder is added to the copybook paths.
  • The Compiler directives are taken from the Net Express project and are set by enabling options in the Visual Studio project and file properties for the Debug, Release or any other custom configurations. Any directives that do not have corresponding options in the project or file properties are added to the Additional Directives field in the project or file properties.

For more on upgrading Net Express applications to Enterprise Developer, see Upgrading to Enterprise Developer.