To import a Net Express project into the Visual Studio IDE

  1. Ensure that your Net Express project and all relevant files are available and in the same location.
  2. If your Net Express project includes files with extensions that are not traditionally associated with COBOL, ensure that Visual Studio recognizes them as COBOL programs or copybooks. See To associate file extensions with COBOL and To specify that a file extension is a copybook for instructions.
  3. Start the Net Express Project Import wizard in one of the following ways:
    1. In Windows Explorer, locate and double-click the Net Express project (.app) file.

      This starts Visual Studio and invokes the wizard, loading the full path to the file in the Net Express project file field on the Welcome page of the wizard.

    2. In Visual Studio, click File > New > Import Net Express Project. Click Browse to navigate to and select the Net Express project file, .app, then click Open to load the file in the wizard.
    Note: You can click Finish on any page of the wizard to convert the Net Express project to the relevant Visual Studio projects with the default settings which you can review and change from the project properties.
  4. Click Next.

    On the Solution configuration page of the wizard, you can specify a name and location for a Visual Studio solution that will hold the application sources. You can choose either one of the following options:

    • Overwrite existing Visual Studio project files
    • Include copybooks in project - disabled by default. Copybooks do not need to be included in the project in order for it to build and adding copybooks to the projects increases the project size. When building a project, Visual Studio searches for copybooks in the source file directory and then on the copybook paths.
    • Optimize Visual Studio project creation - check this for the wizard to reduce the number of projects created.
  5. Click Next.

    This opens the Build Configuration page of the wizard that shows the configurations that were used in the Net Express project and the Visual Studio projects to be created with their build configurations and project types.

  6. Check all the Net Express build types you want to import.
  7. Use the list box next to Visual Studio build configuration to view which projects will be created in the different configurations and, optionally, change their names.
  8. Click Next.

    This opens the Visual Studio project settings and Compiler directives page that shows the project settings that have been found in the Net Express project and that will be used on the new Visual Studio projects. If necessary, make any required changes here. You can also access the project and file properties after the projects have been created and modify them after the import has finished.

  9. Click Finish to start the import process.

    The wizard creates a Visual Studio solution with one or more projects and displays an Import Summary page.

  10. Check the details on the Import Summary page to ensure that the Net Express project was imported successfully. You can:
    • Click Configuration Manager to review and modify the build configuration of the Visual Studio projects.
    • Click solution folder to view a detailed import report saved in a ImportReport.txt file in the directory of the solution. The file is also added to the new Visual Solution and you can access it from within the IDE from Solution Explorer.
  11. Click Close to close the wizard and to review the Visual Studio solution and the projects that were created. You should see:
    • One solution representing your Net Express project
    • One or more native COBOL projects within the solution, where each project builds output files of the same output file type
    • Any files that were in the original project, such as COBOL source files and copybooks. These are linked to the projects from their original location.
  12. Right-click each project in Solution Explorer and click Properties to view the properties that have been set.

    Notice the following tabbed pages:

    • Application - the properties on this page define the type of application to build, such as a Windows or a console application, a link library or an application that produces .int and .gnt files.
    • Copybook Paths - the paths for copybooks that aren't in known locations, which are the solution folder tree, links from the solution, and the cpylib folder in the Visual COBOL installation
    • COBOL - shows the directives and build settings that were in the original Net Express project
    • Debug - these properties define how the application starts, including details such as any command line arguments
  13. You can also check the individual file properties, by right-clicking a COBOL source file in Solution Explorer and clicking Properties.