Here are some tips and tricks on debugging COBOL applications in the Visual Studio IDE:
- Add a Watch
- Right-click a variable in the editor and choose
- Attach to a Running Process
To attach to a running process and debug.
- Attach to a 64-bit Running Process
To attach to a 64-bit running process and debug.
- Autos Window
- Displays the variables used in the current and in the previous statements and enables you to change their values or add watches
to them. To display the window, click
Debug > Windows > Autos.
For variables in a copybook that are modified by COPY… REPLACING statements in your code, the Autos window displays all values
defined in the source code.
When there are multiple COBOL programs in your project that perform a COPY… REPLACING in a copybook, the Autos window only
uses the replacing values found in the first COBOL program.
- Double-click in the left margin of editor next the a line of code, or position the cursor on the line and press
F9. You can also choose
Debug > Toggle Breakpoint or choose
Breakpoint > Insert Breakpoint from the editor context menu.
- Note: Tracepoints are supported only when debugging managed code.
- Breakpoints Window
- Displays a list of all breakpoints and tracepoints set in the code. Double-click on a breakpoint in the window to position
the cursor on the line for which it has been added.
- Break on Data Change
- Works with COBOL watchpoints. When the value of a data item on which a watchpoint has been set changes or a condition applied
to the watchpoint has been met, the debugger breaks the execution of the program and highlights the line after the data change.
The IDE opens the
COBOL Watchpoints window and highlights the data item that was changed in it. Works for native code only.
- COBOL Source Information
- COBOL Source Information (CSI) provides a quick and easy way of providing you with information about your program when you
are working on it. You enter a query in
the CSI query control and CSI returns the results of the query in the
Micro Focus Code Analysis window.
- COBOL Visualizer
- The COBOL visualizer is a window in Visual Studio that you can use while debugging. It enables you to view and edit COBOL
data in either hexadecimal format or as a text.
- COBOL Watchpoint-Setting
Note: COBOL watchpoints are supported in native COBOL only.
To add a watchpoint from the editor, right-click a data item and select
Add COBOL Watchpoint. Alternatively, you can add watchpoints from the
Watchpoints (Native COBOL) window. To disable or remove the watchpoints, choose
Debug > COBOL Watchpoints > Disable/Delete All Watchpoints.
- DataTips and Pin To Source
- Provide information about the variables in the source code. To display the DataTip for a variable, you can hover it. This
works only in break mode when the execution stops and with variables that are used at run time.
If you need to keep the DataTip for a variable open, right-click on the variable in the code and choose
Pin To Source.
- Debug Tooltip for Subscripted OCCURS Items
- You can configure the debug tooltip for subscripted OCCURS items to either display the elements of arrays or to display the
value of the current expression. To do this, right-click in the editor, click
COBOL Debug Tooltip Style and either enable or disable
Show COBOL OCCURS or reference modification value. Use the following default key sequence to change the style of the tooltip in the editor - ALT+T, T.
- Debugging standalone COBOL files
- This only applies to native COBOL. You can debug standalone COBOL files in the IDE without a project as follows:
- Ensure the file has been compiled - see
To compile individual files.
- Check and specify any debug options as required. You can do this in the following two places:
- For standalone files - in the file properties window (accessed using
F4) and the options in the
- In the
Debugging Options dialog box, which starts immediately after you start debugging.
You can specify any command line arguments, the start program and the working directory.
Debug > Step into.
If configured in the IDE options (Tools > Options > Micro Focus > Standalone Editing > General), this opens the
Debugging Options dialog box. Specify your preferences and click
The IDE enters in debug mode.
- Stet through the code in the usual way.
If you need to make changes to the code to fix problems, you must recompile before you start debugging again.
The recommended way to work is to include all source files in a project because this enables full support for the IDE editing,
compiling and debugging features. There is limited support in the IDE for standalone files, such that are not part of a project
Visual COBOL provides a path to create projects for these files in order to enable full editor, build and debug functionality. To create
a project from a standalone file, right-click in the editor and click
Create COBOL Project.
- Find All References
- In the editor, right-click a COBOL data item, a section or a paragraph name in the code and select
Find All References. A list of all places in the solution that contain the reference to the item is displayed in the
Find Symbol Results window. Double-clicking on an item in the list positions the cursor on the line of code that includes the element.
- Find Symbol Results Window
- To display the window, click
View > Find Results > Find Symbols Results. Displays the results of
Find All References command in the editor. Double-click an item in the list to position the cursor on the line that includes the referenced item.
Go To Location
- The text field on the COBOL toolbar (click
Tools > Customize > Toolbars and click
COBOL, if this is hidden) enables you to locate the definition of a variable or an expression. Type a variable name or an expression
in the field, then either click
Edit > Go To Location or click
(Enter a COBOL Term and Go To Definition) in the COBOL toolbar. This is equivalent to pointing to the variable in the editor and pressing
To return to where you were in the code, click
- Just-In-Time Debugging
Enables just-in-time debugging for when an application causes an error. To enable Just-In-Time Debugging for native COBOL
Tools > Options > Debugging > Just-In-Time Debugging. Check
Micro Focus Native Debugger. Works with native code only.
- Memory Window
- Allows you to see the contents of memory for a given address. This can be a pointer reference, the address of data-item or
an integer value. To display the window, click
Debug > Windows > Memory > Memory
n. Works for native COBOL only.
- Peek Definition
- Right-click on a data item in the editor and click
Peek Definition. Opens a small window, embedded in the editor, showing the data item definition.
You can edit the code in the embedded window. You can also open several peek definition windows and use the breadcrumbs navigation
to switch between them.
- Program Breakpoints
Note: Program breakpoints are supported in native COBOL only, and are not supported with nested programs.
You can break into a program whenever it or one of its entry points is called.
- Right-click in the code in the editor, and click
Add COBOL Program Breakpoint.
- Quick Browse
- The Quick Browse dialog box (click
in the COBOL toolbar to open it), part of the COBOL Source Information (CSI) functionality, enables you to run CSI queries
and returns the results of the queries in the Output window's COBOL Source Information tab.
- Remote Debugging
- You can debug a process running on a remote system if the machines are connected using TCP/IP. See
- Ensure that the local and remote systems are networked using TCP/IP. To connect to the remote machine and debug a program,
projectProperties and go to the
Debug tab. Check
Enable remote machine and fill in the name or the IP address of the remote machine and the TCP port number.
- Run To Cursor
- Right-click a line of code in the editor and select
Run To Cursor. This starts a debugging session and executes the code till the line on which you positioned the cursor.
- Shortened names in the debug tooltip
- You can specify whether the debug tooltips display the fully qualified data names (such as
c of b of a) or shortened names (simply
c). To change your preference from the editor, click
COBOL Debug Tooltip Style and either enable or disable
Show qualified names for data items.
- Start Debugging
Debug > Start Debugging or, alternatively, press
F5 starts debugging and runs the application until a breakpoint or an error occurs.
F11 starts debugging and breaks on the first statement that can be debugged.
- Stop Debugging
Debug > Stop Debugging. You can also click
- Threads Window
- Shows all threads that are running in the process. To display the window, choose
Debug > Windows > Threads.
- Tracepoints are conditional breakpoints. When the debugger hits a tracepoint, it performs an action instead of or before stopping
the execution. To set a tracepoint, click on the line of code where you need to set one and choose
Debug > Toggle Tracepoint or from the context menu choose
Breakpoint > Insert Tracepoint and specify the action to perform. Tracepoints are supported only when debugging managed code.
- Variable Windows
- Include windows, such as for example
Watch, for monitoring and editing values and expressions.
- Watch Window
- Enables you to watch the values of variables and expressions. To open the window, click
Debug > Windows > Watch > Watch
n while debugging. To change the format of displaying the values from decimal to hexadecimal, right-lick in the window, and
To change the format of display of the values on individual rows in the Watch window, click a row, press
F2, and type:
Variable,x to always display the values in hexadecimal format;
Variable,d to always display the values of variables in decimal format, and of strings - as text.
- Watchpoints (Native COBOL) Window
- Enables you to add data items as watchpoints, and monitor their values in a decimal or hexadecimal display. To open the window,
Debug > Windows > COBOL Watchpoints.