Major Features

Visual COBOL Development Hub offers the following major features:

Advanced application development using Visual COBOL for Eclipse

This product help describes how to use Visual COBOL Development Hub as a standalone product.

Originally, Visual COBOL Development Hub was designed as the companion of Micro Focus Visual COBOL for Eclipse and offers tight integration with the Eclipse IDE in remote development and debug scenarios. If you have Visual COBOL for Eclipse installed on your local development machine, you can connect to the UNIX or Linux box that has Development Hub installed and take advantage of the advanced edit, compile and debug functionality that the IDE offers:

  • Remote development:
    • Editing programs as standalone files or as part of an Eclipse project. Setting Compiler directives to hold your sources or edit single programs on the remote box take advantage of the advanced COBOL editor in Eclipse
    • Advanced COBOL editor that offers syntax error reporting, smart edit features, Code Assistance suggestions when typing code.
    • Code Analysis features
    • Various views in the IDE optimized to show you all the information which is relevant when editing COBOL sources.
  • Remote debugging:
    • Use the Eclipse debugger to step through both native and managed COBOL code on the remote machine.
    • Breakpoints and watchpoints setting.
    • A dedicated layout (Debug Perspective) of the views in the IDE optimized for debugging showing you the active threads, your all the information which is relevant when editing COBOL sources.


Note: This facility only supports native COBOL code.

Provides enhanced debugging support for all executable file formats, and for mixed-language applications, multi-threaded applications, and other active COBOL processes.

Application Configuration System

The Application Configuration System enables programs to use a standard configuration technique to control their behavior. This program is extensively used by Visual COBOL Development Hub itself and enables you to configure many of the tools described here.

Class Library

The Class Library is a set of predefined objects which you can use as a foundation for building your own applications using object-oriented programming.

Client/Server Binding

Note: This feature is available if you install the Compatibility AddPack for Visual COBOL.

Client/Server Binding is a simple and effective way to connect a client to a server. You can create distributed applications without having to write any communications code.

COBOL Compiler

Provides full support of many COBOL dialects, and can produce portable intermediate code, optimized generated code, and native object code that can be linked to produce system executables or ultra-efficient callable shared objects.

COBOL System Library Routines

The COBOL system library routines can be called directly from your program, providing many operations not available in the COBOL language itself.

There are some additional routines as well that provide features needed for cross-system compatibility, such as generic screen attributes.

COBOL Source Information

The COBOL Source Information (CSI) functions let you perform a static analysis of your program source. The information provided includes extensive information about data items, copyfiles, sections and paragraphs in your program. These functions allow you to find your way around your source very quickly and are particularly useful for maintenance of existing programs. This information is available from within the Animator.

Data File Tools

Micro Focus Data File Tools is a standalone text editor in which to create and edit data files for use in your COBOL testing environment. The files you create can belong to a Fileshare server or reside locally on your machine. You can also open existing data sets within your Enterprise Server regions, for editing.

The DFCONV utility is also included. This is also known as the Data File Converter and is used for converting data files. The utility provides a batch and called program interface to enable conversion of file formats, organizations and data formats and reorganization of indexed files using data file conversion profiles.

Data File Tools comprises two editors, producing two different types of file. Use the files produced by the two editors, within the Data File Editor, to produce a rich data editing experience.

Database support

Includes SQL support software that provides seamless integration with a number of other vendors' database systems.

DBCS Transparency Support

DBCS Transparency is a level of DBCS support that supports creating native language applications using DBCS code sets. You can use it under system locales such as, for example, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Korean provided you have them on your system. It enables you to use single- and double-byte character strings, using tools such as Animator and Editor to create and maintain application programs that support your native language.

Demonstration programs

A number of demonstration programs are provided to supplement the documentation of certain components and to demonstrate features in Visual COBOL Development Hub. By default, the demonstrations are installed in /opt/microfocus/VisualCOBOL/demo/.

Device Handling and Terminfo Support

Device Handling and Terminfo Support enables you to use UNIX devices with the run-time system and the run-time support modules.

Dialog System Character Mode

Note: This feature is available if you install the Compatibility AddPack for Visual COBOL.

Dialog System creates character-based user interfaces for your COBOL applications. All handling of the interface is done for you, leaving your program free to concentrate on processing the data.

EBCDIC Support

Visual COBOL Development Hub provides support for EBCDIC data on UNIX systems, making the behavior of applications on your computer highly compatible with that on IBM mainframes. When you use this option, the program stores all data in EBCDIC, and operations such as comparisons and sorts use the EBCDIC collating sequence.

Enterprise Server

Provides an environment in which you deploy services written in COBOL. It listens for requests from client applications to invoke the services. It also provides functions such as scalability, thus saving programming time.

External Filename Mapping Support

Filename mapping enables you to alter the physical filename accessed by your program at run time, assign files to UNIX pipes, assign the index and data files of indexed files to different directories, and assign a file to a printer.

File Handler

The File Handler is a module providing run-time support for COBOL files.

The File Handler includes an interface that enables you to call it from your program using CALL statements. This gives you low-level control over files of all COBOL organizations, so you can write sophisticated file and database handling programs. You can also use it to access COBOL format files from other languages, such as C or Assembler.


Fileshare provides rapid network I/O by compressing I/O requests into packets and sending them across network lines, so that the file processing is done on the server that contains the files. It can also link several files together into a logical database. You can set up a recovery log when accessing that database, providing a high level of data integrity.

Fileshare has transaction logging which allows your user to delay writing changes to files until all the information is complete. You can secure these changes with a COMMIT or cancel them with a ROLLBACK.


The Header-to-COPY utility translates C-language header files into their equivalent COBOL copyfiles. Its main use is to simplify COBOL programming when using system libraries whose basic definitions are provided only for C programs. Examples are interfaces to UNIX TP systems and various relational databases on UNIX.

Key Usage

Because UNIX terminals vary widely, the keys documented in this product help may not be available on your keyboard. Also, most UNIX terminals do not recognise the Alt or Ctrl key when they are pressed, so Visual COBOL Development Hub cannot detect these keys. The UNIX Key Usage Chart lists alternatives for keys that might be undetectable on your specific UNIX terminal, and shows which keys you can configure.

The chart also tells you how to select soft or hard operation for the Alt and Ctrl keys. With soft operation, the Alt or Ctrl key is automatically turned off after the next keystroke. This means that whenever you want a function from the Alt menu you must hold down Alt again to get the Alt menu displayed; and similarly with Ctrl. With hard operation, the Alt and Ctrl keys work in a similar way to the Caps Lock key, in that having been pressed they remain in effect until pressed again.

Integrated Preprocessor Support

The Integrated Preprocessor is an extension to the Compiler. It allows the Compiler to invoke a user-defined language processor to convert non-COBOL syntax to COBOL syntax.

When using Animator you see the original source, as it is before statements are altered by the preprocessor.


Library is a utility that groups individual files into one file, making them easier to administer.

Managed COBOL

Managed COBOL is regular procedural COBOL with extensions to take advantage of the features of the managed frameworks. This includes object-oriented (OO) syntax that allows access to large libraries of functionality you can use in your application, and much more. To take full advantage of Managed COBOL, it is helpful to understand the object-oriented concepts.

Managed COBOL for JVM (also referred to as JVM COBOL) compiles to Java bytecode, and native COBOL compiles to machine code. Both managed and native COBOL can run on any platform when compiled.

For JVM managed code, the management services are provided by JVM. For native COBOL, the management services are available in the operating system, and your code has to call the appropriate services depending on the operating system. The management services enable seamless interoperation of COBOL programs with programs in other JVM languages.

Multi-threading support

You can use Visual COBOL Development Hub to create non-threaded or multi-threaded applications. Multi-threading exploits the power of your processor by enabling applications to run in a true multi-process environment.

You specify whether a program is multi-threaded or single threaded using Compiler directives. Execution support is provided by multi-threaded versions of commands; for example, cobrun_t is the multi-threading equivalent of cobrun.

National Locale Support

National Locale Support (NLS) enables your program to adapt itself automatically at run time to the character set, currency symbol, and editing symbols appropriate to your user's country. It also ensures correct collation and folding of national (for example, accented) characters, and provides library routines to fetch messages in the appropriate national language from a message file.

This facility depends on operating system support.

Object-oriented Programming

The COBOL language in Visual COBOL Development Hub has language extensions to enable you to use object-oriented programming methods in COBOL. Object-oriented programming is explained in the Object-oriented Programming with COBOL book.

You can of course use traditional COBOL programming instead of the object-oriented style if you prefer.


The Profiler gives you detailed statistics on the run-time performance of a COBOL program.

Run-time Configuration Support

Run-time Configuration Support consists of environment variables and tunables in a run-time configuration file, which you can configure to affect certain run-time behavior.

Run-time support programs and libraries

Contain routines supporting advanced features of the COBOL language.

Screen and Keyboard Configuration Tools

The screen and keyboard configuration tools are utilities you can use to configure screen and keyboard handling to your own environment and requirements, or to be compatible with other COBOL systems.

Screen and Keyboard Handler

The Screen and Keyboard Handler, often known as Adis, is a module that provides run-time support for the enhanced (full screen) ACCEPT/DISPLAY verbs and Screen Section features available with this system.

Sort Module

The Sort Module is a stand-alone sort routine which enables you to sort and reorder data files. It is faster than the default COBOL sort mechanism. The interface provides greater flexibility in sorting data and enables you to substitute alternative sort modules.

Windowing Support

Windowing Support consists of COBOL syntax which enables you to draw lines and boxes on the screen and create virtual windows on a physical screen. The syntax also allows underlying displays to be kept and restored. It is compatible with ACUCOBOL.

XML-enabled COBOL

Provides a set of syntax extensions you can code in your COBOL program manually, or generate automatically using the CBL2XML Wizard or command line utility. You can use these extensions to perform input/output on an XML instance document rather than using a traditional file method such as an index file.