New Features in Visual COBOL 7.0

Micro Focus COBOL Extension for Visual Studio Code

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The new Micro Focus COBOL extension for Visual Studio Code is available on the Microsoft Visual Studio Marketplace. This provides edit, compile and debug support for Visual COBOL and Enterprise Developer users in Visual Studio Code.

Note: The new Micro Focus COBOL extension is not included with the Visual COBOL installer.

.NET Core Support

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Support has been added for creating, building and running .NET Core projects using the dotnet command. This new support is in addition to the ability to work with .NET Core projects in the IDE.

COBOL Language

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The following enhancements have been made to the Micro Focus COBOL language:

  • .NET COBOL data type to hold strings of utf-8 characters - support is now available in .NET COBOL for the PIC U data type. This was already available for native COBOL, to support its introduction by IBM in Enterprise COBOL version 6.3.
  • The DYNAMIC LENGTH clause, which enables a data item to vary in length at run time, is supported for native COBOL code. Again, this is in response to its introduction by IBM in Enterprise COBOL version 6.3.
  • The following date-format-checking intrinsic functions have been added: TEST-DATE-YYYYMMDD and TEST-DAY-YYYYDDD.

Code Analysis

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This release includes the following enhancements:

  • Get Direct References command - you can use this command to see if changing a file will affect the other files in your project as well as the files in the whole application. In Visual Studio, you can access this command from the context menu for COBOL files in Solution Explorer or from the Analysis Server window.
  • The Data Flow Analysis is now available in both a tree and a graph view.
  • The Code Analysis functionality is now available for the Procedural Multi-Output Project (.NET Framework) type.

Code Set Support

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The following enhancements have been made to the integrated code set translation support:

  • Arabic support for Enterprise Server applications is available.

    If you are building Arabic support into Enterprise Server applications, your terminal emulator must support the Arabic EBCDIC 420 code page.

    Support is added by building your applications and configuring your enterprise server regions with the MFCODESET variable set to the supported country code (0420). Your product's in-built code set translation utility performs translations between the ASCII 1256 Arabic code page on your enterprise server region, and a terminal emulator that supports the Arabic EBCDIC 420 code page (for example, IBM's Personal Communications emulator).

    There are some considerations when working with a bi-directional language such as Arabic; these are discussed in Arabic support considerations.

Compiler Directives

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The following Compiler directives are new in this release:

  • PANVALET-INCLUDES-IN-COMMENTS - This directive controls whether ++INCLUDE statements in comments are actioned or not.
  • EXECSQL-FLAG - This directive defines whether syntax reporting should emulate that of the DB2 preprocessor, the DB2 coprocessor, or to allow all syntax variations of both.
  • RM-FILE-ERRORS - This directive generates run-time system errors for certain file conditions, even when a FILE STATUS clause is present; this is to emulate RM/COBOL behavior.

The following Compiler directive option has been deprecated:

  • ILCLR(2) - this is as a result of deprecating support for versions 3.0 and 3.5 of the .NET Framework. Applications that have this option set will produce an E level message when compiled in this release of Visual COBOL.

Containers Support

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Support for containers in Visual Studio has the following enhancements:

  • You can now add a Dockerfile to native Micro Focus Unit Testing projects in Visual Studio and run the tests in a container.
  • Projects with Docker support now include an additional Containers property page. From it you can:
    • Specify any build, debug and run arguments for the image that will override the arguments specified in the project's dockerfile.
    • See all command-line arguments that will be applied when you build the image.
    • See the arguments that will apply when you run the container, or debug an application running in a container.
  • The Add COBOL Docker Support dialog box now shows all available images, and supports images provided with a Patch Update release of this product suite.

    The versions of the Runtime Image and the Built Tools Image must match therefore the dialog box only shows the Built Tools Image that match the one for the runtime. For example, if you use a Patch Update 1 Build Tools image, the dialog box only shows the relevant Patch Update 1 Runtime image.

    The dialog box shows only the images that match the major release version (or a Patch Update of it) of your installed product. They must target the same platform (x64 or x86) as well. If you want to specify images from different major product versions, you need to edit the Dockerfile manually.

Database Access - OpenESQL

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This release provides the following enhancement:

  • New OpenESQL TRACELEVEL=5 option - native OpenESQL applications can now trace ODBC calls to the database vendor’s ODBC driver, recording the start and stop times of each call’s execution. OpenESQL tracing can now provide more detail on where an SQL application is spending execution time, in the OpenESQL layer or the underlying ODBC driver layer.

Data File Tools

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This release includes the following enhancements in the Data File Editor:

  • New Data Explorer for working with data sets - a new Data Explorer enables you to connect to either an ESCWA service or directly to an enterprise server region to access a catalog when working with data sets in the editor.
  • Multiple record selection- you can select multiple records and, where appropriate, can perform certain actions on more than one record at once.
  • Cut, copy, and paste functionality - traditional cut, copy, and paste functionality (including the standard Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, and Ctrl+V shortcuts) is now available throughout the editor.
  • New filter creation - a new process for creating filters has been introduced. A filter consists of one or more sets of conditions, and the resulting filter can include or exclude those records selected. The previous filter process is still available, but has been marked as deprecated.
  • Remote filtering - functionality has gone into Fileshare Server which allows filtering to occur server side when opening data sets on remote enterprise server regions. The filter process results in only those filtered records being downloaded to the data file editor client.
  • Find/replace functionality - you can search records in a data file to identify specific strings, and then if required, replace them.

Enterprise Server

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This release includes the following enhancements:

  • Multiple Network Interface support - there is improved support for multiple network interfaces in some components, including better awareness of network interfaces and control over networking. This is a partial implementation and will be enhanced in future releases.
  • Extended IPv6 support - support is available in Micro Focus Directory Server (MFDS) and in the Micro Focus Communications Server (MFCS) listener for multiple IPv6 addresses.

    In release 6.0, you could only configure MFDS and MFCS listeners to listen on a single IPv6 address. In release 7.0, by default, MFDS and MFCS now listen on all configured IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, and can also be configured to listen on a combination of specific addresses.

  • HTTP improvements:
    • Additional security measures for HTTP, such as security-related headers.
    • Chunking support for large HTTP messages makes it possible to retrieve very large files from Enterprise Server regions.
  • Application Diagnostic Reporting for Enterprise Server - Application diagnostic reporting collects and packages a number of reports, trace, and log files into a single report file. See Application Diagnostic Reporting for Enterprise Server for more information.
  • Enterprise Server now supports automatic reconnection to the standby Queue manager in an Multi-Instance Queue Manager. See Reconnecting to an MQ Server in a Multi-instance Queue Manager and Enterprise Server XA Reconnect for more information.
  • The casmgr process has been optimized to improve the use of initiators when dispatching jobs across a PAC. In addition, improvements have been made to the way it manages the queue of jobs waiting to be dispatched.
  • Information has been added describing the best practice and the recommended approach you should adopt when performing a Patch Update to your PAC environment. See Performing a Product Upgrade to a PAC Environment for more information.
  • New operating modes, upgrade and quiesce, have been introduced for Performance and Availability Clusters (PACs). These operating modes can be used to facilitate the installation of product updates that introduce incompatibilities between PSOR data structures. You can check for incompatibilities using the new caspac utility option CheckCompat. An upgrade mode can be set when starting the first enterprise server region in a new PAC using the new casstart utility start-type option u. This upgrade mode will prevent participating enterprise server regions from processing batch workloads as part of its normal operation, and any EXEC CICS START requests will be rejected. See casstart and caspac in your product Help for more information.

    When enough enterprise server regions have been switched over to the new PAC, the old PAC can be set to operate in the quiesce mode. This prevents further batch workload and EXEC CICS START from being processed.

    The new PAC can now be switched to running mode so that batch workload and EXEC CICS START are enabled for processing again.

    Note: Before setting the new PAC mode to running, you must switch enough enterprise server regions to the new PAC to enable it to service the expected workload.

Enterprise Server Common Web Administration (ESCWA)

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This release offers the following improvements:

  • MFDS User Interface functionality replacement - ESCWA now replaces the MFDS inside the IDE as the engine that provides access to and management of regions. ESCWA provides all the functionality that was previously available from MFDS. This release includes the following enhancements:
    • Delete all regions.
    • Session list.
    • Renew listening addresses.
  • ESMAC User Interface functionality replacement - the following ESMAC features have been implemented in ESCWA:
    • Resource Filtering. See CICS Resources for more information.
    • Millisecond support. See Threshold, Monitor, and Active PCT for more information.
    • Control the scope for all changes to timeouts, trace flags, and memory strategy when applied to regions in a PAC. See ES Control for more information.
    • Enable Application Diagnostic reporting. See ES Control and Application Diagnostic Reporting for Enterprise Server for more information.
    • Submission of local jobs from the JES Control page when CASRDO44_NEWSUB=OFF has been specified. See JES Control for more information.
    • View and reply to pending ACCEPT FROM CONSOLE statements. See Pending Replies for more information.
    • The messages after a JCL job has been submitted are now correctly JSON formatted. This page now works in ESCWA when MFJUXIT is enabled.
  • Import, export, and copy regions - you can now use the UI to export and import regions in various formats, including use JSON. You can:
    • Copy regions between Directory Servers
    • Import and export regions in JSON, XML or in the .dat legacy format. The legacy format can be converted to a modern format.
  • Mainframe Access (MFA) administration - ESCWA provides a modern Web UI and does not require you to use a separate terminal application. Features include:
    • Log in or off from MFA.
    • Change your MFA password.
    • View MFA server tasks.
    • Retrieve the XDBOUT log (Web UI).
    • Retrieve the JES spool files by DD Name (API).
    • Set the MFA and JES tracing level.
    • View the active MFA users.
    • Invalidate active user sessions.
    • View mainframe/MFA statistics.

    See Mainframe in the Enterprise Server Common Web Administration chapter for more information.

    The MFA API library has been exposed to enable you to test and use the requests that are provided. See MFA Interactive API Library for more information.

  • Scale-Out and PAC administration - you can now:
    • Monitor Redis Sentinel and Cluster instances when used for Scale-Out Repositories.
    • Specify that all changes to timeouts, trace flags, and memory strategy can be applied to one of three options:
      • Only the local region.
      • All members of a PAC except the regions where local changes have been made.
      • All members of a PAC.

      You can configure this in ESCWA with the Apply Scope field on the ES CONTROL page. Alternatively, you can use the casutl utility with the /w option. See casutl for more information.

  • Multi-Network Interface Card support - ESCWA now enables you to configure Communications Servers and Listeners to listen on multiple IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. Previously, they were limited to listen on either all IPv4 addresses, or a single IPv4 or IPv6 address. Now a combination of any of the following can be used:
    • One or more specific IPv4 addresses.
    • One or more specific IPv6 addresses.
    • All IPv4 addresses.
    • All IPv6 addresses.
  • A new filter field resFilter has been added to the following ESCWA and ESMAC resource listing modules:
    • Every resource in By Type
    • Every resource in By Start L
    • Resource lists under Groups
    • Every active resource type except Locks

    This parameter will filter the list of resources displayed by ESCWA and ESMAC. In addition, a new environment variable ES_RDO_MAX_RESOURCES has been added that enables you to specify a limit to the number of records displayed. For JSON requests, the list being truncated is indicated by the addition of the JSON property "truncated": true.

Enterprise Server Security

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This release includes the following enhancements:

  • MLDAP ESM caching - the MLDAP ESM Module now implements LDAP search-result caching. This is controlled by the existing Security Manager cache settings, so that many installations will have this activated automatically. See the product Help for details.
  • Vault Hashicorp support - support is available for using a Hashicorp KV2 vault server as a local or remote vault.

Library Routines

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The following library routines are new:

  • CBL_GET_ERROR_INFO - enables error processing routines to establish the location of the error that occurred to cause the error processing routine to execute. This is available on a restricted range of platforms.


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AutoPass licensing technology

In this release, Micro Focus brings in the power of the in-house Micro Focus AutoPass licensing technology alongside Sentinel RMS. AutoPass has the following additional benefits compared to Sentinel RMS:

  • Usage logging which enables you to monitor the product usage. You need to install the AutoPass License Server in order to do this.
  • Ongoing support for all platforms that this product is available for.

Features include:

  • Installing this release installs both the AutoPass Daemon and the Sentinel RMS License Manager. Both of them are available in the Micro Focus License Administration tool.
  • You can have both AutoPass and Sentinel RMS licenses installed on the same machine. Optionally, you can switch off the licensing technology you do not use.
  • If you are an existing user of a Visual COBOL or an Enterprise Developer product, you only need an AutoPass license if you want to utilize usage logging or if you want to use your product on a platform on which Sentinel RMS is not supported.
  • If you are a new user of the Micro Focus COBOL products, you will normally be issued an AutoPass license.
  • Micro Focus will continue to provide Sentinel RMS in future releases of this product.
  • AutoPass licenses should be installed into the existing Micro Focus License Administration tool, and not in the AutoPass License Server.
Important: The SafeNet Sentinel licensing system has been deprecated and will be not available in this product starting with the next major release after release 9.0.

The SafeNet Sentinel licenses will not be supported after release 9.0 and you need to use AutoPass licenses if you use these releases.

You can replace your SafeNet Sentinel licenses with AutoPass licenses starting with release 8.0. Contact Micro Focus Customer Care for further information.

Installing licenses at the command line

On Windows, Micro Focus License Administration is now also available as a command-line utility.

For more about AutoPass and usage logging, and about Micro Focus License Administration, see Managing Licenses.

The Micro Focus Unit Testing Framework

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The following enhancements have been made to the Micro Focus Unit Testing Framework:

  • The MFUPP preprocessor has been introduced to provide a seam between your program and a unit test. This seam lets you access the internals of a program under test, allowing you to create granular unit tests from paragraphs or sections. The MFUPP preprocessor also provides the ability to mock programs or stub programs out to create a unit test.

Visual Studio Integration

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This release includes enhancements in the following areas:


  • Code cleanup - Visual Studio now supports a variety of code cleanup options for COBOL which you can apply during formatting. These enable you to update any existing code, or enforce rules for new code for specific keywords or operators.
  • EditorConfig file support - you can now create .editorconfig files with the code style settings in the IDE, and share the file within your organization to ensure consistency of the code.