Backward Compatibility with Earlier Micro Focus Products

Backward Compatibility with Studio Enterprise Edition

File Control Description (FCD)
The FCD format for file handling operations in 32-bit applications defaults to FCD3 in Visual COBOL; in Studio Enterprise Edition, it defaulted to FCD2.

Backward Compatibility with Net Express and Net Express with .NET 5.1

Treatment of DBCS literals
In Net Express, under the NCHAR directive, if an alphanumeric literal contained only DBCS characters, then the literal was treated as class NCHAR. In Visual COBOL, this is not true, and you are required to prefix literals in the procedure division with N to achieve equivalent behavior (for example: IF N"dbcs-chars" = data-item-1.), which is significant when performing comparisons, where NCHAR literals get padded with double byte spaces. In Visual COBOL, all literals that are surrounded by quotes without any character specified (B", N", etc...) are always treated as alphanumeric.
Note: In the following scenario, the literal is still treated as a NCHAR literal:
01 data-item pic N value "dbcs-charaters".
Default working mode
In versions of Visual COBOL R4 and earlier, the default working mode set by the COBMODE environment variable was 32-bit. With the current release of Visual COBOL and Enterprise Developer, it is 64-bit.
Format of the index files
In Net Express, the default setting of the IDXFORMAT option was 4. With the current release of Visual COBOL, it is 8.
FILEMAXSIZE File Handler configuration option

In Net Express, the default setting for FILEMAXSIZE was 4. With the current release of Visual COBOL, it is 8.

Applications developed using Net Express 5.1 or Net Express with .NET 5.1 might require some changes when you move it to Visual COBOL. In particular, Visual COBOL does not include support for the following functionality that was available in Net Express 5.1:

  • Debugging tools:
    • Animator
    • Data Tools (Data File Converter, Data File Editor, Fix File Index, and IMS Database Editor)
      Note: You can separately install the Micro Focus Data File Tools Add Pack which includes the Data File Converter, Data File Editor, and Record Layout Editor. Download the Add Pack from the Micro Focus Customer Care site.
    • FSView
    • Remote development
  • Diagnostic tools:
    • FaultFinder

      The FaultFinder tool has been removed from the current version of Visual COBOL. This includes the removal of the following tunables:

      • faultfind_level
      • faultfind_outfile
      • faultfind_recsize
      • faultfind_config
      • faultfind_cache_enable

      You should either remove these tunables from your application or set the tunable cobconfig_error_report=false in your configuration file.

  • Runtime/Deployment support:
    • Single-threaded run-time system
    • Static-linked run-time system
  • Programming features:
    • Btrieve
    • ISAPI
    • Mainframe subsystems (CICS, JCL, and IMS)
    • NSAPI

Backward Compatibility with Earlier Versions of Visual COBOL

Updated run-time system

COBOL Server now provides an execution environment capable of running applications that were each built using different development products. A consequence of this is that If your application has a main COBOL executable (.exe) that was built with a version of Visual COBOL prior to version 2.3, you should ensure that the executable is rebuilt and packaged with the new run-time system. You can rebuild from the IDE or the command line.

Other COBOL subprograms built with previous versions of Visual COBOL are not required to be rebuilt.

Calling program search order
In previous versions of Visual COBOL (and earlier Micro Focus products) you could use a run-time tunable to define a specific order in which the run-time system searches for called sub-programs. Due to changes in the run-time system, there is only one viable specific search order, and therefore the program_search_order tunable is no longer available; remove the tunable from any configuration you have set. The default (and only) order used is:
  • If the sub-program is already loaded, or is statically linked, it is located and the search ends.
  • If COBPATH is set, the list of paths in the variable are searched, in order; if COBPATH is not set, the current directory is searched.
  • On Windows platforms, if you are calling dynamic link libraries (.dll files) without a specific path, the COBPATH environment variable is searched.
  • The path of the calling program is searched.

If the sub-program cannot be located using one of the above methods, a run-time error is produced.

Using parentheses in member reference
In .NET COBOL syntax, you may only use parentheses when referencing methods. You can no longer specify parentheses when referencing fields or properties, as this will produce a syntax error.

For example:

set intLength to testString::Length()

must change to:

set intLength to testString::Length
Calling RM/COBOL compatible library routines
Previously, to call an RM/COBOL compatible library routine, you had to set the DIALECT"RM" Compiler directive, which ensured the correct call-convention was used. To set this functionality now, you must explicitly use the correct call-convention in the CALL statement.
If you set this Compiler directive using the $set command, the imported namespace is only applicable to programs, classes and referenced copybooks in that file. If you set the directive through the IDE or from the command line, the imported namespace is applicable to all programs and classes in the project or specified on the command line.
This Compiler directive is no longer available in Visual COBOL. Remove it from your code, otherwise you receive a COBCH0053 Directive invalid or not allowed here error.
If your code specifies the ACUFH parameter, it may now produce adverse effects when used. You should replace it with the methods described in Configuring Access to Vision Data Files or Configuring Access to RM/COBOL Data Files. Both of these methods offer a fuller-functioning solution to handling these types of data files.
Compatible ACUCOBOL-GT file handling environment variables
The following environment variables, introduced for ACUCOBOL-GT compatibility, have been replaced with other environment variables or configuration options that you add to your File Handler configuration file. No other ACUCOBOL-GT file handling environment variables are supported.
Redundant variable Replaced with
FILE_CASE FILECASE configuration option
FILE_PREFIX COBDATA environment variable
FILE_SUFFIX FILESUFFIX configuration option

Setting these environment variables will have no effect.

Coexisting with Earlier Micro Focus Products

Run-time system error due to COBCONFIG
A run-time system error occurs if the COBCONFIG environment variable is set when you run Visual COBOL applications or when you use Visual COBOL to edit or create projects and the configuration file it refers to contains entries that are not valid for Visual COBOL.

For example, this might happen if you have Net Express or Studio Enterprise Edition installed and COBCONFIG is set for it.

To work around this issue, ensure that Visual COBOL is not running and then modify the configuration file by doing one of the following:

  • If the invalid tunable is not needed by another application, remove it from the run-time configuration file.
  • Add the following as the first line in the configuration file:
    set cobconfig_error_report=false
  • Unset COBCONFIG (or COBCONFIG_) or set it to another configuration file that does not contain the invalid tunable for the particular session you are running in.
Licensing error due to environment settings
The message "Micro Focus License Manager service is not running" can occur when you invoke a Net Express or Studio Enterprise Edition utility from Visual COBOL. This happens when the tool is invoked with Visual COBOL environment settings while it requires the Net Express or Studio Enterprise Edition ones.

This happens when you edit files such as .dat that have a file association with Net Express or Studio Enterprise Edition. This can also happen when invoking a utility within the Net Express or Studio Enterprise Edition products as an external tool from Visual COBOL.

You can workaround this problem in Visual COBOL as follows:

  1. Create a batch file that unsets COBREG_PARSED before the tool is invoked. The batch file contains:
    Call [PathToUtility] %1

    Where PathToUtility is the path to the Net Express or Studio Enterprise Edition utility.

  2. In the Visual Studio IDE, add the batch file instead of the utility itself as an external tool.

    This ensures that the proper environment is established when running that tool.

Directives Scan

The default options for directives scan (click Tools > Options > Micro Focus Tools > Directives > COBOL in the IDE) have been changed since the previous release of Visual COBOL.