Overview of Debugging in Visual Studio Code

Debugging in Visual Studio Code requires that you create a launch configuration with the settings which the debugger requires to enable it to debug your COBOL code. The following instructions demonstrate how to debug native COBOL code with the default launch configuration:

  1. Open the folder that contains your sources in Visual Studio Code.
  2. Ensure that the sources are compiled.
  3. Click (Run > Start Debugging).

    This shows the Task Picker with the available debugging tasks:

  4. Select COBOL (native): (native) from the drop-down list. This is the default task provided with the Micro Focus COBOL extension for debugging native COBOL applications.

    This creates a launch.json file in a .vscode subfolder in the folder that holds your sources. By default, the launch.json contains two configurations - one for debugging a standalone application, and one for attaching the debugger to a running process:

        "configurations": [
                "type": "cobol",
                "request": "launch",
                "name": "COBOL (native): Launch",
                "program": "${workspaceFolder}/<insert-program-name-here>",
                "cwd": "${workspaceFolder}",
                "stopOnEntry": true
                "type": "cobol",
                "request": "attach",
                "name": "COBOL (native): Attach to process",
                "processId": "${command:pickProcess}"

    You can add more configurations to this file as required.

  5. In the Activity bar, click to open the Run panel.

    The two default launch configurations are listed in the Configuration drop-down within the Run panel:

    List of debug configurations
  6. Select the launch configuration, COBOL (native): Launch, and click (Start Debugging).
    Debugging features in Visual Studio Code
  7. Use the commands in the Debug widget to step through the code.
    The Visual Studio Code debug widget
  8. Use the available views to watch how variables change.
  9. As you step through the code, the values of variables on the current line are shown inline in the editor, at the end of the line:
    Inline values of variabes during debugging

    You can control whether to display the inline values with the Microsoft Debug: Inline Values setting of Visual Studio Code.

  10. In the VARIABLES panel, click the View Binary Data icon on a row for a variable.

    This opens a Memory window that enables you to view and edit data in the memory associated with the selected item.