Joined: 06 Jul 2008 Posts: 4 Location: Chennai, India
I wanted to know if there are "Integrated Development Environment" products that specifically runs in mainframe ISPF environment for writing COBOL programs (COBOL II / Enterprise COBOL). (Note: 'runs in mainframe' in the sense of IDE's working environment) I have extensively searched through internet and also in this forum. Though I could find a multitude of COBOL IDEs which runs in windows/PC environment, only an IDE named APS - a product of MicroFocus, seems to run in mainframe ISPF environment.
Please help me in finding any other such product that you are using or have come across.
Joined: 20 Feb 2009 Posts: 108 Location: Kansas City
Looks like APS was replaced with MicroFocus Mainframe Express. I'm not sure what you mean by 'runs in ISPF'. From reading the MF Express docs, it appears that IDE allows users to edit on the desktop and run programs on either the desktop OR the mainframe.
I believe IBM Rational Developer products provide this same type of functionality. If I recall, IBM Rational Dev run something like $3,000 per developer per year (that includes support)(they used to have pricing on the site, don't know if they still do).
There used to be commercial alternatives to the standard ISPF editor (for editing on the mf in a tso session). The name of the one I used to use escapes me at the moment.
Information about these products is hard to come by though. You have to contact the companies, they're not cheap (they have to pay their sales staff after all).
Depending on your needs, you may be able to get what you want by writing a few edit macros or finding some already written. Common macros I've seen at various places, and have written at various times myself include compiling programs and merging the error messages into the editor as note lines (thats very common), placing the cursor on a copybook to open the copybook (also common), finding where a variable or label is declared (a bit complex if done right), and content assist (more complex still but definitely possible and handy). Content assist for variable names is easy unless you are checking for validity.
To do context sensitive content assist, or keyword assist, your macro sort of needs to understand the structure of the language, data types of variables and allowed operations at any give point - in short it almost needs to be a compiler itself. But I find simple variable and label name assistance to be fine. The hardest part of these macros is probably presenting the data in a useful format.
The trick to writing any of these is to understand the output of the cobol compiler's diagnostic file and parse it. Macros can be done in Rexx but would be much faster in a compiled language for a task like reading the diagnostic files.
The usability problem of writing something like this in an ISPF editor is that you quickly run out of PF keys to initiate the commands. You can always type in commands but that sort of destroys your work flow, or it does mine, at least.