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IBM modernises Cobol apps

IBM is modernising Cobol applications by bridging its mainframe-oriented Cobol and WebSphere products to EJB and service-oriented architectures.

The company will unveil versions of its Enterprise Cobol and WebSphere Studio Enterprise developer products on 17 May.

Improvements in Cobol extend the life of Cobol applications, which IBM officials said account for more than 200 billion lines of code in use worldwide. With the version of Enterprise Cobol, Version 3.3,  the language can be extended to web applications, Soap and HTTP.

In Enterprise Cobol Version 3.3, programmers working with IBM's z/OS can generate outbound XML from a Cobol data structure and interoperate with EJB.

The previous version had support for handling inbound XML to parse it and give access to events, said Jim Rhyne, an IBM distinguished engineer in the company's software group.

Version 3.3 adds the ability to generate XML and hand it off to other applications, he said.

Developers can write EJB in Cobol 3.3 on WebSphere z/OS, which is the mainframe version of the WebSphere application server.

"In effect, what this allows [developers] to do is create reusable components and use those components in [different] environments", such as in a batch application or in a CICS application, he said.

The Cobol compiler replaces manual coding to the Java Native Interface through automatic generation of JNI code that Cobol uses to communicate with Java.

"The main benefit is it allows customers to reuse code that they have without having to duplicate it in Java," Rhyne said. EJB can perform functions such as accessing information in databases or making risk calculations in insurance applications.

Also featured in the new release of Enterprise Cobol is the debugging of Cobol mixed with other types of application code. Version 3.3 also supports the latest release of DB2 Universal Database, which is Version 8.

WebSphere Studio Enterprise Developer 5.1 features IDE capabilities for both J2EE and Cobol development. The product supports service-oriented architectures in that Soap-based access can be developed for mainframe applications. A mainframe system, for example, could be linked to a Windows program.

Also in the new release, WebSphere applications can communicate with CICS applications without having to buy WebSphere Studio Application Developer Enterprise Integrator separately, according to IBM officials.

Also featured is enhanced capabilities for z/OS connectivity and queue management and developer support for Host Access Transformation Server.

Paul Krill writes for Infoworld


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