On the back of the assertion that there are an estimated 220-billion lines of COBOL code in active use in business and finance applications today, Micro Focus is positioning its Visual COBOL R3 tool as a route to give developers the freedom to extend COBOL to the latest platforms using a variety of application development environments, without having to rewrite code.
The company says that Visual COBOL R3 brings COBOL to a broad range of deployment platforms including Windows, UNIX, Linux, .NET and — of particular note with this release of the product — COBOL applications can now be deployed to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform for the first time. With Visual COBOL R3, developers can choose to work with either the Visual Studio 2010 or the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE). They can also deploy core COBOL applications to multiple platforms from a single source — without the need for any platform-specific work.
"There is an ongoing shift towards examining the impact and specific role of the chosen language in conjunction with selecting a platform," said Mark Driver, research VP at Gartner. "Taking COBOL to new platforms like .NET, JVM or the cloud supports a growing trend toward developers choosing the best language for the job, independent of the choice of best deployment platform to use."
Micro Focus says that COBOL functionality to the Azure, .NET, and JVM platforms not only enhances and streamlines application portability but also increases productivity by giving developers the ability to easily manage core applications across multiple platforms. This flexibility also simplifies systems management as multiple application types are running on a single stack, allowing datacenter administrators to use the same tools and processes they are familiar with for other languages.
With the Visual Studio 2010 and Eclipse IDE integration, developers have more tools and resources needed to work with COBOL in a way that's intuitive to .NET and Java programmers. The company also points out that Visual COBOL R3 brings a number of enhancements to the COBOL language, with C# and Java-like constructs, making it even easier to learn for both new and existing COBOL users.
"Visual COBOL R3 also introduces the Visual COBOL Development Hub, a development tool for remote Linux and Unix servers," said Stuart McGill, CTO, Micro Focus. "This Hub allows developers to use COBOL on the desktop to remotely compile and debug code, reducing development and testing times. The availability of this tool within Visual COBOL R3 reduces user on-boarding time, increases developer productivity and ensures users can quickly deploy COBOL applications to multiple platforms."