Micro Focus has announced a new COBOL product, Visual COBOL R3, which enables developers to extend COBOL to the latest platforms without having to rewrite code.
Micro Focus Visual COBOL R3 brings COBOL to a range of deployment platforms. In addition to Windows, UNIX, Linux and .NET, COBOL applications can now be deployed to the JVM (Java virtual machine) and the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform using the Micro Focus technology. Also, with Visual COBOL R3, developers can choose to work with either the Visual Studio 2010 or the Eclipse IDE (integrated development environment.
Moreover, Micro Focus officials said that with an estimated 220 billion lines of COBOL code in active use in business and finance applications today, COBOL systems are powering more than 70 percent of the world's businesses. And rewriting these COBOL applications to incorporate new technologies and platforms can be a costly and risky proposition for companies, Micro Focus said. Visual COBOL R3 can help defray costs and minimize risk.
"There is an ongoing shift toward examining the impact and specific role of the chosen language in conjunction with selecting a platform," Mark Driver, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement. "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 the best deployment platform to use."
Extending 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 manage core applications across multiple platforms, Micro Focus said. This flexibility also simplifies systems management as multiple application types are running on a single stack, allowing data-center administrators to use the same tools and processes they are familiar with for other languages.
The Visual Studio 2010 and Eclipse IDE integration enables developers to work with COBOL in a way that's intuitive to .NET and Java programmers, the company said. And Visual COBOL R3 brings a number of enhancements to the COBOL language such as C# and Java-like constructs.
"I envision a bright future for Micro Focus Visual COBOL since it is based on Visual Studio," Jim DuLaney, Visual COBOL R3 beta user and owner of Jim DuLaney and Company, said in a statement. "COBOL can now be used to build modern applications, not just traditional procedural programming. Visual COBOL combines the best features and benefits of a visual language with easy natural English-like COBOL syntax."
Visual COBOL R3 also introduces the Visual COBOL Development Hub, a development tool for remote Linux and Unix servers. This Hub enables developers to use COBOL on the desktop to remotely compile and debug code, reducing development and testing times.
"As today's enterprises continue to expand into new markets, the need to introduce innovative products, reduce time to market and increase efficiency is more critical than ever," Stuart McGill, chief technology officer at Micro Focus, said in a statement. "Visual COBOL R3 combines the productivity and innovation of the industry's leading development environments with COBOL's business-tested performance. New recruits to COBOL can learn it in hours, not days, helping them extend the life of business-critical applications and develop new, high-powered applications integrating COBOL with other platforms and languages-which many may not even have been considered possible before."