Fujitsu Pushes COBOL Support for Web Services

Fujitsu wants to bring better support for COBOL to the Eclipse IDE with plug-in modules for writing, editing and debugging COBOL to the Open Source framework. To date, Eclipse has focused on Java and C/C++. The decision to include COBOL in Eclipse follows Fujitsu's work earlier this year to bring COBOL support to Microsoft's .NET framework and Linux platforms.

Tags: Cobol, Support, Fujitsu, Eclipse, Languages, Developers, NetCOBOL,

Fujitsu is looking to bring better support for COBOL to the Eclipse IDE with a half-dozen plug-in modules to the Open Source framework, providing functions to compile, edit, build and debug Cobol applications. Currently, other Eclipse projects are all oriented toward Java and C/C++.

"Our focus is COBOL application development on Windows/Solaris/Linux for deployment on each platform," Fujitsu said in its proposal document. The initial code base is from Fujitsu's commercial COBOL product that supports Red Hat Linux 7.2, Eclipse R2.0 and Fujitsu NetCOBOL 7.0.

The timeline is aggressive: Fujitsu believes "it will be possible to deliver a public release in February 2003" of core Phase I features, including:
  • Defining common bridge interface for COBOL compiler and debugger
  • Dependency analysis among copy libraries
  • Improve stability
  • Provide internationalization support
  • Provide support for Solaris and Windows platforms

  • Much of this quick delivery will likely be based on work already productized by Fujitsu in its support for Linux. Earlier this year, Fujitsu released a NetCOBOL for Linux that is based on the Eclipse IDE. Details of its support and features are available at

    Nonetheless, Fujitsu is looking for help from other developers/ISVs in particular areas, including providing wizards for developing applications that use particular library or database or messaging APIs, or extension to other languages. The core source code being offered to the Eclipse project can be downloaded here.

    .NET COBOL Support in Windows Available
    Fujitsu's proposal to support Eclipse follows its decision early in 2002 to bring COBOL support to another plug-in web services framework, Microsoft's .NET Framework. In endorsing .NET, Fujitsu said, in part, "With an estimated 70 percent of production business applications written in COBOL, the answer to enhancing those applications lies not in throwing out the COBOL, but in finding better ways to make it do new things." Fujitsu's position paper on COBOL for .NET is available here.

    In its .NET work, Fujitsu wants to provide COBOL developers with access to .NET class libraries and ASP+, enabling COBOL experts to work seamlessly with C++ and Visual Basic developers.

    Another key driver for supporting both Eclipse and .NET frameworks, the company said, is that these environments "allow programmers to bridge the barriers using common interfaces and programming tools." Fujitsu's NetCOBOL for .NET provides the following support to allow COBOL developers to seamless bring their legacy code (and skill sets) to .NET web services construction:
  • COBOL compiler generates standard .NET MSIL (Microsoft Intermediate Language) code
  • COBOL programs can be integrated seamlessly with other languages: inheriting from classes created in other languages, invoking and being invoked by methods written in other languages.
  • Full access to .NET Framework classes, including XML Web service classes
  • Mixed language applications can be debugged with the one, Visual Studio, debugger
  • Support for using COBOL as an ASP.NET language
  • Interoperation with COM and existing native code compilers.

  • In addition, in Fujitsu's support for Visual Studio .NET (available as the Fujitsu NetCOBOL for .NET Compiler), a COBOL file-handling feature supports all COBOL file types (sequential, line sequential, relative and indexed). In addition, NetCOBOL for .NET comes with .NET-supporting extensions that support traditional COBOL syntax, including most of COBOL 85, 89 addendum, and Object-Oriented COBOL. These allow for easy COBOL developer access to Windows GUIs and interface access to leading ODBC-compliant relational databases, including Oracle, SQL Server, Oracle, Informix and Sybase, among others.
    A FAQ on Fujitsu's offering for .NET is available at . Fujitsu's NetCOBOL for .NET Compiler can be downloaded at .