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COBOL COMPILER EVALUATION REPORT

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COBOL COMPILER EVALUATION REPORT Powered By Docstoc
					COBOL COMPILER COMPARISON:


Preface:
        The following compilers are available with the new edition of the Stern and Stern
Structured COBOL Programming, 9th edition:

               1.   RM/COBOL-85 Ver.5.2
               2.   Fujitsu COBOL85 V30l10
               3.   Micro Focus Personal COBOL (animator version 2)
               4.   Micro Focus Net Express 3.0

All four compilers will be evaluated in terms of the following features that are important
to students and faculty:

          Ease of installation
          Ease of use
          Stability
          Quality of debugging tools
          Quality of documentation
          ANSI 85 standard compliance

All of the compilers tested are adequate in that they each posses the features stated above
to a greater or lesser degree.

       All four compilers include the COBOL elements necessary to use the textbook:


          COBOL coding rules
          The four divisions of COBOL program
          The sections of each division
          Syntax rules of COBOL
          Logic structures in COBOL (sequence, selection, repetition)
          Top down and modular programming techniques
          Readability of source code
          Use of design tools: pseudocode, hierarchy chart and flowchart
          Difference between real time and batch processing
          Processing of sequential, relative and indexed files.
          Sorting
          Control break processing.
          Arrays and tables.
NOTE: Y2K compliance can be most easily accomplished with MicroFocus
Personal COBOL, NetExpress and Fujitsu COBOL. None of the PC
compilers make the Report Writer Feature available.



Editor's Choice
Micro Focus Net Express 3.0
"An integrated application development environment with a simple, easy to use interface."

       Among the compilers tested, Micro Focus Net Express 3.0 stood out from the
competition. It was far and away the easiest application to use. Its concise, informative
and abundant on-line documentation, as well as the quality of the included tutorials, is
most impressive.




Runner Up
Fujitsu COBOL 85
"A feature-rich COBOL application development environment fully integrated with Visual
BASIC."

       Fujitsu COBOL 85 was noteworthy among the products tested because of its
plethora of features including web development support, SQL support and integration
with Microsoft Visual BASIC. The product includes Common Ground 2.0, Crystal
Reports 4.5 and voluminous documentation. Most of the documentation is in .dp file
format, and can only be viewed with the Common Ground Viewer program.

        Fujitsu COBOL 85 was the most difficult to use of all the products tested. The
4,020 pages (not including the 8 read me files) of documentation is likely to intimidate
students. Also, the interface was somewhat unwieldy; it is likely that a prospective user
would find it necessary to read the majority of the 250 pages of the COBOL 85 Getting
Started Guide on the CD in order to operate the software.


Note:
       NetExpress and Fujitsu have capabilities such as SQL support and Internet
application development, which are not covered by many undergraduate COBOL
courses, particularly those taught in a single semester. Note, however, that there have
been requests from time to time for SQL support which NetExpress and Fujitsu provide.
Internet application development using COBOL is an area that some advanced courses
may wish to explore.



The following is a detailed description and evaluation of each
compiler that is available with the textbook:

RM/COBOL-85
System Requirements:
OS: DOS 2.0 or greater
CPU: 8088 or better
Memory: 512 k or more
Disk Space: Less than 1MB (Can run from floppy disks)
Display: Monochrome or better

         The version of R/M COBOL-85 available with the text is an educational version.
It can compile source code files that are less than or equal to 1,000 lines. Programs can
define a maximum of four files for input and output, restricted sequential and relative
files to 1,000 lines or records and 132 characters per record. Indexed files are limited to
100 lines or records per file and 132 character per record maximum. Fortunately, the
programs assigned to students who take introductory COBOL courses rarely exceed these
limitations.

       This is fundamentally a DOS-based program and does not require an installer..
Once installed, the software shows no signs of instability.

        The menu-driven interface is intuitive, although somewhat dated. Students should
be able to build a project, add a source code file, compile, debug (including stepping
through a program) and execute a program without the need to carefully read extensive
documentation. The learning curve associated with this product , then, is not at all steep.
The following illustrations outline the process:

       Here is how you launch an application from the DOS prompt:
Use the commands in the menus by pressing the highlighted letter:
Press enter to "enter" the project which can consist of several programs:
Here is how you add members (source code files) to a project:
       Press the "c" key to compile the highlighted member of the current project:




       This automatically launches the "debugging mode". Here you can step through the
source code, or execute it in real time.
And here is the output of our sample program.




Note: A text editor is included as well:
        The text editor is somewhat dated which makes it difficult to use for students
accustomed to the more modern word processors. It requires the use of chain keystrokes
such as "alt + a" to accomplish many operations, as did many older word processors.
Even with the list of commands appearing at the bottom of the screen, students may need
help in using the text editor. The dated interface, lack of online documentation, limited
printed documentation and numerous built in restrictions render this product a little less
useful than the others.

        This product is best used where cost is a major factor, since it is relatively low
priced, and where DOS-based applications prevail.

Fujitsu COBOL 85
Note: Fujitsu COBOL comes packaged with Crystal Reports Professional Ver 4.5 and
Common Ground Ver. 2.01.58; these products will not be evaluated here since they are
not likely to be taught in an introductory COBOL course.

Several different versions of the software were available: versions for SOLARIS, HP/UX
and Windows 3.1. These were not tested.

System Requirements:
OS: Windows 95 or greater (as tested)
CPU: 386 with 387 coprocessor or better
Memory: 16 MB or more
Disk Space: 21 MB or greater Hard Disk space
Display: VGA or better

        Fujitsu COBOL 85 is an extraordinary product. It differs markedly from the other
products tested in that it seems to be a series of highly specialized individual applications
instead of a single application. After installation, the following applications were
available; Fujitsu COBOL Compiler and Runtime System, Fujitsu PowerCOBOL, Fujitsu
PowerBSORT, Fujitsu PowerFORM, Fujitsu PowerGEM Plus, Fujitsu Data Editor,
Fujitsu CGI and the Fujitsu Data Converter as well as Crystal Reports and Common
Ground. Each of these applications has a distinct function. The following excerpt from
the readmefirst.txt file explains their respective functions:

       "FUJITSU COBOL
       - Standards Compliant (Full ANSI Standard COBOL X3.23 1985,
         ISO-1989-1985) "COBOL 85" plus the 89 Addendum"
       - Compatibility support with OS/VS COBOL, VS COBOL II and Micro Focus
       - Embedded SQL Preprocessor with ODBC support
       - Embedded COBOL Report Writer,
       - Full function COBOL execution time debugger
       - Programming Staff (Edit and Compile Environment)
       - Micro Focus Conversion Utility (MFTO85)
       - File Utility
       - Easy integration with Microsoft Visual Basic
FUJITSU PowerCOBOL
- A tool to create Windows based GUI and/or client applications.
- PowerCOBOL is event driven like Visual Basic but the event scripting
  logic is written using COBOL.
- PowerCOBOL is an easy way for COBOL programmers to create GUI
  applications.
- PowerCOBOL supports many popular controls like: sound, images, tables,
  list boxes, ODBC Database access, and DDE.

FUJITSU PowerBSORT OCX
- Easy integration of high performance sort, merge, and copy functions
  with tools like Visual Basic, VC++, and Microsoft Access.
- Support for Sequential, relative and indexed files.

FUJITSU PowerBSORT
- Easy to use user interface to perform ad hoc Sorts, Merges, and Copies
  on sequential, relative and indexed files.
- Provides high performance sort, merge and copy functions. Provides a
  High-speed alternative to COBOL sort verb.
- Call-able interface enables C language routines to perform sort utility
  functions.

FUJITSU PowerGEM Plus
- Comprised of two very powerful features an Integrated Development
  Environment (PowerFRAMEVIEW) and a Code Control System
  PowerGEMPLUS
- Provides a tool integration platform enabling the tools such as
  editors, compilers, tools, and utilities to be launched seamlessly.
- Delivers integrated tools support for multiple programming languages
  (C, C++, COBOL, Fortran, Java, etc.).
- Microsoft Make Facility is included along with a build and make file
  management tool.
- Version control providing the capability to maintain multiple program
  versions, and the ability to restore a program to a previous version.
- Access control allowing project management features to enable check out
  and check in while maintaining a revision history.

PowerFORM (32-bit)
- A flexible tool which enables the creation and maintenance of complex
  print forms.
- Enables replacement of traditional COBOL text reports with graphical
  COBOL reports; making it possible to replace preprinted forms.
- Easy to use GUI form designer allows for layout and the creation of
  forms with color, graphics, shading, and more.
- COBOL program uses Write statements to elements (labels) to use the
  forms created with PowerFORM.
- Forms created with PowerFORM can be used on Windows 95, NT, HP-UX and
  Solaris. (HP-UX and Solaris versions require Fujitsu COBOL and FORM RTS
  in order to use FORM on these platforms).

Data Editor (32-bit)
- Provides the facility to create, update and browse data files; viewing
  them as they appear in a COBOL program.
- Data Editor will display data using the same structure as they appear
  in COBOL programs.
- Supports sequential, indexed, and relative files.
       Data Converter (32-bit)
       - Tool for converting data files from one format to another; input and
         output files are defined and data is converted as it is copied to the
         defined output file.
       - Converts different file organizations: sequential, indexed, relative,
         text file (line sequential), binary, comma-separated values (CSV)
       - Converts different character code systems: ASCII and ECBDIC.

       Crystal Reports (A product of Seagate Software Corporation)
       - A powerful adhoc report program for creating custom reports, lists and
         labels using exist databases.
       - Allows technical and non-technical users to create customized reports
         quickly and easily from a variety of databases, under Microsoft Windows
       - Prepares reports by read data in the database files selected and making
         that data available for use in your report.

       CommonGround (A product of Hummingbird Communications Ltd.)
       - A tool for converting and displaying a document as Digital Paper.
       - CommonGround offers every thing expected from an original document such
         as colors, fonts and graphics -- all in electronic form.

       Cobol-GGI (A product of England Technical Services, Inc.)
       - A tool for interfacing COBOL programs with the Web, and using a
         web browser to display program information.
       - Cobol-CGI retrieves information from the client, such as data entered
         on a form or stored as environment variables, and returns a web page
         response."

       This discussion will be limited to the Fujitsu COBOL compiler and runtime
System, Data editor and documentation. The Fujitsu COBOL Compiler and Runtime
System is itself made up of several applications, but we need only concern ourselves with
the ProgrammingStaff and COBOL Debugger applications.

        As stated previously, ease of use is a key feature in evaluating these compilers.
The development cycle in Fujitsu COBOL is somewhat cumbersome and not very
intuitive; it is likely that new users or students will need to spend many hours studying
the included documentation. Depending upon the skill and experience of the user, this
can be time consuming and sometimes frustrating. Note, however, that the
documentation is extremely well written and well organized.

      To write and compile a simple program requires two separate applications. For
example, first you would launch ProgrammingStaff:
Then you launch the Editor from within ProgrammingStaff :
Next, you create a new file via the drop down menus of editor (or the 'new' button)
Note: A menu appears allowing you to customize the Editor program:
Now you enter the source code:
You save the file using the File menu or the Save icon. To compile the source code you
must return to the ProgrammingStaff application and invoke WINCOB from the tools
menu
Note: You must close the editor window containing the source code or you will get a "file
does not exist, has an invalid name or is in use by another program error." :
Note: After you have selected the file to compile, you must enter compilation parameters
(options). This is likely to be a step that the user might not be familiar with. The simple
program described only requires one (the MAIN argument) parameter, but this MAIN
parameter MUST BE specified. More complex programs will require that you enter the
appropriate parameters-the user will probably need to consult the 230 page Getting
Started guide as well as selected material from other documentation.




If any errors are present, the compiler generates a file (with an .msg file extension)
containing error messages and displays it in an Editor window
Note: Errors included by design to illustrate the point here: PROGRAM-ID in lowercase
and commands statements begun in column 6 instead of 8 and 12 are designated as
syntax errors.




The above represents the corrected source code.
Once you compile with no errors you must link the program. This is accomplished by
using the WINLINK command in the tools menu of ProgrammingStaff




Note: You are given an option to generate an .exe or .DLL file.
Note: you must "add" the link file and type in the name of the target file-the software will
not provide you with these names by default.

Successful compilation opens a window like this:
To run the finished program, return to the tools menu in the ProgrammingStaff
application and use the WINEXEC command:
Note that the commands in the Runtime Environment Setup are not always easy to
interpret. Fortunately our small sample program does not need to modify any of the
defaults!
Here is the completed application after it has been executed:




Note: In general, the debugger is somewhat difficult to use. It has many options, and you
must set or specify those options in order to debug the code. The user must read the
documentation carefully to learn to use it effectively.
         Although the Fujitsu compiler is extremely up-to-date and comprehensive, its
complexity and the steep learning curve make it less useful for introductory COBOL
students.. Some students are likely to become frustrated or spend more time learning to
use it than learning to program in COBOL. However, for those students who are truly
interested and self motivated this product provides an enormous amount of flexibility and
options. The included documentation is textbook quality, and will enable the avid learner
to expand his or her knowledge of the subject.


Micro Focus Personal COBOL
System Requirements:
OS: DOS 5.0 or greater/Windows 3.1 (Win 95 compatible)
CPU: 386 or better
Memory: 8MB or more
Disk Space: 22MB Hard Disk space
Display: VGA or better

        Micro Focus Personal COBOL is a capable application development environment
intended for COBOL students. This program has been packaged with Stern and Stern
Structured COBOL Programming 8th ed and has been very well received. It consists of
the Personal COBOL Browser, Personal COBOL Dialogue System, PDS Users Guide,
Run a COBOL Program and Personal COBOL (animator). We will limit our discussion
to the Personal COBOL animator.

        Micro Focus personal COBOL is a 16-bit Win 3.x application distributed on 6
high-density 3.5'' floppy disks. It has a few stability problems under Windows 95,
however. During installation the installer program tended to "freeze up"; sometimes it
takes two or three attempts to successfully install the software. Also, other problems may
arise during installation, such as corrupted files (help, on-line documentation and source
code), system freezes and intermittent inability to launch the application.

        Unlike all of the other compilers tested, Micro Focus Personal COBOL does not
require the user to set up a project before entering and compiling a source code file. This
is beneficial because most often the programs assigned to COBOL students BCIS050 are
not complex enough to warrant the creation of a project. The development cycle for
Personal COBOL follows:
The following is the Win 3.x interface:
After "checking the program (checkmark icon on toolbar)" you may "open + execute":
And here is the finished program:




Notice how compilation did not require use of the link command.

        The development cycle of this application can be a bit confusing. It requires the
user to create or edit source code in an "open to edit" session of the built in editor. To
compile, debug and execute a program, you must open a separate "open to execute"
session of the editor. While it is possible to make changes to the .int file in the "open to
execute" window that will be reflected in the .cbl file in the "open to edit" window upon
compilation; some problems crop up when you keep both windows open at the same time
and make changes. These problems, namely system freezes and various error messages
occur randomly and infrequently.

         One of the best features of this product is the on-line help. To access it simply
highlight a COBOL reserved word and press "alt + f1". This is much better than the text
files, html and proprietary viewers used by the competition.

       MicroFocus Personal COBOL remains simple to use and very capable. Current
users who have familiarized themselves with the environment and some of the occasional
problems encountered may want to remain with this compiler. But the extended features
and stability of Net Express make it an excellent alternative for those who wish to go to
the next level in COBOL program development.
Micro Focus Net Express Ver. 3.0
System Requirements:
OS: Windows 95 or greater
CPU: 486 or better
Memory: 16MB or more
Disk Space: 115 MB Hard Disk space
Display: VGA or better

       Micro Focus Net Express Ver. 3.0 has the best mix of features for our purposes.
This product has none of the shortcomings of its predecessor Personal COBOL. There is
no "open to execute" option here. The stability problems have been solved as well. The
software installed and operated flawlessly.

       The development cycle is straightforward. You simply launch the application:
The use of a menu to open (or edit) a source code file follows:




There is no need to "check" the source (as in Personal COBOL); once you are finished
editing you may compile by clicking the "sprinter" icon:
You will need to identify the file to be compiled:




A completed application can be obtained in very little time:
        In addition to its simplicity, other noteworthy features of this software include
extensive use of wizards, concise and informative documentation in html format, high
quality online textbooks in html format on a variety of topics including Database access
and client-server application development.

				
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