COBOL Check is a unit testing framework for the COBOL language. It was originally created because unlike other mainstream programming languages like Java and C#, COBOL did not have a good unit testing framework. This spurred Dave Nicolette, Programmer and Chair of Open Mainframe Project’s COBOL Check, to create a prototype of a unit testing/checking framework for COBOL back in 2014. He was later contacted by the Open Mainframe Project (OMP) and is now working on creating a usable, realistic version 1.0 that can be released.
In this episode of TFiR Let’s Talk, Swapnil Bhartiya sat down with Nicolette to discuss the unit testing framework for COBOL. Nicolette says, “Now we’re at a point where everyone needs the robust operational techniques that mainframers understand, and everybody needs the robust development techniques that everyone else has been using. So the two worlds are coming together again.”
In the 1990s, a myth around mainframe dying led to many turning their attention away from it. For those who continued to focus on mainframe, one of the key drivers was to modernize the systems of large companies that had had mission-critical applications in place for many years but where often there was a lack of understanding how they interconnected and how the data flowed through the systems. The focus was on analyzing the production environment and getting data analytics about how the systems interconnected.
For the rest of the world, however, the business driver was time to market, building web applications and then later mobile applications, and service-oriented applications. They did not have the big investment in legacy systems and improvement lay in development techniques, testing techniques, packaging, and deployments. However, the need for the mainframes’ robust, operational techniques teamed with the robust development techniques has brought about a renewed connection between the two worlds.
COBOL Check aims to provide the same kind of a feeling for a developer, as if they were unit testing for C# or Java. However, it’s also designed to be intuitive for a COBOL programmer.
COBOL Check can be used on a variety of systems such as Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, z/OS or power system. The fine-grained unit testing program runs outside of the real environment, taking out all the external resources or anything external to the code. Thereafter, developers can do a higher level of testing with access to databases, files, or needing to run in a KICKS environment can upload the code and run it on z/OS.
About Dave Nicolette: Dave Nicolette, Programmer, is the Chair of Open Mainframe Project’s COBOL Check project.
About COBOL Check: COBOL Check is a unit testing framework for the COBOL language. Good unit testing frameworks exist for most mainstream programming languages, but not for COBOL. We want to provide this kind of tool for COBOL developers.
About Open Mainframe Project: Open Mainframe Project was founded in 2015, as a focal point for deployment and use of Linux and Open Source in a mainframe computing environment. Open Source is the collective thread within leading organizations that look to leverage their technology infrastructure as a competitive advantage. The mainframe design principles of security, stability, scalability, and performance are important to these leading organizations, and having the mainframe interoperable in a hybrid infrastructure enables leading organizations to realize its benefits. Open Mainframe Project believes this is best achieved as a community through open source.
The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.