COBOL Migration FAQ
Migrating from OS/VS COBOL to a More Current Release: The Most Commonly Asked Questions

To view a question and its answer, click on a question below.


COBOL Conversion Issues

Is it necessary to convert all of my COBOL programs at once?

What effort is involved in converting my COBOL programs?

Is it cheaper to convert my programs manually?

What if I choose not to convert my COBOL programs?


MHtran-2

What is MHtran-2?

How does MHtran-2 work?

What percentage of code will MHtran-2 translate?

How does MHtran-2 ensure accuracy during the conversion?

How do programmers use MHtran-2?


Support

What about support and assistance during the migration?


Introduction

Since the introduction of VS COBOL II, and subsequently COBOL for MVS and COBOL for OS/390, we have been asked many questions about the process of migrating OS/VS COBOL programs to the most current release of COBOL. Our migration experts have completed and consulted on hundreds of successful migration projects, and as such, are uniquely qualified to discuss migration planning considerations for various types of organizations and processing environments. Following are the most commonly asked questions surrounding COBOL compiler upgrades, and the conversion issues involved.


COBOL Conversion Issues

Is it necessary to convert all of my COBOL programs at once?

No, in fact, many of our clients have chosen to implement a migration plan that translates programs gradually over a period of time, an approach which minimizes the impact on your programming staff schedules. How you prioritize your programs for translation will depend on the needs of your organization. For example, the following OS/VS COBOL programs would probably be prime candidates for conversion:

  • CICS programs in regions which have a virtual storage constraint;
  • Programs which are at the limits of OS/VS COBOL (for example, programs constrained by table size limitations);
  • Programs being modified for enhancements or bug removal;
  • Programs used frequently by your organization; and
  • Programs that would benefit from more powerful testing and debugging capabilities.

What effort is involved in converting my COBOL programs?

Converting programs manually is a tedious and error-prone task. MHtran-2 makes your COBOL migration easier, faster, and more cost-effective by automatically translating your OS/VS COBOL programs to COBOL/370 or OS/390 completely and accurately, while providing better control of the migration process via an on-line Migration database that records key translation activities.

Is it cheaper to convert my programs manually?

In most cases, converting your programs automatically with MHtran-2 will be more cost-efficient than manual translation, even if you have as few as 500 programs. Equally as important, MHtran-2 eliminates the tedious task of manual translation and the potential errors associated with such a manual effort, allowing programmers to focus on other tasks and projects.

What if I choose not to convert my COBOL programs?

IBM has already introduced many new releases of operating system components, which support only the new COBOL compilers. This trend will most likely continue, and choosing not to upgrade to most current COBOL will very likely lock you into an obsolete technology, unable to take advantage of new features and additional functionality.

MHtran-2

What is MHtran-2?

MHtran-2 is the most advanced migration software available on the market today for converting your OS/VS COBOL programs to COBOL/370 or COBOL for OS/390. Developed by migration experts, MHtran-2 automatically translates OS/VS COBOL programs (COBOL 68 and 74) to the most current compiler standard. Designed to operate in all MVS environments, MHtran-2 also supports CA-Panvalet, CA-Librarian, CA-IDMS, IMS, and more. Features like on-line access and menu-driven operation provide maximum programmer productivity and minimum interruption to other programming responsibilities.

How does MHtran-2 work?

MHtran-2 reads the program source code and dynamically processes COPY members and/or CA-Librarian or CA-Panvalet INCLUDE members as needed from their libraries. It analyzes the program and during the first pass builds various tables, including symbol tables. A second pass performs the required changes and produces the converted source code, COPY/INCLUDE members and output listing. A summary record containing information about the module is written to a VSAM Migration Database.

In addition to providing the required changes, MHtran-2 can do some other clean-up work on a program. This includes the ability to insert BLOCK CONTAINS ZERO for all files; flagging of console ACCEPT/DISPLAYs or converting them to SYSIN/SYSOUT; and displaying WHEN-COMPILED messages. MHtran-2 can also correct many syntax errors in existing programs, which the old compiler failed to detect. This allows them to be compiled successfully with the new, more stringent compiler.

What percentage of code will MHtran-2 translate?

The percentage of code that MHtran-2 translates will of course be different for each installation. However, the most common figures our users report is as follows: "MHtran-2 fully translates about 9 out of every 10 programs we submit. The remaining program usually has only 1 or 2 lines of code that are flagged for manual attention." In these cases MHtran-2 translates more than 99% of the total lines of code.

How does MHtran-2 ensure accuracy during the conversion?

To ensure that each program is completely and accurately translated, MHtran-2 signals lines that need review or manual intervention with a unique Exception Flag — an @ sign in column seven — that can be located easily and checked by the programmer. Explanatory messages help the programmer identify and resolve the problem. The translated program cannot be compiled successfully until all Exception Flags are resolved, eliminating incorrect compilation and execution.

How do programmers use MHtran-2?

For the first few programs, programmers will most likely examine the output reports of translated programs very carefully. Changes to the source code are shown in an over/under format with clear notations as to which lines were generated and which lines were deleted. Unchanged lines are printed as is. For a quick review of the entire program, a summary of all changed lines is presented in a table format at the end of each listing.

After becoming familiar with the translator output report, programmers will generally eliminate the close examination of the report and only search for any Exception Flags in the source code. An @ sign in column seven can be located easily with a "find" or "search" command. If none are found, the new source code can then be submitted for compilation.

In either case, the translator output report will still be produced and can be examined to fully understand each change that was made.

Support

What about support and assistance during the migration?

We feel our support services are as critical as the MHtran-2 product itself. Because migration is our business — not a sideline — we back MHtran-2 with a complete support network to ensure that your migration is a successful one.

Technical Expertise

The members of the MHtran-2 technical support team have over 20 years of IBM COBOL migration expertise, and they continue to research and develop innovations in migration technology. Their diverse backgrounds and hands-on experience enable them to tailor migration planning and problem-solving to your programming environment.

Timely Support

When you're in the middle of a migration, you can't wait days or weeks for answers. With MHtran-2, a Help-Line is available for questions and problems that are beyond the scope of the reference manual. Our team of migration specialists, and the answers you need, are just a phone call away.

Product Enhancements

Because we work closely with our clients, we are able to respond quickly to comments and suggestions they make regarding MHtran-2. Continual product enhancements ensure that you are getting the very latest in migration technology.

Consulting Services

In addition to comprehensive product support, we offer consulting services in every area of migration planning and project implementation:

  • Environment Analysis
  • Scheduling
  • Budgeting
  • Programmer and Management Training

It is this combination of outstanding product, combined with superb technical support and migration expertise that makes MHtran-2 the product of choice for your COBOL migration. That's the PRINCE Software advantage — an advantage that your organization can gain today.

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