Micro Focus Plc has addressed one of the main shortcomings of its Object Cobol software, announced at its user conference in May, with the news that it will be releasing a Unix version of the product (CI No 2,524). The company has been more or less forced into the announcement, with few other product or […]
Micro Focus Plc has addressed one of the main shortcomings of its Object Cobol software, announced at its user conference in May, with the news that it will be releasing a Unix version of the product (CI No 2,524). The company has been more or less forced into the announcement, with few other product or pricing details having been decided, by the number of customers asking if there would be a Unix-based version of Object Cobol. So far it is available only under Windows and OS/2 as a 16-bit add-on to the Micro Focus Cobol Workbench. Object Cobol for Unix, when it finally ships next year, will also be something of an add-on product, rather than a leap into a total object environment, since the emphasis of the company’s object-based development is firmly on keeping it compatible with the existing Cobol environment. Stuart McGill, marketing manager at Micro Focus, says the bottom line is that there are a lot of Cobol programmers out there and although they, and the companies they work for, want to take advantage of new technologies, particularly Unix-based client-server developments, they also want to exploit their existing experience. So Micro Focus is treating Object Cobol as an extension to Cobol syntax, enabling it to support procedural C dialects. McGill points out that most programming in C++ consists of C++ wrappers, and an awful lot of work is still being done in C. The aim is to provide object capabilities, he says, and to enable customers to move into an object environment at their own pace. At the moment, and for some time to come, the mainstay of the Micro Focus product line will continue to be its core Cobol and Cobol Workbench product suites, but by 1997, the company aims to have a full-blown object-based equivalent of Workbench, with all the surrounding tools and support. The company, faced with a fall-off in growth in its bread and butter market for mainframe compilers, is now putting a lot of faith in the object market. Object Cobol for Unix will be available initially for the RS/6000 and Santa Cruz Operation Inc Unix on iAPX-86 hardware, with more details and beta releases out at the user conference next May. The company says the Unix roll-out after that will depend on what customers want most, but it is already involved in discussions with European suppliers Compagnie des Machines Bull SA, Siemens Nixdorf Informationssyteme AG and ICL Plc. In the meantime, a big pricing overhaul is due, not just for Object Cobol for Unix, which is highly unlikely to be priced in the same way as the $40 add-on option of its Windows and OS/2 counterparts, but right across the company’s products as they are strategically shifted into the 32-bit environment in the next few months.