Cobol specialist Micro Focus International has enhanced its Windows Cobol development tool to achieve full integration with Microsoft's .Net Framework.
Micro Focus Net Express with .Net is a new plug-in for Microsoft Visual Studio .Net 2003, giving users access to all .Net Framework features.
"Before this release, users could run Cobol applications but only as unmanaged code wrapped as COM objects," Raymond Gorman, Micro Focus technical services director at Micro Focus, told vnunet.com.
"With Net Express plugged in, applications are now integrated and managed with all other code using the Visual Studio user interface."
The potential market for Cobol migration is huge. Analyst Gartner estimates that 75 per cent of all business data is processed by Cobol applications.
Micro Focus' own estimate is 200 billion lines of Cobol application code in use, with this figure rising by five billion per annum.
The company described the move as a landmark in the continuing life of Cobol which would help bridge the gap between two computing generations.
Micro Focus already provides a portfolio of Cobol migration products, including web services-enabling applications and support for XML and Java 2 Enterprise Edition.
Last year it became a member of Microsoft's Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) programme. Microsoft said that VSIP plus its proven technology would make it quick and easy for Cobol customers to migrate to .Net.
The price of Net Express is £3,390. UK-based Micro Focus has around 130,000 Cobol developers using its products worldwide.
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