At the end of February I was fortunate to attend the SHARE event in Fort Worth, Texas. During the week I met many industry peers interested in enterprise IT. Each day was filled with sessions about various topics including my favorite areas of DevOps, Application Development, IBM Z and Open Source. In addition, I had time to chat with several users of IBM Developer for z/OS (IDz) and demo some of the cool features available in IDz. And while I was doing so, I was keenly aware that additional helpful capabilities were almost ready; it was hard not to mention them. Keeping in mind the motto of “SHARE: it’s not an acronym, it’s what we do”, on IDz 14.2.2 release day, I would like to share some information about what is new in IDz 14.2.2.

Technology Preview

Copy and Paste, is such a simple and powerful feature that all computer software users, including application developers, have come to depend on. Did you know that it was invented by Mr Larry Tesler in the early 1980s? While copy and paste is extremely useful at times, it can cause problems in software applications. Having a duplicate set of instructions in several parts of the software source code can be a problem when those set of instructions require maintenance. Are you sure that you know all the locations in your application where those duplicated instructions exist? Wouldn’t it save time and be less error prone if those instructions were in one location? The Duplicate Code Detection (DCD) technology preview for COBOL helps to automatically discover the duplicate code from a large selection of source code so that redundancies can be appropriately flagged, justified, or eliminated. DCD provides a means for software developers to identify such redundancies, with the short-term goal of assessing the code quality of a large program, and ultimately the goal of refactoring the code.

If you use Installation Manager to install or update IDz, and you want to try the new technology preview, then make sure to select the Duplicate Code Detection [Technology Preview] option on the Features panel. In order to share your feedback with us login to the DCD Early Program site and then Submit comments here.

Debug

Creating and managing Debug profiles just got easier. The new z/OS Debugger Profiles view is now the central place for debug profile activation. Previously DTCN profiles, DTSP profiles, Remote CICS Application launch configurations, Remote Db2 Application launch configurations and Remote IMS Application launch configurations were all managed separately. For more information about this and other new Debug features see the blog titled What’s new in IBM z/OS Debugger v14.2.2.

z/OS Automated Unit Testing Framework (ZUnit)

As more users create unit tests for their mainframe applications, they continue to share with us their ideas for enhancement. Often times the feedback is useful for the RFE submitter as well as other users who just have not begun using this feature yet. Some recent Requests For Enhancement delivered in the area of ZUnit include:

  • The ability to Generate Test Cases for source stored in a Sequential data set
  • Support for COBOL programs with ENTRY statements
  • Improved filtering of recorded data for CICS Test Cases
  • For each output file used in a test, the ability to override the SuperC Compare Utility Options used for comparing actual output files to the expected output files
  • The ability to indicate a specific data element should be skipped during the evaluation of test results. This could be useful for data that contains date/time values.

Menu Manager

Another ongoing theme for the Continuous Delivery updates for IDz version 14.2 has been enhancing the Menu Manager feature. With the recent addition of new options on the Run Options page we decided to re-organize the controls in IDz version 14.2.2 to improve usability. This should make the process of creating Menu Manager actions quicker. Once the actions are created and subsequently run, we have also enhanced the output dialog where the results of an action can be shown. The output dialog is now non-modal. This allows the user to work on other tasks, such as accessing data sets, jobs and other files, editing source, etc. while at the same time making reference to the information provided in the menu manager action output dialog. In addition to making the output dialog non-model, we also added a new Open in Editor button to the dialog. This button can be used to copy the contents of the output dialog into an Eclipse text editor. This should also allow easy access to the results for further examination and processing.

Menu Manager actions can be created to prompt users for information prior to running the action. In previous versions if a user selected multiple resources and ran an action the prompted for information, the user would be prompted to provide information for each individual resource that was selected. This design provides the ultimate flexibility in the data being used for each resource. However, there are times when the same input data is desired for all the resources. Therefore, a new Apply to all selections option has been added to the Enter Parameters dialog prompt when multiple resources are selected for a single Menu Manager action.  This will allow the data entered in the dialog prompt to be re-used across all the resources that were selected. 

Search

IBM Developer for z/OS contains multiple Search capabilities. Remote z/OS Search is one and it provides the ability to search for data sets with a specific name and/or content. This is the default search used when a user right clicks on a resource in the Remote Systems view and selects the Search menu action. Another search feature in IDz is Remote z/OS File Search and it searches for data set contents similar to the ISPF Search-For request (ISPF option 3.14). Our user community has shared with us the fact that some companies would prefer Remote z/OS File Search as the default. In order to facilitate this choice, IDz 14.2.2 supports a new host environment variable to do just that: _RSE_JAVAOPTS="$_RSE_JAVAOPTS -DDEFAULT_REMOTE_ZOS_FILE_SEARCH=true"

Another new addition to the Search capabilities in IDz is the new toolbar icon labeled Edit and run a search query in the Remote z/OS Search Results view. This button (shown in the red circle in the image below) can be used to easily modify the criteria used for a particular search and quickly run the search again. This new feature can be combined with the Search History by clicking on the view menu control (shown in the blue circle in the image below), selecting a recently executed search result, and pressing the new toolbar icon to edit a recent search and re-run it.

Editors

In support of the CICS Transaction Server for z/OS, V5.6 open beta offering the editors have support for new CICS syntax checking and content assist.

The COBOL and PL/I editors have long provided the ability to hover over a COPY or INCLUDE statement and see the contents of the dependent file in a popup window. From there you can also click the Edit button in the popup toolbar to open the file for edit. However, until now the editing was done out of context. What I mean by that is any compile options or other editor configuration options that were associated with the original program being edited were not associated with the copybook/include file when it was opened for edit. In IDz version 14.2.2 this information is carried forward to the copybook/include file, essentially associating the original program being edited with the dependent file for an improved editing experience.

A few other enhancement ideas that our users shared in the editor area have also been delivered in this update, they include:

  • Renumber action for COBOL now supports both areas (column 1 and column 73)
  • The replacement character ‘:’ will not be marked as invalid syntax for COBOL copybook parsing. It is the most commonly used replacement character for COPY REPLACING
  • Validation that characters entered in the COBOL or PL/I editors can be transferred to the host correctly, for Git controlled COBOL and PL/I resources, when the zos-working-tree-encoding attribute has been specified as a remote code page

Dependency Based Build

Included as part of IBM Developer for z/OS Enterprise Edition (IDzEE) is IBM Dependency Based Build (DBB). In this latest continuous delivery update DBB has been updated to version 1.0.8. For more information about the new and noteworthy features and samples it provides see the DBB Knowledge Center. Included as part of IBM Dependency Based Build is IBM Z Open Automation Utilities, and it has also been updated. For more information about adding data sets to a zip/archive file and other useful features in version 1.0.2 see the ZOAU Knowledge Center and this blog. From within the IDzEE client when running a DBB User Build the results dialog contains a new Show Build Report button that allows the build report to easily be opened in a web browser.

Miscellaneous

Since IDzEE has a different licensing mechanism than standard IDz, version 14.2.2 now displays VU License and VU Offering properties in the Properties view when a user selects MVS Files from the Remote Systems view. These new property values make it easy to verify license handling for IDzEE and Application Delivery Foundation for z/OS is configured properly.

The Remote Systems view can now also be configured to connect to z/OS using an SSH Terminal. This new option is disabled by default. If you would like to enable this new feature, see the z/OS Unix Shells and Terminals blog for more information.

Another addition related to the Remote Systems view is the new JES Spool Outline view which provides a structured way to view and navigate job output content. See the Introducing the JES Spool Outline view blog for more details about the features it provides.

When IDz 14.2 was first released back in September of 2019 my blog described the Personalization Questionnaire and requested our users share their feedback about settings we should add to it. One bit of feedback we received was that some companies were interested in disabling the questionnaire since their policy is that one central group of individuals are responsible for workspace preference setting for all users. In support of that request IDz 14.2.1.1 recognizes a new eclipse.ini parameter -DdisablePersonalizationQuestionnaire=true and does not show the questionnaire on start up.

Speaking of the eclipse.ini file, we have added a new JVM argument -Xgc:concurrentScavenge that should reduce UI delays due to Java garbage collection. See this blog for the technical details of the Concurrent Scavenge (CS) Garbage Collection (GC) policy.
 

Conclusion

The next SHARE event is planned for August 2 – 7 in Boston, MA. Hopefully I will be able to attend that event as well. If so, then I will be sure to share these latest IDz features with the attendees. Since there are several months between now and then, I suspect there will be even more information to share in addition to what I described above.

Do you have an IDz enhancement idea? If so, then please share it with us. Just go to the RFE Community and submit a Request For Enhancement.

Finally I wanted to mention that the Fix list for IDz has also been updated. I know that some of you have shared with me your interest in this information.

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