All About COBOL

Time for everyone’s favorite language: COBOL! Well, it’s not my favorite, and probably not your favorite, but it is important to PeopleSoft. Many core programs in HR use COBOL and will most likely stay COBOL for a while. Those COBOL programs are stable, fast, and once you compile you rarely have to touch them. Because COBOL is important to PeopleSoft, let’s talk about setting up the compiler, runtime, and learn how to compile COBOL programs.

Installation and Configuration


PeopleSoft delivers COBOL source files with some of the applications, but you need to install the COBOL compiler separately. Oracle will give you a license to MicroFocus, so you don’t need to buy your own. Oracle Support has a nice article on downloading MicroFocus and acquiring a license. As a PeopleSoft customer, a MicroFocus license is included with the product to compile COBOL programs. Keep in mind, you can only use the compiler for PeopleSoft programs!


After you install the compiler, you will need to install the Runtime License on any server were your compiled COBOL will run: process schedulers and application servers. To install the runtime, open a command prompt and navigate to the folder that contains

setupMF.exe. Run these commands:

  1. setupMF.exe e:\psoft\psft-mf—nx-as-license to install the license folder
  2. e:\psoft\pt-85x.xx (your path to PS_HOME)
  3. MFLMWin.exe -i to install the License Manager service.
  4. For Windows, you may need to change the security for MFLMWin.exe. Right-click on that file, select the Compatibility tab, and check the box for “Run this program as an administrator”
  5. In the Services panel, verify the “MicroFocus License Manager” service has started and set to start Automatically


Clients Are you on PeopleTools 8.53 or lower? You’ll still need a 32-bit client for COBOL. That means installing the 32-bit client on your process scheduler and app server (for the remote call COBOL programs).

Domain Configuration

If you need the 32-bit client on your process schedulers and app server, you’ll need to make sure the domains know where to find them. The simplest solution is to add the 32- bit client to the PATH in the

psappsrv.cfg and psprcs.cfg files. I added the client path the beginning of the PATH variable. For the psappsrv.cfg and psprcs.cfg files, change this setting to your 32-bit client path:

Add to PATH=e:\oracle\product\12.1.0\client_32;[existing entries]


COBOL PeopleSoft delivers scripts to simplify the compilation process. The scripts know about the decoupled homes and can compile all homes, or just your customizations. Under the PS_HOME\setup folder you’ll find the main script, cblbld.bat. Here is the basic usage for cblbld.bat:

  1. Set up your environment variables for MicroFocus and homes
  2. Tell the script where to compile
  3. Tell the script which homes to compile

The script will handle copying source files, compiling, and deploying to the CBLBINx folder. For example, let’s compile all the source COBOL in our demo environment:

set PS_HOME=e:\psoft\pt-file-8.5x.xx 
set PS_APP_HOME=e:\psoft\ 
set PS_CUST_HOME=e:\psoft\HR92DMO 
set COBROOT="e\:Program Files\MicroFocus\bin"

cd %PS_HOME%setup
cblbld.bat e: temp\compile

The last command will compile PS_HOME first and deploy and PeopleTools COBOL programs to PS_HOME\CBLBINx. Then, it will compile PS_APP_HOME source files and deploy to PS_APP_HOME\CBLBINx. Last, it will compile any source files in PS_CUST_HOME\src\cbl\base and deploy to PS_CUST_HOME\CBLBINx Let’s dig into this script to understand what is happening behind the scenes. The CBLBLD.bat script is powerful and can really help out when compiling programs.


The CBLBLD.bat script takes four parameters:

  1. Drive Letter
  2. Compile Directory
  3. Encoding (Optional)
  4. Directories to compile (Optional)

CBLBLD.bat assumes you have set the environment variables mentioned above so it knows where to grab the sources files for compilation. To compile only your custom COBOL source files, pass PS_CUST_HOME to CBLBLD.bat. For example:

cblbld.bat e: temp\compile PS_CUST_HOME 

You can also pass in PS_HOME, PS_APP_HOME or PS_CUST_APP_HOME to compile only those directories. The script uses the directory name to copy the COBOL sources files to the compile directory. Then, the script CBLBLD_MF.bat is called to start up MicroFocus and compile everything in the compile directory. The CBLBLD.bat script will call the CBLBLD_MF.bat script that will set up the directory and flags for the compiler. Then CBLBLD_MF.bat will call CBLMAKE.bat to compile everything in the and CBLBIN.bat to copy the .gnt, .int, and .exe files to the appropriate CBLBINx directory.


“But what if I modify a copy book that is used in lots of delivered programs? Do they compile if I only pass in PS_CUST_HOME?” The CBLBLD.bat script also calls the Perl script This Perl script will look at the files in your PS_CUST_HOME and look at PS_APP_HOME and PS_HOME to see if the copy books or programs you have modified to see if they are referenced by any delivered code. So, if you have modified a copy book (e.g, change an array size), this script will copy any program that uses the copy book to the Compile Directory. This makes the copy book change apply to all programs that use the copy book. The source files will still live in PS_APP_HOME or PS_HOME, but the compiled programs will be located in PS_CUST_HOME\CBLBINx.

There is a bug with the script. If you make a copy book change in a sub program, the script will only copy the sub program to the Compile Directory; it doesn’t look for the sub programs’ parent program. So, it can miss programs that use a copy book during the compile. Another part of the bug (or design) is that programs that run out of PS_APP_HOME or PS_HOME do not use the CBLBIN search path in psprcs.cfg to find .gnt files. This is how we found the bug in We had a program that needed an array increase. We modified a copy book, compiled, and re-ran the program. But, the program would still run in PS_APP_HOME\CBLBINx and ignore the new copy book in PS_CUST_HOME\CBLBINx. I filed an SR on that a few weeks ago; I’ll update the post when fix is posted.

UPDATE: December 1, 2015 The Oracle analyst I worked with agrees that the script does not account for the subprograms. When a fix is scheduled, I’ll post another update.

UPDATE: April 18, 2016 To address some of the issues with the script, but to also make COBOL source programs work better with selective adoption, I am starting to use a PS_APP_PATCH_HOME in our decoupled-home setup.

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