CoSort 9.5 Workbench Preview

As mentioned in the previous newsletter, the beta release of CoSort 9.5.1 will ship in April. Among the highlights of this release is a new Graphical User Interface (GUI) for CoSort's Sort Control Language (SortCL) program. The new 'CoSort Workbench' is a plug-in to the Eclipse Integrated Development Envrionment (IDE) that helps users create, maintain, and execute SortCL jobs.

The new CoSort Workbench provides several new functional and ergonomic enhanchments, including:

  • New job wizards, form dialogs and syntax-aware script editing. CoSort's new Workbench leverages several different job presentation facilities within Eclipse to improve the SortCL job design experience. The wizards take you from source and metadata specification through the action phase of a job and the specification of one or more targets and formats. Wizard and form dialog results help populate and modify SortCL job scripts. A synatx-aware editor also faciliates valid script creation and change.

    The top window in the figure below shows the editor view of a join job script. You can invoke the join wizard (shown in the bottom left) from the main menu and within the script editor view.  The join wizard allows you to specify all details of a multi-table join action. The bottom right window shows the target field layout of this job script. Note that multiple input sources (shown in upper tabs) and output targets (shown in lower tabs) are presented in this view to enable you to specify file and table target layouts quickly and efficiently.

    (Click picture to enlarge)

  • ODBC-connected (DB table) data sources and targets. The introduction of ODBC source and target handling in CoSort 9.5 means that SortCL users can integrate, stage, transform, protect, and report against relational data stored in Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, SAP, MySQL, Sybase, and other tables. The Workbench uses the JDBC-ODBC bridge in the Eclipse Data Tools Platform (DTP) for viewing and selecting table data. 

    In the graphic below, the left panel shows the DTP view of the database. The middle panel displays the contents of the selected table, and the right panel is the Data Definition File (DDF) form editor that is used to modify the table metadata specifications for a CoSort job.

    (Click picture to enlarge)

  • Metadata discovery. Those familiar with CoSort know that you must define the structure of all input and output files in SortCL DDF syntax. This has traditionally been a manual field-by-field editing process, or the result of a command line conversion program like cob2ddf (for COBOL copybooks). For situations in which pre-existing metadata is not available, the new CoSort workbench helps users to visually define their field layouts and populate file and table metadata for use in SortCL jobs.

    The following screenshot shows how users can define fixed-position fields by moving sliders to the start and end of each field in a source data preview window. Once you add a field, the bottom spreadsheet view reflects the DDF specifications which you can then modify. For records with delimited fields, a column-based editor is provided instead, as sliders are unnecessary. A HEX view option facilitates the definition of binary data.

    (Click picture to enlarge)

  • Metadata conversion.  The process of bulk metadata and third-party sort script migration to CoSort's SortCL syntax has been modernized and automated in the Workbench. Wizards exist to translate both third-party data layouts into SortCL DDFs, and JCL sort parms into SortCL job scripts. An example of the former would be bulk COBOL copybook conversions to SortCL .ddf targets. There is a wizard to convert one or more metadata repositories or file headers into DDF. There is also a wizard to convert and import third-party sort specifications (e.g. DF-Sort for z/OS MVS or VSE) into SortCL job scripts.

    The conversion wizard shown below demonstrates the conversion of one or more JCL sort decks to SortCL job scripts. You can browse to identify the location of the parms, and then automatically convert them for use in SortCL. The middle window shows advanced options available for these conversions. The bottom window shows from left to right: project explorer files (including the source and target job scripts), an editor displaying the source job script, a display of the target job script, and a tree view of the components of the target job script.

    (Click picture to enlarge)
If you would like more information about, or would like to try CoSort 9.5 and/or the Workbench, please call 1-800-333-SORT,  email, or visit

Take Advantage of Other Eclipse Plug-ins 

Because the CoSort 9.5 Workbench is built on Eclipse, a wide array of plug-ins is available. These allow you to integrate the CoSort plug-in with invaluable tools like these:

BIRT, for Busines Intelligence and Reporting Tools, integrates reporting and business intelligence capabilities into your application. It provides core reporting features such as report layout, data accessibility, scripting, and a charting engine. BIRT users can use the output of SortCL jobs -- in CSV or XML format, for example -- to more rapidly customize reports from relevant data subsets.

DTP, the Data Tools Platform, enables the immediate use of relational database sources. The tools included provide features such as: in-memory representation of database definitions, query models, result sets, and objects; specifications for connectivity to data source drivers; data source management (e.g. adding and removing tables from a database); and, the ability to reformat, map and/or translate data, and act as an ETL tool. CoSort Workbench users can also use DTP to view table data and use its schema for job definition.

Team support for integration with Version Control Systems allows a development team to simultaneously work on a project remotely, and to browse and check out projects. It also supports the “Lock-Modify-Unlock Solution” and “Copy-Modify-Merge Solution” methods. Multiple version control systems are supported, including Subversion (SVN) and CVS.  These tools allow CoSort development teams to store SortCL job projects and DDF metadata in centralized network repositories so that project changes can be updated and synchronized, and changes can be saved for historical review.

Remote System Explorer (RSEprovides the ability to access and manage remote computer systems transparently under a single, consistent user interface within the Eclipse framework. In the CoSort Workbench for example, RSE allows users to source, target, and transfer files between hosts, perform remote searches, execute commands, and work with processes via protocols including dstore, SSH, SSL, and FTP connection types.

 A Brief History

Eclipse was originally started by IBM in the late 1990s in response to the need for a common development platform for all IBM products. IBM realized the value of having a complete set of tools in one environment or" workbench" that would work seamlessly together, This integrated development environment (IDE) allowed customers to work in, and build custom development and application environments, respectively.

In 2001, to facilitate developer adoption of the IDE, IBM decided to provide Eclipse with an open-source, royalty-free license. This allowed companies to use and include Eclipse in their own commercial products. The Eclipse Foundation was formed with the support of industry leaders like Borland, IBM, MERANT, QNX Software Systems, Rational Software, Red Hat, SuSE, TogetherSoft, and Webgain. This led to more commitments to support and use Eclipse to develop commercial products. The founding Strategic Developers and Strategic Consumers were Ericsson, HP, IBM, Intel, MontaVista Software, QNX, SAP, and Serena Software.

The foundation eventually established itself as a not-for-profit organization with its main goals to guide, implement, and share the development of open source Eclipse projects in a vendor-neutral environment. Skip McGaughey, spokesperson for Eclipse, said that this move would "create long-term opportunities for reuse, interoperation and innovation that enable both providers and consumers to take development tool technology to the next level in functionality, integration and usability."


Eclipse Today

Eclipse has proven to be a stable and mature development platform. It is widely used among commercial companies to create powerful applications -- not only for software development, but for diverse industries such as banking, automotive, medical and space exploration.

Eclipse maximizes developer productivity because it provides the framework applications need for development, debugging, and deployment.

The full Eclipse Software Development Kit (SDK) includes Eclipse projects (specifically the Platform), the Java Development Tools (JDT), and the Plug-in Development Environment (PDE).

Because it is written in Java, Eclipse supports most platforms and operating systems. However, Eclipse is not limited to Java; it supports several languages by adding those specific plug-in components.  

Eclipse itself was designed as a collection of components for extensibility. Besides the platform runtime kernel, nothing else is hard coded and all of the functionality is provided by plug-ins. All plug-ins are required to be developed under the OSGi framework implementation called Equinox, which provides a standardized environment for integrating existing code.

Although a lot of generic functionality is built into Eclipse, there is also an extensive list of plug-ins a customer can leverage, such as the Team Support features and Source Code Control options, which allow the developer to customize their environment and facilitate the development of new tools. 
For example, for an organization developing a new application, the Eclipse platform provides a central integration point for the application and can be split up into several development components within the organization that make the development of large-scale applications much easier.