Microsoft Visual Studio 2017 users can now work with the old, familiar COBOL tools they are accustomed to using alongside Visual Studio now that Micro Focus has updated its Visual COBOL tools to work with the newest Microsoft Visual Studio releases. 

The updated Visual COBOL for Visual Studio 2017 tools provide continued COBOL integration with the latest release of Microsoft Visual Studio and smart editing and debugging tools for COBOL and .NET developers, including code analysis, IntelliSense, auto-complete, background parsing, code search and more. Also featured are fast composite app development capabilities using SmartLinkage, which enables COBOL integration with C# and other .NET languages, according to Micro Focus. The latest version also includes full access to the .Net framework with an object oriented (OO) COBOL implementation and a flexible architecture enabling COBOL compilation to MSIL for deployment to .NET, as well as additional support for Azure deployment.

Micro Focus announced the new capabilities on April 4, about a month after Microsoft updated its Visual Studio 2017 product line. Micro Focus' COBOL tools allow enterprises to continue to use and re-use their existing COBOL legacy applications and code even as they take their technologies into new directions.

Micro Focus has been building such tools for some 15 years for Microsoft Visual Studio users. 

"We're delighted to have Visual Studio partners like Micro Focus work closely with us to build and enhance the overall development experience of Microsoft Visual Studio 2017," Shawn Nandi, senior director of cloud app development and data marketing for Microsoft Corp., said in a statement. "COBOL-based systems are prevalent across the enterprise and Micro Focus Visual COBOL helps these organizations build and modernize their critical applications."

A spokesman for Micro Focus could not be reached for comment about the updated tools despite several attempts by ITPro.

Several versions of Microsoft Visual Studio 2017 were released to general availability on March 7 and continues to be used to develop apps for Android, iOS, Windows, web and the cloud.

Among the key improvements in the application are streamlined cloud development with built-in tools for integration with .NET Core, Azure applications, microservices, Docker containers, and more, according to Microsoft. Visual Studio is also built to be faster and leaner and includes an all-new installation regimen that allows users to install just what they need to do their work. 

The Microsoft Visual Studio Enterprise 2017 version gained new tools for programmers thanks to newly-included DevOps tools from Redgate Software that can be easily installed along with the suite. The Redgate Data Tools, which previously were available only as a separate add-on for Visual Studio users, are now included by Microsoft out of the box with the Visual Studio Enterprise 2017 version for the first time. 

Included in the Redgate Data Tools are ReadyRoll Core, which lets users develop, source control and better automate the deployment of SQL Server database changes alongside their application changes; SQL Prompt Core, which offers increased productivity with advanced Intellisense-style code completion; and SQL Search, which complements ongoing DevOps methodologies by allowing users to work more quickly and accurately with SQL. All three tools are included only in the Enterprise version of Visual Studio 2017. The SQL Search tool is also included in the Community and Professional versions of Visual Studio 2017.

Redgate, which has been offering Microsoft SQL Server tools for about 15 years, said its Redgate Data Tools give developers the ability to effectively extend DevOps processes to Microsoft SQL Server and Azure SQL databases as they build them.

The addition of the Redgate DevOps tools comes as more and more developers and their companies adopt DevOps methods and systems inside their operations to better meld development programs with IT operations, according to the company.