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Programming with TinyCobol

If you need a graphical user interface (GUI), there is a very simple interface between TinyCobol and tcl/tk. You just update from my CVS server and look for the diretory test.code/00_FernandoWuthstrack/tcl. There you will find a couple examples. But you can also read the following article, distributed as

You can debug Cobol programs compiled by the TinyCobol compiler with a nice gdb front-end called DDD (Data Display Debugger). Read the article I have written for a short tutorial in portuguese (translators welcome!), distributed as a pdf file (660Kb), or the original OOo source (410Kb). This last requires 2.0 or 1.9.x beta.

Here is the original README for the compiler, when it was first released.

This is not a full-featured product, but rather historic sources of my own tool: a Cobol compiler I have done from scratch and found it floating around my "spare parts" box. It may be useful as a skeleton for a new projet, or just a grab bag of ideas for your own work. This is supposed to work with my "HandTerm" and "MT-100" microterminals, some hardware projects I used to manufacture some years ago¸ but it's not produced anymore.

I wouldn't even try to compile this sources again, because it's so dependent on the enviroment (microterminal, msdos, and specific C compiler) and I don't remeber how to make all things go smooth. Please don't ask me how to remake this.

Included there is a full compiler (almost ANS 76 compliant, if I remember well), the runtime library, and a nice source-level debugger written mostly in prolog. When compiled and linked, the object is a TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) program for msdos.

Now our TinyCobol is usable and have its own homepage at As of October, 2001, our mailing list have about 180 subscribers and about a dozen people contributed to our code. A derivative of TinyCobol exists, the OpenCobol compiler, maintained by Keisuke Nishida, who is also a good contributor of our project.

Programmer tools

If you want to create a barebones interface between TinyCobol and tcl/tk, the simplest tool with enough flexibility to be useful is tctcl. Here is the latest release (tctcl-20040415.tar.gz). There is no documentation, but you may find a tutorial written by Fernando Wuthstrack, in (brazilian portuguese).

I have been writing several add-on tools for our cobol compiler. One of them is TCGUI, a visual editor and GUI generator. It outputs a copybook that you will include in your cobol source and have a graphical screen, instead of the traditional screen section.


TCGUI is a visual screen editor that allows you to introduce several tcl/tk widgets, without the need to know anything about tcl, only cobol. It generates a copybook with the definitions and a compressed tcl/tk program source that will show the GUI at execution time. The figure above show the editor tool with a entry box selected. The contents entered by the user will be available at a cobol variable that you choose (in this example, NAME).


Several widget attributes may be modified during the design phase, just by clicking at a widget and filling the form at editor's main window. The attributes may also be modified by the cobol program during runtime.


TCGUI may be found here. It requires tcl/tk 8.X.Y (tested with 8.0.0 and 8.3.2), and run under virtually any version of TinyCobol.

Other TinyCobol sites

  • Our collaborator Keiishi Takahashi maintain a web site with interesting examples of tcl/tk+Cobol code. He also builds and keeps updated several TinyCobol RPMs for rpm-enabled distros. Visit Keiishi's site.
  • OpenCobol is a derivative of TinyCobol written and maintained by Keisuke Nishida and some of his friends at Japan. He have made a good job of keeping it simple to install and easy to use.
  • The Cobol Report is an online magazine with many resources on free cobol, articles and other contents. I have written a couple of articles to them, and Tim Josling, leader of CobolForGcc project presents there free cobol matters frequently.

Last updated: 2006/10/12 10:50:10