Acucorp ships new COBOL tool family
Delay provides time to tune features; run-time pricing
COBOL compiler supplier Acucorp has shipped its 5.2.2
version of its extend5 family of COBOL development tools, including
AcuCOBOL-GT, the COBOL compiler for the HP 3000 that includes MPE
nuances and provides a path toward other environments.
The software includes a -Cp option on the
compiler, which allows AcuCOBOL-GT to accept the non-ANSI features of
3000s COBOL II, such as $IF, $COMMENT, $PREPROCESSOR and
$INCLUDE directives and macro calls with parameters. It also supports
COBOL II intrinsic functions defined in the file hpcobol.h, and so
provides direct access to the TurboIMAGE and VPlus interfaces.
The company announced one year ago it would be
shipping its software, but found that the HP announcement of last
November offered a reason and an opportunity to hold back on the
product for additional features and tuning.
After the announcement we got a sharp upturn in
interest in both the quantity and the intensity, said Business
Development Manager Joe Sieley. We got a lot of input about
doing a number of things that would help people homestead or begin to
convert in anticipation of a transition strategy off the
Acucorps compiler differs in two notable ways
from the COBOL II model: it generates platform-independent portable
object code, and relies on run-time modules licensed per user.
Engineer Chuck Edgin asserted that the finished code, while not
native like COBOL II, doesnt suffer from performance
The speed of your application is usually the
speed of your disk access, Edgin said. We find
performance differences between our run time environment versus
native executables are insignificant. The company doesnt
have benchmark statistics, but it has benefited from working closely
with SIG-COBOL co-chair Jeanette Nutsford, as well as HPs Bill
Bennett and language labs lead Randy Roten.
Company officials said HPs new direction away
from the 3000 market hasnt spooked the customer base, and it
sees as much opportunity than before, if not more.
A lot of folks are not looking to stampede off
the box today, Sieley said. We did interviews with the
beta testers, and asked them if theyd want us to release later,
and implement some of things theyve been asking for. The
majority of them said, Do it right, and well wait, and
here are the things wed like to see. We decided to
implement some of those things.
Now AcuCOBOL has a KSAM file interface, but its
always had its own file system, which has been better tuned for the
HP 3000. The software takes advantage of AcuBench, a GUI-based
developed environment under Windows that can develop graphical
screens and manage projects. AcuBench can compile locally or place
compiled objects automatically on an HP 3000.
During the last year of development, the long-awaited
COBOL standard has been ratified, giving the company a new set of
features to shoot for in subsequent releases. HP 3000 customers
wont ever see the new COBOL commands, so third party options
like Acucorps give them a way to move toward the future.
The ability to convert COBOL II to new COBOL is
very desirable to some people, Sieley said, as opposed to
Im going to switch COBOLs at the same time as I switch
platforms, a bit of a double whammy. New standard
support, which was only finalized in the week Acucorp started sending
out AcuCOBOL-GT, is not necessarily one of those features folks
want right out of the chute.
Migration-bound customers and software partners are
among the primary targets for the new compiler. Demand Wave
Solutions, a 3000 ISV formerly known as SATCOM with order fulfillment
services and software, recently selected Acucorp as the COBOL vendor
of choice in a migration project that will move its BOSSgold order
management system from the HP 3000 to the HP 9000.
Demand Wave was looking for new places to market its
solution. Software from ScreenJet Ltd. that integrates with
AcuCOBOL-GT will make the transition possible. We knew we
wanted to expand into other markets, and in order to do that, we
needed to migrate this version of BOSSgold from the HP e3000,
said Demand Wave COO Martin Vaughn. Acucorp and ScreenJet
provided us with all the tools necessary to complete the migration
successfully and, ultimately, increase our customer base and revenue
Homesteading customers also have a new option to
continue using COBOL applications with a compiler that will be
updated. Developers now have a choice as to whether they
maintain their applications on the existing HP e3000 hardware, or
move them to another platform, said Acucorps HP e3000
Specialist Stephen Hjerpe.
Run time costs for the solution have made the company
careful about quoting the price for its solutions to the press, since
the expense of paying for concurrent users is new to the MPE
community. Company officials would only report that the list
price for the ACUCOBOL-GT development system starts at $1,500, as
does the list price for AcuBench. A Windows 2000 10-user deployment
license is $800. Please keep in mind that Acucorp offers a number of
special pricing programs for service providers, resellers and
independent software vendors depending on such variables as the
modules required, the number of users and the desired
Competitors at HP World were touting their
non-runtime licensing policy as a key differentiator to the Acucorp
prices, something 3000 customers wouldnt have to budget extra
for. Acucorp was confident the extra expense is worth it.
Weve got a business model
difference, said Sieley. There is a remarkable amount of
value in the run-time model. This distribution comes with a debugger,
a file system, its portable, scalable, and very high
performance. Were got 4,000 customers worldwide, including
1,000 ISVs. It allows them to make money because its