CMPS 340 (File Processing)
Compiling, linking, and running COBOL programs on the VMS operating system

For the purposes of illustration, we assume here that a file named JUNK.COB contains the source code of a COBOL program. (As is suggested by this name, ".COB" is the standard extension (under VMS) for a file containing COBOL source code.)

To compile this program on VMS, issue the command


(User input is shown in bold. The dollar sign is the command line prompt given by DCL ("DEC Command Language"), which is VMS's command line interface.)

Notice that you need not include the extension ".COB" in the file name, although you may.

More often than not, you will want a listing of your source code to be produced during compilation. (In particular, a listing includes messages identifying any syntax errors.) In that case, you should use the qualifier LIS with the COBOL command, as follows:


The listing will be written into the file JUNK.LIS.

If compilation results in no errors, "object code" will be written into the file JUNK.OBJ.

Once you have an object code file, you are ready for "linking". To link, you issue the command


(You need not include the extension ".OBJ".) The result of linking is an "executable file", JUNK.EXE.

To run the executable file, issue the command


(As expected, the extension ".EXE" can be omitted.)

A few points deserve mention. Firstly, if you are using the language-sensitive editor (LSE) (available on TIGER), you can compile from "within it", and it will help you find your syntax errors very easily. In that case, you needn't make use of the COBOL command for compiling. However (from what students tell me), you can't link from within the editor.

Secondly, it may not be clear to you why the linking step is necessary. As you probably learned in CMPS 250, the purpose of linking is to make a single executable code file from the object code file(s) corresponding to your program's (one or more) compilation units. If your program has only one compilation unit (as in the example above), linking is a formality. If your program has two or more compilation units, then linking actually does something useful! In COBOL, subprograms are compiled separately from "main" programs. If, for example, we had a main program in JUNK.COB and two subprograms in GARBAGE.COB and REFUSE.COB, we would compile them separately (resulting in the object files JUNK.OBJ, GARBAGE.OBJ, and REFUSE.OBJ) and then we would produce an executable file by using the command


Note that the main program should be listed first, followed by any subprograms, and that the name of the generated executable will correspond to the main program. In this case, it would be JUNK.EXE.

Lastly, if it is your wont, you can take advantage of the fact that the compile/link/run sequence can be "automated" using a DCL script (a list of DCL commands placed in a file having a ".COM" extension).