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IBM Z Open Editor brings COBOL and PL/I language support to Microsoft Visual Studio Code

By Claire Nelson posted Thu September 19, 2019 12:00 AM

IBM Z Open Editor banner

We are excited to announce that IBM Z Open Editor is now available as a FREE, easily downloadable extension in Visual Studio Code's marketplace.

IBM Z Open Editor is perfect for developers interested in mainframe application development, especially those who prefer a modern development environment. By bringing IBM z/OS language support to one of today's most popular integrated development environments (IDE), Visual Studio Code (VS Code), IBM Z Open Editor gives developers the freedom to code in COBOL and PL/I using the same editor they can use for languages such as Java and JavaScript.

The difference is more than aesthetic: IBM Z Open Editor is backed by IBM's powerful language server protocol (LSP) for COBOL and PL/I. It can handle embedded statements for CICS, IMS, and DB2, and also support Job Control Language (JCL) syntax highlighting. For COBOL and PL/I, in addition to syntax highlighting, the LSP support means that our extension can also perform modern editing functions such as:

    • Code completion: When you start typing a command, variable, or paragraph name, a selection list of commands, defined variable names, and code snippets is displayed automatically.
      Code completion in IBM Z Open Editor.
                   Code completion in IBM Z Open Editor.

    • Copybook/Include resolution: To preview the contents of a copybook, move your mouse cursor over the copybook name in a COPY statement. You can also open the copybook in a separate editor by pressing Ctrl+Click (Windows) or Cmd+Click (Mac). Resolving PL/I include files works similarly.
      Copybook resolving in IBM Z Open Editor.
                   Copybook resolving in IBM Z Open Editor.

    • Peek References: A Results References view is displayed underneath the variable or paragraph. Click any result to go to that location in the file.
      Peek references in IBM Z Open Editor. Peek references in IBM Z Open Editor. Click on image to expand.

    • Outline View: Explore and navigate your COBOL and PL/I code efficiently with a complete sortable and interactive table of contents for your code. Use the Outline View to quickly jump to any part of your code by clicking its section header, or search for identifiers within the outline. Icons next to each Outline View item make it easy to identify procedures, loops, and more. 
      Outline explorer in IBM Z Open Editor.
                   Outline View explorer in IBM Z Open Editor.

    • Integrations to make life easier

        • Git: Quickly find and access recently edited code
          Colored bars highlight recently changed lines in an open editor window, while clicking on the SCM (Git) view will reveal and provide access to files that have been recently modified. If you have the GitLens extension, you can also view in-editor annotations to see the most recent commit modifying each line of code.

        • Zowe: Interact directly with your mainframe
          IBM Z Open Editor is designed to integrate seamlessly with the Visual Studio Code Extension for Zowe. The Visual Studio Code Extension for Zowe allows you to connect remotely to the IBM z/OS mainframe system, where you can manage your data sets, files, and jobs, and use IBM Z Open Editor to efficiently and effectively edit your COBOL and PL/I applications.

Curious to learn more about IBM Z Open Editor or try it out?

Find out more about IBM Z Open Editor at our About page, see a full list of features on our Documentation website, or go ahead and give it a try. Search in Visual Studio Code for "IBM Z Open Editor" and install it from there, or download the extension through the Visual Studio Code Marketplace here.

Bouquets or brickbats? We would love to hear from you!

Once you have tried out IBM Z Open Editor, we would love to hear what you think of it. You can give feedback in the following ways:

We are always looking for ways to improve our extension.

What's next?

IBM Z Open Editor follows Wazi, a technical preview that explored integrating mainframe application development capabilities into modern development environments and pipelines. Based on Wazi's success and user feedback, we made some of Wazi's capabilities available in IBM Z Open Editor. If you tried out Wazi while it was live, thank you! Your support and feedback is invaluable for improving IBM Z Open Editor. 

To learn more about the direction of IBM Z Open Editor, we invite everyone to attend the session "Open Source DevOps Elevated for the Enterprise" at the virtual summit on October 24, 2019. Offering manager Amit Tolmare will be presenting on IBM Z Open Editor as part of a larger discussion about DevOps in the Multicloud World. Registration is free, but space is limited. Reserve your spot now at:

To view the full range of IBM Z DevOps capabilities, please visit Stay tuned and check back often for more exciting features to come!

For questions or comments regarding this blog post, please reach out to offering manager Amit Tolmare at