Getting started


All the screenshots were taken on Gnome 3 desktop. You will have different looks and feels on other operating systems or desktop environments.

OpenCobolIDE is simple and lightweight IDE. It works on a single file basis (i.e. it has no concept of project): you create/open a file, compile it then run it.


This is the first window you will see when running OpenCobolIDE, called the home page. From there you can create new files or open existing one. You can also access the application menu by right clicking on any empty area.

Create a new file

  • click on New
  • the following dialog should appear:
  • fill up the following information:

    • Type:

      Specify the type of file to create. Depending on your choice the default code template that is created will changed. Note that you can changed the file type later on after creating the file.

      You can choose from:

      • program:

        A program is an executable. When compiled, it produces an .exe on Windows and an executable binary file on GNU/Linux and Mac OSX.

      • module:

        A module or subprogram is a library, a list of procedures that can be shared among other modules/programs. When compiled, it produces a dynamically linked library (.dll) on Windows and a shared object (.so) on GNU/Linux and Mac OSX.

      • empty:

        create an empty file.

    • Name:

      file name without extension (you can choose the extension in the drop down list)

    • Directory:

      directory where the file will be created.


The source code of a module must be located in the same directory as the calling program’s source code to work properly.

Open a file

Simply click on Open or choose a file in the recent files list.


The recent files list have a context menu that let you remove a file or clear the entire list.

The main window

Here is the main window of OpenCobolIDE:


It is made up of 5 distinct parts:

  1. menu and toolbar zone:

    The menu contains all the actions that can be performed in the application. Note that the menu is hidden when you switch to the minimal perspective. In that case, you can show it by right clicking next to the last editor tab (in the empty area).

  2. code editors tab widget:

    This is where you type your code.

  3. the Navigation panel (movable and closable):

    This panel shows the document structure. It is fully synced with the code folding panel (inside the current editor).

  4. the Log panel (movable and closable):

    This panel shows the list of errors found in your program and you program output.

    It is made up of the following tabs:

    • Issues: the list of issues

    • Output: the program output (when you run it).


      The output console is interactive and accepts stdin but does not support COBOL SCREEN SECTION. If you’re using the screen section, you should run your program in an external terminal (Preferences->Build And Run)

  5. the status bar:

    The status bar shows menu/actions description on the left and current editor information on the right (free/fixed format, cursor position, file encoding).

Compile a file

To compile a file, press F8 or press the compile button.

This will compile the current file as well as its dependencies.

You can double click on an entry in the issues table to quickly go to the problematic line in the editor (if the file hasn’t been open, OpenCobolIDE will gently open it for you).

To change the program type you must press the down arrow next to the compile button. Doing this will reveal a drop down menu where you can choose the program type:

Run a compiled program

Press F5 or click the run button (inside the editor) to run the file.

The program will run in the Output window which is interactive (support for stdin has been tested and works with the ACCEPT keyword).


It will recompile the file and all its dependencies before running the compiled program.