How to Meet ISPF User Needs with Eclipse-based Topaz Workbench
While ISPF is still the interface of choice for many mainframe experts, software is changing fast. Many experienced mainframe developers are finding they’re much more productive in tools like Compuware Topaz Workbench, an Eclipse-based IDE, that make it easier to advance mainframe applications and data in a digital world and also help those who are new to the mainframe become skilled and knowledgeable faster by stripping the mainframe of its esoteric complexities.
You can see some of the core features and functions of Topaz Workbench in the webcast replay of “Cool Things You Can Do to Mainstream the Mainframe Using Topaz Workbench” from our monthly “Did You Know?” series. Keep reading to learn about them here.
Modern Features of Topaz Workbench
Topaz Workbench provides an intuitive interface, enabling developers of all experience levels to initiate Compuware’s industry-leading developer tools, Abend-AID, File-AID, Hiperstation, Strobe and Xpediter as well as non-Compuware products and distributed solutions. But it also does much more.
1. Topaz Workbench Eclipse Perspectives
Topaz Workbench provides different perspectives to view the contents of the various Compuware products that integrate with the IDE. Perspectives offer pre-defined combinations of views and editors, which can be customized, but the primary perspective is Host Explorer.
Host Explorer consists of an editor powered by SlickEdit—which offers intelligent editing of COBOL, PL/I, Assembler and more for increased productivity—and several views. In the below image, the empty item in the middle is the editor. When you browse or edit items, they appear here.
The main difference between an editor and a view is that an editor does not have a “close” button. Another difference is that an editor can accommodate multiple items. For example, in an editor, you can have a data file, a JCL member, a source member and output from a job.
Views within a perspective can be dragged and dropped anywhere in the perspective. They can also be dragged and dropped to different monitors.
From time-to-time, you may find it necessary to reset your perspective. Resetting a perspective is quick and easy. Right-click on the perspective button, choose “Reset” and confirm. Note, this is the Host Explorer perspective, not the view.
2. Topaz Workbench Context Menus
Context menus provide access to commands commonly used in the selected view via right-click. Options will vary from product to functionality. Depending on where you are in the process, you will see a different context menu.
3. Topaz Workbench Host Explorer
Similar to ISPF menus, Host Explorer is essentially what you use to access the mainframe. Most of the tasks you’re used to doing in ISPF you can do through Host Explorer. But first, you need to have a Host Connection configured. Once you define the connection, you will have access to all resources within an LPAR.
The login dialog box is used to enter your TSO credentials to access the system to which you want to connect and the HCI connection associated with that system. When you expand a host, Topaz Workbench prompts you to login. Use your regular mainframe TSO ID and password. This prompt will not be displayed if you have previously saved your credentials.
Add File Filters
Accessing files through Host Explorer is very simple. Right-click to add a filter, the equivalent to ISPF 3.4 dataset search but much easier, and you can use several high-level qualifiers to provide naming conventions of files you’re looking for. Type in the high-level qualifier and click “OK.”
Next, using “Allocate Like…” will allow you to allocate files just like the one you have defined—this is a task you may currently be using ISPF to do, but it’s made more intuitive and faster by simply right-clicking your high-level qualifier using Host Explorer in Topaz Workbench.
Copy and Paste, Drag and Drop
You can open a file and copy and paste a member into your new dataset, or you can drag and drop. This can be done across LPARs, too, and it’s another task the Eclipse environment of Topaz Workbench makes easier to do than in ISPF.
Submitting JCL is also remarkably simple in Host Explorer. Right-click in the JCL and click “Submit” in the context menu. This job will copy sample data to datasets qualified by your ID. You can run this job whenever you want to restore your sample data. You get a banner indicating the job was successfully submitted and another indicating the job is complete. Click on the latter to bring up the output of that execution JCL in the Compuware Console view.
4. Topaz Workbench JES Explorer
Accessing the Topaz Workbench JES Explorer is like accessing the SDSF or IOF features of IBM Z. Connect to an LPAR you’re interested in viewing the output of and the output will be displayed. You can add and remove columns to these views. Sort by the time and quickly identify jobs you’ve recently submitted.
Topaz Workbench lets you select different queues, such as “Print” and “Execution/Input,” that can be unchecked to limit your view only to areas you’re interested in, but keep in mind you can’t uncheck both “Print” and “Execution/Input,” which is similar to going back and forth between “DA” and “ST” (or “H”) in SDSF.
JES Explorer Toolbar
There are various tools available in the JES Explorer Toolbar. When you hover over the tools, a tip displays the name. Most of them are self-explanatory, but you can press PF1 for more information. Double-click on your job to browse job output.
To display a list of the individual SYSOUT DDs in the job, you can use your mouse or keyboard:
- Click on the Expand button on the JES Explorer toolbar
- Press the right directional arrow on your keyboard
To return to the list of job names, click the back arrow or press the left directional arrow on your keyboard.
5. Topaz Workbench Project Explorer
The Project Explorer gives users a convenient way to organize resources like source, copybooks and JCL in a central location. The ability to contain all project information in one area is nice because you can share these code artifacts with teammates, and the artifacts don’t have to reside on a local desktop, though they can if you want them to.
Topaz for Total Test, Compuware’s automated unit test creation and execution tool, also uses the Project Explorer, so any total test cases you create using Topaz for Total Test will also be maintained in the Project Explorer.
Change isn’t easy, but changing from ISPF to an Eclipse-based IDE like Topaz Workbench is the only way mainframe teams will ever truly mainstream their mainframes. Watch the webcast replay of “Cool Things You Can Do to Mainstream the Mainframe Using Topaz Workbench” to learn how Topaz Workbench can help your team take mainframe development productivity to the next level.