Reading COBOL Layouts:

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This tutorial on how to read a COBOL layout was written specifically for customers of Disc Interchange Service Company who have had a conversion performed and have received a COBOL layout with the data.  It is intended to give you enough information to read most simple layouts.  It does not cover all topics or everything you would find in a complex layout, and it is intended to explain COBOL layouts only so you can use your converted data, not so you can write COBOL programs.  If you need more detail, please refer to one of the many fine COBOL books available.

Most COBOL data files and most of the conversions DISC performs originate on EBCDIC machines, so our discussion assumes an EBCDIC platform.  We will discuss some EBCDIC to ASCII conversion issues.

This tutorial teaches mostly by example, and progresses from basic rules to simple layouts to more complex layouts.  Later examples build on previous examples. To read the article from the beginning, click on Part 1 below.  If you only want to review a specific topic, click on the one of interest in the index below.

This tutorial consists of the following 7 sections:
Part 1 COBOL Basics Introduces you to the elements of a COBOL record layout.
Part 2 Simple COBOL Layouts Presents some simple COBOL layouts and introduces the concept of groups.
Part 3 Redefined Fields Discusses what redefined fields are and how they are used.
Part 4 Numeric Fields Discusses several types of character and binary numeric fields, and the handling of signs and decimal points.
Part 5 Tables and Occurs Introduces tables and the OCCURS and OCCURS DEPENDING ON clauses.
Part 6 Redefined Records Discusses redefined records and multiple record types in a file.
Part 7 Conclusion Conclusion, and notes from the author.

Additional Information

For more articles on data conversion, see our TechTalk Index.

Our COBOL Conversion Services

Disc Interchange Service Company's primary business is converting mainframe COBOL files.  From the simplest mailing list to the most complex financial data, we have the tools to properly convert and Q.C. your files efficiently and accurately.  With over 32 years of experience with thousands of files, we have the knowledge to catch problems with the data before they cause you grief.

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