A COBOL IDE: How to Find, Download and Use

An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a software tool that facilitates a programmer’s development work. In large organizations, a typical COBOL IDE is an ISPF editor on the Mainframe. To learn COBOL programming, an IDE is necessary, since it enables the developer to write, compile, run, and debug their code.

Finding a COBOL IDE

If you don’t have access to a Mainframe and you are interested in learning COBOL, one of the first things you will have to do is find a COBOL IDE to work with. As you practice creating new programs, you will need software that will compile and execute your code. Ideally, you want this to be as inexpensive as possible. As a result, you should look for an Open Source software which is free to download. A good website to look for this type of software is LaunchPad.net.

Downloading a COBOL IDE

A search in Launchpad for “Cobolide” results in OpenCobolIDE 4.7.6 as the first on a list of potential matches for that search. Once at the website for that software, you can download the setup file and the source package zip file into separate directories. The source package, when unzipped, contains many example COBOL programs.

The OpenCobolIDE


To use the IDE that you have just downloaded, go to the directory where you saved the setup file and double click on the file to start the installation process. Follow the prompts provided and, in the end, the OpenCobolIDE application will launch. From the source files that you downloaded, select one of the .cbl files under the testfiles directory. For example, select the HelloWorld COBOL source file and practice compiling and running it. When it runs successfully, it displays “Hello World” on the screen.


If you are interested in seeing a demo containing detailed directions for downloading this IDE, watch my YouTube video,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJMmwxDE4Lg&t=26s