SonarCloud | Advanced setup | Languages | COBOL

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Language-Specific Properties

You can discover and update the COBOL-specific properties in the project Administration > General Settings > Languages > Cobol.

Source code extraction

In order to analyze your source code with SonarCloud, you need to first extract it onto a filesystem. You can use your own tool or an open-source tool; SonarSource does not provide any connectors or source code extraction tools.

Advanced Configuration

Defining Source Code Format

The supported source code formats are:

  • Fixed format
  • Free format
  • Variable format

To set the format, go to Project Administration > General Settings > Languages > Cobol and set the Source format property.

The fixed format has three main areas:

Area1 | Area2                                           | Area3
000100* MY COMMENT
000200 PROGRAM-ID. HELLOWORLD.                          *xxx
100000 PROCEDURE DIVISION.                              *yyy
100200 START.
100500 STOP RUN.

Areas #1 and #3 contain non-significant characters. Area #2 contains the source code. The first character of Area #2 is the Indicator Area, which has a special meaning (for example, * means that the line is a comment line, D means that the line is only taken into account in debug mode, etc.).

The free format:

Area1 | Area2
        STOP RUN.

The Indicator Area that has a special meaning (for instance * means that the line is a comment line, D means that the line in only taken into account in debug mode, etc.) is located at column 0. The size of the source code area is not limited.

The variable format is also supported: it's similar to the fixed format but without Area #3.

Defining COBOL Dialect

Go to Project Administration > General Settings > Languages > Cobol and set the Dialect property.

COBOL analysis supports the following dialects:

  • bull-gcos-cobol
  • hp-tandem-cobol
  • ibm-os/vs-cobol
  • ibm-ile-cobol
  • ibm-cobol/ii
  • ibm-cobol/400
  • ibm-enterprise-cobol
  • microfocus-cobol
  • microfocus-acucobol-gt-cobol
  • opencobol/cobol-it

Making Copybooks Available to the Analysis

Copybooks are, by definition, COBOL files that are not syntactically valid by themselves. However, copybooks are usually needed to properly parse COBOL programs. Thus, paths to the copybooks must be listed through the sonar.cobol.copy.directories property.

Raising Issues Against Copybooks

To have copybooks imported into a project, and issues logged against them, the copybook directories must be added to sonar.sources AND the copybook file suffixes must be added to sonar.cobol.file.suffixes. E.G.:


In the case where a number of projects share a common set of copybooks, it may not be desirable to increment each project’s technical debt with the issues from the common copybooks. In such cases, the directory holding the common copybooks should be listed in sonar.cobol.copy.directories (as before) but left out of sonar.sources, for example:


Analyzing without file suffixes

Note that it is possible to analyze a COBOL project without file suffixes. To do this, remove the two suffix-related properties from your configuration and substitute the following setting:


Switching Off Issues

There are three ways to switch off issues:

  • Flagging issues as false positive
  • Ignoring the issues
  • Using the NOSONAR tag. To switch off an issue, place the NOSONAR tag in a comment line located right before the line containing the issue. Example:

* NOSONAR, in such case call to GO TO is tolerated, blabla...

ACUCOBOL-GT Source Code Control Directives

COBOL analysis supports the ACUCOBOL-GT’s Source Code Control directives. This mechanism allows you to conditionally modify the program at compile time by excluding or including lines. This can be used to maintain different versions of the program, perhaps to support different machine environments.

The -Si (include) flag controls the actions of the source code control system. It must be followed by an argument that specifies a pattern that the compiler will search for in the Identification Area of each source line. If the pattern is found, then the line will be included in the source program, even if it is a comment line. However, if the pattern is immediately preceded by an exclamation point, then the line will be excluded from the source (i.e., commented out).

The -Sx (exclude) flag works the same way except that its meaning is reversed (lines with the pattern will be commented out and lines with a preceding exclamation point will be included).

For example, suppose a program is being maintained for both the UNIX and VMS environments. The following piece of code is in the program:

*MOVE "/etc/helpfile" TO FILE-NAME.     UNX

This program fragment is ready to be compiled for the VMS system. If a UNIX version is desired, then the following flags will correct the source during compilation:


Please consult the ACUCOBOL-GT documentation for more on the mechanism.

There are two ways in SonarQube to specify the list of ACUCOBOL-GT flags to be used in order to preprocess the source code. The first option is to define a list of global flags which will be used to preprocess all source files. This can be done in the Administration > General Settings > Languages > Cobol > Preprocessor.

The second option is to provide a list of relative paths (with help of the sonar.cobol.acucobol.preprocessor.directives.directories property) which contain the list of flags to be used for each COBOL source file. Let’s take a simple example. If a file MY_PROGRAM.CBL is going to be processed, the SonarQube ACUCOBOL-GT preprocessor will try to find a file MY_PROGRAM.CMD. If this file is found, then the flags contained in this file are used to preprocess the program MY_PROGRAM.CBL. If the file MY_PROGRAM.CMD doesn’t exist, then the preprocessor will use the content of the file DEFAULT.CMD, if it exists.

Microfocus Compiler Constants

If your code takes advantage of conditional compilation features provided by Microfocus, you may have to configure compiler constants for your analysis.

For example, if your COBOL code looks like this:

      $IF myconstant DEFINED
       PROGRAM-ID. x.
      $IF otherconstant DEFINED
       PROGRAM-ID. y.

Go to Project Administration > General Settings > Languages > Cobol and declare each constant by name with an associated value.

Defining the constant via sonar.cobol.compilationConstant.[constant name here] in is deprecated since version 4.5 of the COBOL analyzer.

Database Catalog (DB2)

COBOL analysis offers rules which target embedded SQL statements and require the analyzer to have knowledge of the database catalog (for example, the primary key column(s) of a given table). These rules will raise issues only if the database catalog is provided for the analysis. For the moment, this is available only for IBM DB2 (z/OS) catalogs, and the catalog must be provided via a set of CSV ("Comma Separated Values") files.

These rules rely on two analysis properties:

sonar.cobol.sql.catalog.csv.pathrelative path of the directory containing CSV files for the database catalog
sonar.cobol.sql.catalog.defaultSchemacomma-separated list of default database schemas used in embedded SQL statements

sonar.cobol.sql.catalog.csv.path should define a directory that contains 8 CSV files. Each of these CSV files contains data for a specific DB2 catalog table and is named after it. The following table lists the required files and their respective mandatory columns. Additional columns may be listed, but will be ignored:

TableFile nameRequired Columns

The CSV format is the following:

  • Each file must be named for the table it represents.
  • The first line must contain the names of the columns.
  • The order of the columns is not meaningful.
  • Fields are comma-delimited.
  • If a field contains a comma, then its value must be surrounded by double quotes (").
  • If a field that is surrounded by double quotes contains a double quote character ("), then this character must be doubled ("").

Example for SYSVIEWS.csv:

USER1,VIEW1,select x from table1
USER1,VIEW2,"select x, y from table1"
USER1,VIEW3,"select x, ""y"" from table1"

The UNLOAD DB2 utility with the DELIMITED option should produce the required files except for the column names on the first line.

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