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Defining Mainframe Transaction's Signature with an XML Schema; How To Convert Cobol Metadata

Converting Cobol metadata into an XML Schema using regular expressions processing

This method returns a Boolean true if the regex is found in the string. To produce an XML Schema, I write the header first:


outputfile.println("<?xml version=\"1.0\" encoding=\"UTF-8\"?>");
outputfile.println("<schema xmlns=\"http://www.w3.org/2001/
XMLSchema\"");
outputfile.println("targetNamespace=\http://www.ibm.com\"" +
"xmlns:router=\"http://www.ibm.com\">");
That header defines items such as the namespace of the schema and the encoding we will use. Refer to the XML Schema tutorial to learn about these clauses.

Once the header has been defined, the program parses each line of the copybook and checks if it's a complexType (that is a group) or a simpleType (that is a record containing a PIC clause). This is done searching pattern = compiler.compile("(\\sPIC)"); for the simpleType and any record not containing a PIC, VALUE, or blanks for the group. The reader can change this search pattern or add others in case the copybooks include other types of definitions. The second case is solved by searching for any record that does not contain any of (\\sPIC)|(\\sVALUE)|(^ *$)|(\\sCOPY\\s). The ^ *$ searches blank lines. The others search a blank or tab followed by PIC, VALUE, or COPY.

If a simpleType is detected I produce a schema definition with an element name equal to the name of the field in the copybook. The facet in the schema will depend on whether the field is alphanumeric or numeric (i.e., PIC X(n) or PIC 9(n)). In case of an alphanumeric string the clause will be:


<element name="name-of-the-field"><simpleType><restriction
base="string">
<length value="value -of-the-pic-clause"</length></restriction>
</simpleType></element>
In case of a numeric the clause will be:

<element name="name-of-the-field"><simpleType>
<restriction base="positiveInteger"><totalDigits value=
"value-of-the-pic-clause">
</totalDigits></restriction></simpleType></element>
In case of complexType I will nest the groups according to levels (01 first, then 03, then 05 etc.). I keep an account of levels opened, and close any complexType opened before, if needed (with the </sequence></complexType></element> syntax). This is done by the close method: if (level<lastLevel) close(complexTypes,level); and afterwards by writing a line in the form of

<element name="group-name"><complexType><sequence>.

This way, with a simple logic we can produce quite complex XML Schema nesting groups. For a full description of the java program see Listing 1.

An Example of Use
I designed the tool to produce a validation schema inside webMethods. webMethods is an Enterprise Integration environment that provides, as part of it functionality, a set of facilities for integrating mainframe applications and exposing them as services. I often need to validate complex data structures returned by the transactions invoked.

webMethods also allows importing an XML Schema to create a native webMethods Schema, which is useful for validating information that comes from the mainframe converted as XML data.

To show how to convert an XML Schema to a webMethods schema I will generate the XML Schema using the Cobol copybook (courses.cbl) seen before. First I will execute the java class using

java -cp .;jakarta-oro-2.0.8.jar CobolConverter courses. cbl courses.xsd

The schema generated (courses.xsd) can then be imported to a webMethods schema using a tool called webMethods Developer. Figure 1 shows a webMethods schema representation of the Cobol copybook imported.

Because many integration tools have XML Schema as a way to define metadata or validate XML data, representing Cobol metadata as schemas can be applied in multiple scenarios.

References

  • For Cobol programming and data definition see Advanced Cobol for Structured and Object-Oriented programming. Deward G.Brown. John Wiley & Sons Inc.
  • XML Schema Part 0: Primer, XML Schema Part 1: Structures, and XML Schema Part 2: Datatypes: www.w3.org
  • Mastering Regular Expressions. Jeffrey E. F. Friedl, O'Reilly.

More Stories By Edgardo Burin

Edgardo Burin works for ING Canada as a solution architect in integration projects using webMethods. He works in different projects integrating mainframe transactions, MQ services, and Oracle databases using webMethods. He has more than 10 years of experience managing infrastructure. His areas of expertise are in Oracle databases, integration, and service-oriented architecture.

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