Understanding COBOL Cross-Compile

CloudFrame’s Relocate product is used to cross-compile COBOL systems in executable Java bytecode.  When we talk about cross-compile, some may think it’s synonymous with trans-compile. That isn’t the case, as the two concepts are slightly different. This article explains some of the basics.

Cross-compile isn’t the same as Trans-Compile.

Cross-compiling and trans-compiling are two techniques used in the field of software development to enable the creation of code that can run on different platforms or architectures. While both techniques involve compiling code for a target platform that is different from the one it was originally written for, they differ in how they achieve this and the types of platforms they can support.

Cross-compiling refers to the process of compiling code for a target platform that has a different architecture from the one it was initially written for. For example, a programmer might use cross-compiling to create a binary or executable module that can run on an ARM-based device, such as a smartphone, from a computer with an Intel processor. This is often done to take advantage of a particular platform’s specific features or performance characteristics or to create software that can run on a wide range of devices.

Trans-compiling, on the other hand, refers to the process of compiling code from one programming language into another. This is often done to enable the use of code written in one language on platforms that do not natively support it or to take advantage of the specific features or syntax of another language. For example, a programmer might use trans-compiling to convert code written in Python into JavaScript so that it can be run in a web browser.

In summary, cross-compiling is used to compile code for a target platform with a different architecture. In contrast, trans-compiling is used to convert code from one programming language into another. Both techniques can help create software that can run on a wide range of platforms or devices, but they serve different purposes and involve different processes.

CloudFrame deliberately cross-compiles COBOL into Java bytecode to enable that executable to 
execute wherever a Java Virtual Machine can run.  That makes cross-compiled COBOL applications portable to the cloud, Linux, or the IBM specialty processor, zIIP (Relocate produces Java that is zIIP-eligible).

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