Micro Focus Plc, as reported briefly (CI No 1,119), has launched a human interface management system called the Dialog System for the development of Cobol applications that support Presentation Manager character mode and are consistent with IBM Systems Application Architecture. With an eye on the day when IBM’s SAA becomes standard, the system enables developers to change screen designs so that, for example, they conform to IBM’s Common User Access. The redesign can be done away from the application with this latest Micro Focus product which enables the developer to paint the screen that needs changing onto his personal computer. This is because the Dialog System generates syntax that represents the screen. Once the design has been completed the changes are transferred to the application in data blocks by using calls to the Dialog System run time system. The operating environment for the Dialog System requires IBM compatible hardware with 640Kb of memory, a 10Mb fixed disk, 60Kb for the run-time system, and an additional 20Kb for validations. In general, the company claims, the system means that the Cobol source programs are much simpler, smaller and easier to handle than normal; it also means screen sets can be changed on line with no modification of the application code, provided the data being accessed is unaffected. Furthermore, the screen sets together with the full dialogue control and validation routines can be kept on a machine remote from the application host, with just the communication aspects of the system needed to link them together. In other words, the Dialog System provides Cobol application developers with the tools to create the sophisticated distribution systems of the future. Consequently, Micro Focus sees IBM’s launch of CICS OS/2 as no challenge to its product range, arguing that the Dialog System could be used on a personal computer in combination with CICS on the mainframe. The company also says it does not view IBM as a competitor, adding that CICS OS/2 will generally expand the marketplace for the use of the microcomputer in mainstream mainframe development, which can only be good news as far as the developers of the Cobol/2 Workbench are concerned.