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Editing EBCDIC Files with VEDIT

Overview of EBCDIC editing

Note: Since this overview and even the more detailed "EBCDIC" page probably will not answer all of your questions, we really encourage you to contact us with your specific needs. We are very easy to reach by phone or email. We work with EBCDIC files every day and know that they are very "strange" (to say the least) to most PC and UNIX users.

VEDIT can not only edit and translate simple EBCDIC files, but our EBCDIC conversion packages can convert even the most complex EBCDIC files with packed, signed, binary, floating-point and other special fields. Fixed-length and variable-length records are supported. This is briefly described below and in more detail on our "EBCDIC" page.

We have successfully converted over a thousand different EBCDIC files. Our software can convert any data file that follows a COBOL copybook. Our customers, including EDS/GM, GE, IRS, Citibank, and many others, convert millions of critical EBCDIC records daily with our software.

VEDIT lets you handle EBCDIC files in two ways:

Edit an EBCDIC file

>>> To edit an EBCDIC file directly:
  1. Open the EBCDIC file as a normal file. The file will initially display as gibberish.
  2. If the file does not contain ASCII newline character(s), you may need to view it with a uniform 64 or 80 characters per line. In this case, select {CONFIG, File handling, File type} and enter "64", "80" or other desired value.

    If the file contains fixed length records, enter the record length here.
  3. Press <Alt-D> the hot-key for {VIEW, Toggle display mode} nine (9) times to enter EBCDIC mode. The status line will display "EBCDIC".

    You should now be able to read the EBCDIC file on the screen. You can enter new text directly from the keyboard. You can even search for text and work with the file just as if you were sitting at a mainframe editor.
  4. To optionally edit the file in EBCDIC and hexadecimal, select {VIEW, Toggle hex-mode split}. You may need to click the mouse in the right (ASCII) window and press <Alt-D> several times to switch the window into EBCDIC mode.

Convert a simple EBCDIC text file

EBCDIC files that do not contain packed-decimal fields are easily translated to ASCII by the standard VEDIT package. Even 100+ megabyte-sized files are quickly converted (about 60 megabytes per minute on a Pentium 800 MHz computer).

>>> To translate an EBCDIC file (without packed fields) into ASCII:
  1. Open the EBCDIC file in the normal manner, e.g., with {FILE, Open file}.
  2. Select {BLOCK, Select all} to mark the entire file as a block.
  3. Select {EDIT, Translate, Translate from EBCDIC} to translate the file to ASCII.

    If the original EBCDIC file consisted of fixed-length records without end-of-record characters, you may want to add an ASCII "Newline" (Carriage-Return and Line-Feed) to the end of each record so that Windows/DOS programs can more easily read it.
  4. Select {CONFIG, File handling, File type} and set the correct record length. Records should now be nicely aligned on the screen.
  5. Select {EDIT, Convert, Convert macro}. In the macro's menu, select "Fixed length records to Newlines".
  6. Select {FILE, Close buffer} or {FILE, Exit} to save the translated file.

Similarly, an ASCII file can be translated to EBCDIC with {EDIT, Translate, Translate to EBCDIC}.

IMPORTANT:    Since IBM PC ASCII and EBCDIC have somewhat different character sets, not all characters will translate without problems. In particular, there is no equivalent of most IBM PC graphics characters. Therefore, if you translate a file to EBCDIC and then back again to ASCII, you may not have the same file again. Some punctuation and most control and graphics characters will have changed. In this case, you may prefer to edit the file in EBCDIC without translating it.

The EBCDIC translation table is built into VEDIT. However, for custom needs you can modify the EBCDIC.TBL file and then load the revised EBCDIC translation table into VEDIT. This supports various International code-pages for both ASCII and EBCDIC.

Automate the Translation

VEDIT easily lets you automate the translation via a Windows icon, a command line or batch file. For example, the following command (e.g., in a batch file) performs a simple EBCDIC to ASCII translation without any user intervention and without even showing VEDIT on the screen.

vpw -q -e -c"Translate_Block(0,File_Size,REVERSE) Xall" %1

where "%1" is the name of the file to be converted. To save the converted file under a new name use:

vpw -q -e -c"Translate_Block(0,File_Size,REVERSE) Xall" %1 -a %2

where "%2" is the new name.

EBCDIC (Data) Conversion Packages

Our EBCDIC conversion packages can translate almost any EBCDIC (COBOL) file with packed (signed), binary, zoned or other special fields. Several packages are available, depending upon the complexity of your EBCDIC files. They range in price from $550 to $950, and include VEDIT Deluxe. The top level package can:

For more information on VEDIT's EBCDIC editing:

If you have any questions about EBCDIC editing or translation, please don't hesitate to contact us. We provide very personal and fast service.

We are happy to look at a sample EBCDIC file you send and determine exactly what software is needed to convert it. Please include or fax any file layout/specification that you might have. Just "zip" up your file(s) and email them to support@vedit.com.