or ... Recommended Reading
Recent discussions on a couple of the Hercules related lists prompted me to
add this page to my site. Although I think it probably is possible for
someone with absolutely no background in MVS - user, operator, application
programmer, or system programmer - to find enough information on the Internet to
learn how to install and utilize MVS 3.8j under Hercules, it would certainly be
easier if you avail yourself of some published books. And please note that
I am only addressing the use of MVS 3.8j (although OS/360 MFT and MVT are close
enough that they are included in the blanket MVS). I have no
experience to make a judgment about VM or Linux/390 and barely enough to
remember how to spell DOS/VS.
My personal library has evolved over the years as the shops I was working in
evolved, so that when I discovered Hercules in 1999/2000, what I had on my
shelves at home was way too advanced for MVS 3.8j. Not to say it was all
completely useless, but I was frequently frustrated by receiving responses
informing me that operands I was using on the MVS console and in JCL were not
valid. I embarked upon several road trips to visit (sort of) nearby
university libraries in search of ancient textbooks that were more relevant to
our vintage MVS. I remembered particular titles that I had once owned, but
had purged from my shelves when I thought I would no longer need them. I
also knew titles that I had access to when working at a particular shop,
although many shops only maintained IBM supplied manuals in a central library
and it was up to individual programmers to have their own "cubicle"
libraries. Then there was the circumstance where I was trying to make
changes in areas where I had never had to "poke" before, so I was
looking for unknown books that would help guide me in (to me) unexplored
territory. I found quite a few treasures on some of these library
explorations; came home with reams of photocopies and almost wore out a hole
punch putting them into binders. But I also discovered titles that I was
later able to purchase from used book dealers, and have once again a shelf of
relevant books for my Hercules/MVS activities.
These are the most useful books I have acquired, and utilize almost
constantly, with Hercules/MVS 3.8j:
JCL, utilities, and general dataset management
System/370 Job Control Language (2nd edition) by Gary DeWard Brown
This second edition was published in 1987, but still is almost 100% accurate
for MVS 3.8j. Sadly I owned the 1st edition (it has a green cover), but
disposed of it when I bought the 2nd edition. The 1st edition would be perfect if you can find one of those.
OS JCL and UTILITIES: A Comprehensive Treatment by Michael Trobetta
and Sue Carolyn Finkelstein
This was published in 1983 (copyright of 1984) and is really great for
their sections on each of the utility programs. There are later editions
of this that are not as useful, and I know that because I lived across the
street from a Borders bookstore in 2000 and they had one on their shelves,
which saved me the error of buying it simply for use with Hercules/MVS.
VSAM - Concepts and practical usage of VSAM objects
VSAM: Access Method Services and Programming Techniques by James
This was published in 1987 and is what I reach for when I have VSAM
questions. I have a tiny complaint with the organization, in that the
AMS commands are not ordered the way I think.
VSAM Performance, Design, and Fine Tuning by Jay Ranade
Also published in 1987, this is more of a tuning and "under the
covers" book. It is part of the Ranade series, which means it has
that reputation behind it. There was another book that was sort of the
"basics" companion volume that I wish I had, alas.
Debugging - where to look when those ABENDs occur
Application Debugging: An MVS Abend Handbook for COBOL, Assembly, PL/1,
and FORTRAN Programmers by Robert Binder
Published in 1985. I have to admit, I found this one in a university
library and their copy looked like it had never been opened (but it had been
dropped at some point and the binding ripped away from the spine of the
book). I checked it out and was sorely tempted to report it lost and
just pay them for it. Luckily I was able to find a used copy to
buy. My copy doesn't have the ripped spine but does have minor cover
wear, so you can't accuse me of doing what I was tempted to do. If
you can ... get this book! In addition to excellent ABEND resolution
guidance, it has control block layouts and dump reading flowcharts. I
wouldn't tackle a dump without having this on my desk.
MVS system programming, and answers to the how, why and where questions
P/390 (and R/390) OS/390: New User's Cookbook SG24-4757-00 by Bill
Ogden, Martin Ceron, Mark Worboys, and Mikko Markkula
IBM Redbook published in July 1997. Yes, I know it is way beyond MVS
3.8j chronologically. But this was one of the first books I had the
opportunity to get (on eBay, no less) and it does have some directly
applicable information. After all, OS/390 was MVS first and the P/390
(and R/390) are installations of OS/390 on personal computers running under
hardware emulation via OS/2. Update [07/2008]: I found that this is now
available for download in PDF format from: http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/abstracts/sg244757.html.
MVS Systems Programming by Dave Elder-Vass
Originally published in 1993. And again, yes it is much later than
our MVS, but will answer lots of questions. It was out of print for
years, but with the advent of Publishing On Demand, it is available
again. You can even read it online if you want - visit www.iUniverse.com/bookstore
- and search for the title or author. But it is much easier to handle if
you buy a printed copy - it is over 500 pages and the size is 9 by 12 inches.
IBM Assembler: An Intuitive Approach by Robert W. McBeth and J. Robert
This is what I grab for first when I have basic assembler coding
IBM 370 Assembly Language with ASSIST: Structured Concepts and Advanced
Topics by Charles J. Kacmar
I got this because of the ASSIST macro coverage. You do know that
there is a package available in one of the files sections with the ASSIST
macros, don't you? And I do find other topics that I sometimes end up in
this book researching.
Advanced Assembler Language and MVS Interfaces: For IBM Systems and
Application Programmers by Carmine A. Cannatello
This is an excellent book if you want to learn good assembler coding
style. It also has a lot of useful information for coding programs to
utilize MVS control blocks.
Fundamentals of Structured COBOL Programming (3rd edition) by Carl
This edition was published in 1978. I actually had a copy of this
book in 1973 when I started my first job. If you do anything with the
MVT COBOL compiler, you will soon learn that it is antiquated, and it takes a
book from this time period to cover the "features" of this
compiler. Of course, when I started out we were using COBOL D (which we
referred to as DOD - Department of Defense - COBOL).
A Simplified Guide to FORTRAN Programming by Daniel D. McCracken
Published in 1974. Likewise, our FORTRAN G/H compilers are quite
A Guide to FORTRAN IV Programming by Daniel D. McCracken
Published in 1965. Hey, now we are almost going too far the other
direction. Still was very useful in refreshing my memory on FORTRAN
PL/I Structured Programming (2nd edition) by Joan K. Hughes
This edition was published in 1979, so it is a bit beyond our PL/I.
Remember that these compilers we are using are actually from MVT, so they are
even older than MVS 3.8j. Still, I have been able to use a lot of what
is in the Hughes' book to write some PL/I programs that would compile.
Anyway, these are what I would recommend as "must have"
titles. I never pass up a used bookstore or a library book sale. I
have also had great luck buying used books through www.abebooks.com,
which was the source of several of the titles listed above. If you are
interested in pursuing Hercules/MVS 3.8j, even as a hobby, I would recommend you
start building a shelf of good reference books.
This page was last updated on November 15, 2010.