Zowe. OpenSource for z/OS, really?

I’ve had the privilege of working on several open source projects during my time at IBM and during my time as a customer. There is a new project called Zowe that is hosted as a sub-project of the OpenMainframeProject. The Open Mainframe Project is part of the Linux Foundation. To learn more about the project please read on.

Zowe – apart from being new, what is it?

IBM, Rocket and Computer Associates announced their support and contributions that formed the basis for a new Open Source Community at Share 2018 in St Louis. The community is called Zowe and at its core is an open source framework, a command line interface, and a desktop-like experience for z/OS. That is an accurate statement but let’s break it down a bit by answering some questions:

What is Zowe?

From a business perspective Zowe enables an open way for traditional IBM z/OS vendors to collaborate on delivering products and capabilities that benefit the IBM z/OS platform as a whole. The term we frequently use is “A rising tide lifts all boats”. These capabilities include making the platform accessible to people that are not traditional z/OS users. This is done in three ways:The following are a description of code that is hosted as part of the project. Please visit for a peek at the source.

Explorer APIs (REST API enablement. Repositories named Explorer)

Today Explorer enables support for accessing MVS files in both MVS and USS format. These APIs support websockets and interact with z/OSMF APIs as delivered in z/OS 2.2 and 2.3. Additional capabilities have been added to Explorer to support web based programming and also includes a lightweight editor for accessing files, making changes, submitting jobs and reviewing output without having to use a 3270 interface. This project provides the basis for hosting a variety of other services based on Java and establishing an API contract for Zowe users to ensure API stability.

Zowe Command Line Interface (Repositories named Imperative)

You will see this capability referred to as Imperative in the Git repo and the community. CA currently has a technology known as Brightside which was the basis for Imperative. This delivers a command-line capability from a users desktop to interact with z/OS services available through REST APIs. It requires Node to be running on the desktop and uses SAF for Authentication and Authorization through z/OSMF APIs. Imagine running commands as part of a CI/CD workflow to save, compile, deploy and test a COBOL program in CICS, or a new change to a Java app all from the developer’s command line without having to log on to a 3270.

Zowe Web UI (HTML based desktop and communication framework. Repositories named zLUX)

Perhaps the most visually compelling component is Zowe Web UI. It provides a robust set of capabilities by exposing z/OS in a familiar Desktop motif. This technology was introduced by Rocket 2 and ½ years ago and has been the core of Zowe as we’ve experimented with building the community. This also includes an EPL 2.0 licensed TN3270 emulator which runs on the desktop. The important element here is that applications running in the desktop can communicate with each other by sending messages and context. This means that from a 3270 based ISPF 3.4 screen one could right click and launch in context to an editor on the desktop. This powerful messaging capability is what we see as changing the game for software developers to build more robust solutions across the products. This is a significant departure from other modernization efforts that used a heavier framework like Eclipse. This is all in a browser window on an HTML 5 canvas.

What does Zowe stand for?

It is not supposed to stand for anything. We wanted a name that was not an acronym, was better than zStuff and was trademarkable. Originally it was Zoe but due to a set of lawyers from three different organizations (IBM, CA, Rocket and the Linux Foundation) we ended up making everyone equally unhappy with Zowe . Although, I think it’s the best one by far now that it had a chance to bloom.

Does this replace z/OSMF ?

No, Zowe does not replace z/OSMF. The z/OSMF team is part of the community and collaborating with the Zowe team to deliver RESTful services and the framework for improved interaction for IBM z/OS.

What is the OpenMainframeProject ?

All Open Source projects need a home. We’ve found one at the Linux Foundation’s Open Main Frame Project. The Open Mainframe Project has traditionally been focused on Linux and related work and this addition helps move the foundation forward by adding the main platform for IBM Z (namely z/OS) to its collection of projects.

Why Open Source?

Agility is the key to success in IT. Not only the ability to make capabitilites available faster but also the ability to discover what doesn’t work based on more immediate feedback. Zowe is a first step to developing next generation RESTful services and user experiences in a way that achieves the goal of agility.

What License is being used?

All code in the Zowe project is based on Eclipse Public License 2.0. This license allows for the software to be consumed with no cost but does ask that changes to the software be made available for the Community to consider for inclusion.

How can I get involved?

Visit the Community WebPage at and here you find out information on where the code is housed ( ) how to join the Slack channels as well as subscribe to the mailing lists.

There is a lot to learn and explore. Come join the community. Welcome to Zowe.

Editors Note: This blog post was originally posted by Matt Hogstrom on LinkedIn.  Matt is Chief Architect and Distinguished Engineer – IBM Z, Management and IT Optimization Software at IBM.