Top Daily use ISPF commands for mainframe developers

The ISPF through TSO option in mainframe is only option you can increase your productivity. The popular commands I am giving here are collected based on my experience and from other senior developers. The first few commands read here, before you move on to next level.

According to ITSTILLWORKS Mainframe computers are designed to be extremely reliable, not just speedy. They typically have redundant versions of hardware components like disk drives and electrical power supplies, so even if a component fails, the computer can continue to run. They generally also have the ability to add computing power to a given task as needed in essentially real-time, making them well suited to handle spikes in workloads without going down.

ISPF commands

The line commands

I – Insert a line
D – Delete a line
R – Repeat a line

Move/Copy commands

M/C – Move or copy
A/B/O – to specify destination of move/copy text
M – Identifies the line to be moved
M3 – Identified 3 lines
MM – Identifies block of lines


A symbolic label can be given. That starts with ‘.’

The labels start with ‘Z’ are system defined and cannot be defined by end user.

ZCSR – It locates where cursor is located
ZFIRST – Takes to first data line
ZLAST – Takes to last data line

According to Betanews-The challenges are not whether these modern platforms can handle the workload — Amazon, Google, Ebay, FaceBook and others have proven that. The question is whether organizations are willing to take the risks in modernizing their application portfolio and what they are willing to spend to do it.

During my 18 years as an analyst at Gartner, I took more mainframe inquiries than anyone there. Clients WANT to get off — they have shown reluctance because of the risks of moving. Also, the defenders of the platform have always thrown up roadblocks to migration since it threatened their power and even jobs. An understandable reaction by the individual, but an organization’s IT strategy shouldn’t be driven by the retirement plans of their employees!


Author: Srini

Experienced software developer. Skills in Development, Coding, Testing and Debugging. Good Data analytic skills (Data Warehousing and BI). Also skills in Mainframe.