IntelliJ for Mainframe Powered By Zowe

Michael Bauer
Published in
5 min readMar 1, 2022

Co-authored with Valiantsin Krus (IBA Group)

{Incubation} The Open Mainframe Project Zowe Explorer Squad has received excellent feedback on our VS Code extension that streamlines access to mainframe data sets, USS files, and jobs. However, some have inquired about an IntelliJ IDEA plug-in that would provide access to the mainframe from IDEs like IntelliJ, PyCharm, WebStorm, and more! You asked and we delivered! 🚀 Now, we need your feedback! 📓

IBA Group developed an IntelliJ IDEA plug-in that leveraged z/OSMF to interact with mainframe data sets and USS files. They presented their innovation at a SHARE conference. Following the session, I was able to connect with them to see if they would be interested in joining the Zowe project and adapting their technology to work well within the broader Zowe ecosystem. And they were! 🌟

Our vision for the project is to enable those familiar with these IDEs to comfortably work with the mainframe just like their other projects. We expect this integration to improve the efficiency and overall happiness of IntelliJ enthusiasts now working on the mainframe.

Before jumping into how to get started with a technical preview of this software, a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to making this possible. The folks at IBA Group for driving this innovation forward (Aliaksei Burak, Uladzislau Kalesnikau, Valiantsin Krus, and Valery Aranouski), our OMP summer mentor and mentee (Pavlin Zahariev & Michal Malik), the members of the ZAC (formerly ZLC)& TSC for accepting this incubation project under the CLI squad, the members of the CLI squad who have offered guidance, including Timothy Johnson for helping advise on leveraging the Zowe Team Configuration file.

Getting Started

To install the Zowe Explorer plug-in into your IntelliJ-based IDE, search for it on the marketplace. You can install it just like any other plug-in: File -> Settings -> Plugins.

After that, you will see a Zowe Explorer tab in the upper-right of the IDE. You can expand that, and click the + icon to add your connections. You can also manage your connections by selecting the wrench icon.

Alternatively, you can import your zowe.config.json file if you are already using Zowe Team Config (available in the Zowe V2 Technical Preview).

Currently, it imports your default z/OSMF profile. However, we are working to import all z/OSMF profiles. Also, if you edit this file in your IDE, you can reimport it by clicking a refresh icon that will appear in the upper right corner.

Once you have set up your connection, you can create your working sets and browse your data sets and USS files. Note that we are working on updating our “Getting Started” gifs to reflect the Zowe Explorer naming (the original plug-in was named For Mainframe). Also note that Medium now limits the size of images on the site — for a better viewing experience on a lower-res monitor, please zoom in.

Here is an example of creating, renaming, and deleting Datasets and USS Files:

Here is an example of editing data set and USS file content:

And here is an example of copy/move operations:

You can also easily submit jobs.

Next, we can navigate to the JES Explorer to view our job output. Similar to File Explorer, you will first need to create a working set.

Then we can easily view the spool content of our jobs.

You can also view the properties of a particular job.

Future Efforts

We plan to enhance the plug-in to be able to connect to services via the Zowe API Mediation Layer - a critical component for securing and managing mainframe REST APIs and providing features like Single Sign-On which is critical for environments requiring Multi-Factor Authentication. If there is interest from extenders, we also plan to develop a conformance program. Such programs provide users confidence that extensions will share a high level of common functionality, interoperability, and user experience. We would like to also provide syntax highlighting for popular mainframe languages such as JCL, Rexx, HLASM, and, of course, COBOL. If you are interested in contributing to this project or if you have user feedback please reach out to us on Slack or GitHub! 😁

Learn more:

If you enjoyed this blog check out more Zowe blogs here. Or, ask a question and join the conversation on the Open Mainframe Project Slack Channel #zowe-explorer-intellij, #zowe-explorer, #zowe-cli, #zowe-dev, #zowe-user, or #zowe-onboarding. If this is your first time using the Open Mainframe Slack Channel register here.

Zowe is owned and managed by the Open Mainframe Project, which is a Linux Foundation project.



Michael Bauer
Writer for

Engineering Manager at Broadcom; Main areas of expertise include AIOps, DevOps, Endevor, NetMaster, and Zowe (; 410 Sprint Car Driver