How to use font-based icons in isCOBOL GUI programs

Question ID : 325
Created on 2022-01-10 at 1:57 AM
Author : Veryant Support []

Online URL :

When your GUI application is going to need a large variety of different bitmaps for any kind of GUI control that accepts a bitmap for its icon, you can use font-based bitmaps instead of trying to get different images for each control. Bitmap fonts provide a comprehensive set of glyphs, or icons.
In this article we will use one of the most popular bitmap fonts: FontAwesome. You can download it from:
However, any bitmap font can be used (Material Design Font,, etc)
The .otf file that you download can be located in any folder that you choose. You create a named font with W$CREATEFONT that points to the path (full or relative) of the font.

   move "Font Awesome 5 Free Solid" to font-name
   call "w$createfont" using "files/Font Awesome 5 Free-Solid-900.otf"
Then you load a font with W$FONT based on that named font.
   initialize wfont-data
   set wfdevice-console to true
   move font-name       to wfont-name
   move 10              to wfont-size
   call "w$font" using wfont-get-font
Now, in order to use some of the icons from that font for your program, you need to create a strip of selected icons.
The FontAwesome font uses a hexadecimal code of 4 characters to refer to their icons.
Here's a link to all of the available icons and their hex codes:
Each of those hex codes need to be converted to a decimal value and then combined in a national variable as in this example:
 77  character-1-hex         pic x(4).
 77  character-1-n           pic n(1).
 77  character-1-red         pic x(2) comp-x 
                                      redefines character-1-n.

 77  icon-characters         pic n any length.


   move "f1c3" to character-1-hex
   move "f576" to character-2-hex
   move "f008" to character-3-hex

   move function hex2dec(character-1-hex) to character-1-red
   move function hex2dec(character-2-hex) to character-2-red
   move function hex2dec(character-3-hex) to character-3-red

   initialize icon-characters 
   string character-1-n delimited by space
          character-2-n delimited by space
          character-3-n delimited by space
          into icon-characters.
Once you have the list of decimal values in a national string, you can create the bitmap strip in memory, using the W$BITMAP routine:
   call "w$bitmap" using wbitmap-load-symbol-font, 
                  giving h-font-icon
Now, since the h-font-icon handle of font contains the strip of icons 20 pixels each, you can assign icons from it to a GUI control on the screen section:
    03 ef-1 
       line                       5
       col                        15
       size                       20 cells
       lines                      2 cells
       bitmap-handle              h-font-icon
       bitmap-width               20
       bitmap-number              1

    03 pb-1
       line                       9
       col                        15
       lines                      2 cells
       size                       20 cells
       bitmap-handle              h-font-icon
       bitmap-width               20
       title-position             2
       title                      "Option A"
       bitmap-number              2
This code creates part of a simple example screen that looks like this:

Attached is a zip file with a full sample of using the FontAwesome bitmap font. After downloading it, you can compile:
iscc  fontawesome.cbl
and run:

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