Transaction or Task?

It is important that we use the correct terms to avoid confusion when communicating. Today’s topic is one regarding basic CICS terms, but this particular pair of terms are frequently used interchangeably when they actually have distinct meanings. I am sure I have been sloppy with my language at times and have been guilty myself of using the wrong term.

A transaction is definition of a transaction id, which is associated with a program id. When a transaction is invoked, a task is started in CICS. A task is a unit of work resulting from a transaction being started. Many different end users can execute the same transaction, but each results in a separate task. If you are talking about what defines how a program gets invoked from a blank screen or from an EXEC CICS START TRAN command, you are talking about a transaction; if you are talking about the specific results of a transaction being invoked, you are talking about a task.

It is a common mistake to say “transaction” when one is really talking about a “task”. It may sound like a trivial distinction, and often it is understood which is being discussed by the context, but you can distinguish yourself as someone who is knowledgeable about CICS by using the correct term.

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