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COBOL Leads Us Back to the Future

News flash: COBOL may be back in style. Sure, it’s one of the most “verbose” programming languages available, its compilations reading like a Victorian novel. But Curtis Franklin Jr. for InformationWeek thinks it has a “whiff of the ‘retro-cool’ about it”:

COBOL has been around since Eisenhower sat in the Oval Office. At one time, it was estimated that 80% of all business applications were written in COBOL — a total that represented more than 2 billion lines of code. That was nearly 20 years ago.

Today, there are still a ton of applications written in COBOL that are integral to the enterprise, and knowing it will increase how employable you are. The question is–do you want to live in a future that resembles a spiffed-up version of the past?

Pick a COBOL Flavor

  • Elastic COBOL
  • Gnu COBOL
  • COBOL for iOS

Remember Platform-as-a-Service (Paas)? Elastic COBOL is for allowing mainframe applications to execute as Java functions, or in COBOL, or in COBOL and Java (hence the term “elastic”). Paas transforms mainframe applications into maintainable Java source code with 100% accuracy.

Then there is GnuCOBOL. This compiler does not discriminate in language subsets. It’s got everything. Use it for porting an existing COBOL application to a new platform, for writing COBOL software, or for learning the COBOL language.

Not surprisingly, IBM has a COBOL compiler, the IBM COBOL for z/OS. It can integrate your COBOL and web-based business processes with web servers, XML, JSON, Java, and COBOL applications. You don’t even have to use a mainframe computer…just don’t count on using anything like Raspberry Pi with this one.

COBOL for your iPhone? Aw heck, why not. If you’re willing to tolerate a ton of limitations, for $2.99  you can get unlimited compilations and can write some green screen apps for your iPhone or iPad. Who says COBOL can’t be cool again?

Read the original article at: http://www.informationweek.com/software/enterprise-applications/cobol-leads-us-back-to-the-future/d/d-id/1320963

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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