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48

COBOL was one of the first languages I learned - if you ignore countless versions of Basic, three or four assembler languages and a variant of Forth, then it was in my first five, and learned concurrently with Pascal. IOW, I'm answering from personal experience using the language. EDIT I should say ancient experience. I never used the language after the end ...


37

Nooo, of course not. COBOL is a dead language, after all. Or is it? The problem with that view is that programmers at sites like this one usually work with high tech, fast-running (and equally fast burning-out) companies. For them COBOL is a dead language - it is nowhere to be seen. Has not been for some time now, 'tis true. But COBOL was not meant for ...


33

Having spent most of today writing some COBOL I think I can give some current input. First the BAD stuff:- No function calls. Modern COBOL has some built in functions but its a serious engineering job to write your own. No type checking on subroutine calls. You can pass (or not pass) anything on a subroutine call, the called subroutine will blithely ...


26

I don't think so, unless you are already in the niche market where COBOL is still maintained.


21

This is probably down to Djikstra. Djikstra stated that "The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offense." Cobol was viewed as naive, unstructured and verbose. With the ability to self-alter code (a practice discouraged even among cobol programmers) it was viewed as quite difficult to debug or follow ...


19

Yes, I think this is somewhat true. COBOL is being taught less and less at universities. It is not a modern nor "hot and cool" language - so the chance of people picking it up by interest/hobby is smaller than for the current "hot" languages. At the same time, there are millions and millions of COBOL code live in critical systems, that will have to be ...


16

If you can see yourself as COBOL programmer, then go for it. There are still billions of lines written in COBOL that require maintenance. Actually, there is no such thing as unnecessary knowledge, so broaden the knowledge and wider opportunities you (will) have.


15

Does learning it make sense? Well, it's a niche and there's tons of working legacy code that need to be maintained and can't just be rewritten. So while it's not really an option for the vast masses of all programmers, it's a perspective for a steady income for individuals. However, if you're interested in creating new solutions, rather than slowly ...


15

Ask the job boards If you're asking "is this archaic skill marketable?", I'd say to check the job boards. Let's take COBOL, for instance. If you see lots of COBOL jobs, and if they pay much better than jobs requiring skills you already have, there's your answer. (This quick search on Indeed doesn't suggest that COBOL jobs pay particularly well, and ...


14

There are a billions lines of written on cobol that works on production and does money-related operations. Rewriting cobol-written systems(or even its parts) is too hard and too risky. That's why dead cobol is still alive :) Currently I'm working at internal-scale bank and observe very similar situation with java - so many trade-systems are written on ...


12

You're jumping the gun. From your description it looks like you haven't fully understood the current technical environment (what OS exactly, where and how is the data stored, do interfaces to other systems exist etc.). But even more important: a serious plan should consider alternatives to a partial or complete in-house rewrite of the sofware, namely ...


11

It's mostly legacy now. Many critical business systems are still in COBOL simply for the fact that they are so big and integrated that the cost of rewriting doesn't seem worth it. Writing a new system in COBOL is probably not feasible anymore, as most COBOL developers are so scarce that they can pull in a considerable amount of money for the specialized ...


10

Surely this is the time to get into COBOL programming. Without wanting to offend the more "mature" members of the stackexchange community, all of the infrastructure around banking, traffic lights and ATMs were created when they were cutting edge technology (1970's/1980's). The people who created these systems will now be retiring at a fast rate, so there ...


9

I'm a Cobol developer that learned how to be a Java developer. Coding in Java requires a different way of thinking about the problem than coding in Cobol. Java is object oriented, while Cobol is procedural. In Java, you have variable encapsulation, while in Cobol, all variables are global. Java can be used to develop all sorts of applications, while ...


8

A lot of european companies still rely heavily on mainframes running like z/vse and cobol programs. There is a demand for skilled cobol programmers that noone thinks the market will fill which drives up the salary, a lot. The question should be, "will I ever develop something new using cobol?" since pretty much everything is maintenance or variations of ...


8

It's age and verboseness are typically the things that make people groan about it. I seem to recall that the main aim for IBM when designing COBOL was that it "should allow a bank manager to write a program". This goal obviously had a profound affect on the way the language was designed, and it now it evolved. Apparently there's more COBOL out in the wild ...


8

Here's a good example, from this page. It computes a 25 year investment based on a particular interest rate which is given as the yearly interest rate but actually computed and added to the balance each day. IN COBOL: program-id. Compare. working-storage section. 01 yield-exact pic 9(9)v99 comp. 01 yield-float pic 9(9)v99 comp. ...


7

Is that a million programmers actively programming in COBOL, or a million non-retired programmers that know COBOL? Pretty much anyone that started programming before 2000 (and went through a CS program) would have learned COBOL and have at least some level of experience with it.


7

Being already skilled in COBOL is lucrative. The problem is: you hardly write new code, you keep mantaining forever, do some integration, or port to Java/.NET/web. That's more the profile of badass sysadmin with benefits position than that of a programmer. When COBOL was mainstream, to make things work, COBOLds had to do many non-canonical hacks on ...


7

Every now and then I see one of these, and I think of how long I spent trying to purge COBOL from my resume. It boggles the mind. I'll try and answer the questions in order. 1) It's very hard to get one of these jobs, because the paradigm is so outdated. There are no new systems (effectively), so you're competing against people who've been doing it forever. ...


6

Anyone transitioning from COBOL to VB6 is bringing very little from the first language to the second. Variables, loops, conditionals, and inputs/outputs are things most languages have in common so you're transferring those programming fundamentals, but frankly little else. Realistically they're learning VB6 from scratch. Basic was specifically designed to ...


6

Cobol was largely used by businesses. It wasn't a particularly nice language, but there was good money in programming it. Ultimately it went into decline and isn't used much these days. Describing Java as the New Cobol is a disapproving/dismissive phrase which IMHO tends to come from developers who would rather be programming nicer languages like ruby, ...


6

I think it's the idea that people will not naturally be drawn to Java, preferring to try some other language that's deemed more powerful, more fun or just simply cooler. And then, as with Cobol now, companies will have to spend real money to train people to maintain all the Java code that is still in production. It's always risky betting on something that ...


6

I am not sure about that number of COBOL programmers is over a million, but, the 90% of all transactions is only slightly exaggerated. Most large banks, most insurance companies, most Utility companies, and most government organizations still use COBOL extensively. So the chances are that you as an individual are initiating five or six COBOL transactions ...


6

I don't think it is possible to measure that beforehand, because it depends on too many factors like size of the system, qualification of your programmers, the existing "ecosystem" of your software, the migration strategy and so on. Hell, it may be true that future changes will be more expensive after the migration, it really depends. Only thing you can do ...


6

You're trying to determine whether it would be cost effective to migrate a COBOL app to C#? I would think that's like asking if it would be cost effective to migrate from a 1972 Ford Pinto to a 2011 Name Your Brand. On the serious side, this is so much an apples to oranges comparison. You are dealing with a technology that has long past its prime (COBOL), ...


6

What's so bad about COBOL? Nothing. I think people have a preconceived notion that old is bad, "newest is bestest". It's still very much in use, and I'm sure there will be enough maintenance work on code to be had for another half century. In 1997, the Gartner Group reported that 80% of the world's business ran on COBOL with over 200 billion ...


5

I used to work for IBM where COBOL and PL/I code was written every day. Also from big companies relying on IBMs mainframes like many banks which require thousands of transactions per second those languages are still heavilly used. If you don't want to work in a place like that (That's why I just worked there for 6 months) then don't even think of learning ...



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