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back to article Who says COBOL doesn't get tweaks?

Some software development projects take a long time to complete, and others seem to take an eternity. So it is, it seems, for 64-bit support for IBM's COBOL compiler for its own AIX Unix variant running on Power-based servers. IBM has been shipping 64-bit Power-based servers since 1995 (starting with its proprietary AS/400 line …

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Silver badge

COBOL?

Is that still about? Jay-zuz. I thought that was dead a long time ago.

(Ex-COBOL monkey)

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Boffin

COBOL ain't dead

COBOL isn't' dead and IBM should be updating its COBOL with new features for usability and problem determination.

It is still a marvelously efficient tool for creating new online and batch applications that must process massive amounts of data or massive numbers of transactions.

And it is required to maintain existing system which were written in COBOL and for which re-development or porting can't be economically justified.

I think the root cause of the problem is that what useful innovators IBM has don't want to work on COBOL. So regardless of customer wants and desires, COBOL is left to stagnate.

Just one tiny bothersome example of what is still missing from COBOL and z/OS, clearly show us the compile and the link dates when we look at lists of modules and dumps.

You'd think IBM would realize that a switch from COBOL generally means a switch from IBM products.

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Heart

I <3 Cobol

I <3 Cobol, it was my first programming language. Which is not to deny there were far to many abominations committed in its name and that many of these abominations still blight the face of the Earth.

Still, you can code badly in ANY language.

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Paris Hilton

No.. COBOL isn't dead..

..it just smells funny.

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Flame

@Keith T

> It is still a marvelously efficient tool for creating new online and batch applications

> that must process massive amounts of data or massive numbers of transactions.

Bullshit. Utter and total.

And yes, I can program and did program in Cobol. Including having to deal with designing and writing re-entrant Cobol s/w for transaction monitors. I have also programmed in a dozen other languages through the years designing and coding production systems.

Cobol is a crap programming language. Period.

One of my systems is currently doing 2000+ transactions per second. As it has been for a few years know, processing over 9 billion transactions per month. It would have been career suicide to write it in Cobol. Hell, I'm hard pressed to think of anyone I know, including the techie-has-been-now-management types that would suggest to do it in Cobol.

So sell your bullshit somewhere else Keith.

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Silver badge

COBOL is dead!

Long Live COBOL!

Seriously, there are more functional lines of COBOL and Fortran working in big business today than the average kid who never used a dial telephone could possibly imagine. I do not know of a single COBOL or Fortran programmer who is currently out of work. I can't say the same for Java(script), VisBas, C++, C#, and what-have-you. Not a month goes by when I don't get email from a former student, thanking me for suggesting COBOL or Fortran as another programming language to learn ... The two are pretty much ubiquitous in big business.

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good grief

Thanks for the sudden sharp reminder of my age

Had an unpleasant tho briefly nostalgic memory of coding sheets, 3-attempt-compiles and big boxes of paper core dumps on my desk.

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Gold badge
Joke

Re: Not dead.

Not only does it smell funny, it's also forgotten what it's for and developed a habit of weeing in the kettle.

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Thumb Up

The Mark Twain of programming languages...

...because reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated!

I'm a bit of an old geezer, started working in IT in 1979, and the the first language I learned was COBOL. I remember being worried at the time that I had taken a wrong turn with the job because the trade press was full of stories that COBOL was finished. 30 years on I read this story. Life in the old dog yet!

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Bronze badge
Heart

Vivat COBOL1

There has yet to be a better, clearer, mre easily maintained language devised in which to develop large-scale data-crunching applications, which after all still forms the bulk of the work that we do in the IT industry. There's a good reason why all the COBOL apps written in the pocket-protecror era are still happily chugging away afer all these years.

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Thumb Up

Oh, I quite like COBOL

Fair enough, creating a Web UI would be a royal p.i.t.a, but for charging through large files or other such operations? It is, as they say, quite simply the shit.

Ah, level 88...where are you now?

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Stop

My aren't we snooty

First editorial correction: VSAM is certainly not a "Flat" (usually read as sequential) file system. However, it is most assuredly NOT a database. It does support several different types of organisation, which I could detail but no one reading this that doesn't know it already would care. Point is it is arguably the fastest way EVER to get at your data --- ASSUMING you know how you want to get at it. It would be unimaginably dreadful for most any data mining sort of operation. But I worked on a system where the decision was made to use VSAM over DB2 simply because there was no rational need for a database and VSAM is MUCH faster. Not to knock DB2, or any other database, it simply provides far fewer options, and until someone invents a free lunch it will always be faster. Are relational DBs fast enough? Usually yes, but they are not the only game in town. "When all you need is a hammer, sometimes a hammer will work just fine!"

On COBOL, it like all other languages has it's good points and bad. It's single greatest detraction is that it has about a -1.628E30 cool factor. As pointed out the installed base is gigantic, shrinking, but gigantic and will probably be with us for at least 20 years, maybe 50.

As procedural languages go, it is actually among the best in the world. (There's your flame bait right there.) It never ceases to amaze me that anyone ever thought writing a business program in C was even a workable idea. The mere concept of business means the computational heavy lifting is that sometimes you get to subtract as well as add! But mostly what you do in business, even the mighty Inter-web ( :P ) is move known quantities of fixed length character data about: disk to screen, screen to paper, etc etc. Rinse and repeat 700 billion times. COBOL is uniquely suited to that task. C, which lacks the concept of a fixed length character string stands out as the worst (mainstream) language ever for this purpose. And of course you can write remarkably repugnant COBOL. And yes I still have a sore spot about the repugnant C to which I was subjected. But if we're going to rant let's rant about something really dreadful.

Given all this, I am very glad to be rid of COBOL. I am very much more glad to be rid of C. C++ was a lovely prototype of what an OO language probably shouldn't do. What Sun did with Java is miraculous. It is however, contrary to this decade's belief, not the evolutionary culmination of computer language, but it is DAMN good. Better than COBOL, (OO COBOL is a true abomination of nature) and WAY better than C.

In many way's it is good that IT doesn't live in its past. It's what I like so much about this industry. It reinvents itself every 10 years. But not every new idea is a good one, and not every old idea was folly. COBOL was (is) an important tool of business. And business is not "cool" it is pragmatic, pondering, and pays for this entire quirky experiment we call life.

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Bronze badge

If it's even moribund

then isn't it perfectly reasonable for IBM to add new features to more popular languages and program products first, and leave updating COBOL for last?

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