Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Cobol Isn't Dead

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the not-quite dept.

Software 41

YellowYahoo writes "Ever wondered how to combine old and new technology for fun and profit? Doing their part to continue COBOL's dominance of installed software, Deskware has developed a COBOL based scripting language designed for serving web pages. Whether or not COBOL will succeed as the next great web language, is obvously up to some debate, but there is at least one active site deployed in Cobolscript. According to their FAQ, their main advantage is leveraging existing employees' programming knowledge. Does that make it a reasonable language to use? There's certainly some justification that COBOL makes a better langauge for implementing business rules than either Perl or Java. Time to dust off (or start learning?) all those older languages!"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Come on guys! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8713388)

Nobody going for first post?

yeah right! (1)

manavendra (688020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8713415)

..their main advantage is leveraging existing employees' programming knowledge..
geez. I can't leverage my existing employees' programming knowledge then - we go no one familiar with COBOL in our engineering staff of 200 :-s

*sigh... life's tough

dilbert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8713429)

:) [cvdn.net]

Make a request. (4, Funny)

Hulver (5850) | more than 10 years ago | (#8713439)

Your job will run overnight, and they'll email you the web page in the morning.

Re:Make a request. (2, Funny)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 10 years ago | (#8713977)

they'll email you the web page in the morning ... printed by a line printer on greenbar paper, graphics rendered in ASCII.

Wow (0, Funny)

perlyking (198166) | more than 10 years ago | (#8713517)

Its funny that they complain about perl for being "obfuscated" yet think code like this [cobolscript.com] is fine.

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

Alrescha (50745) | more than 10 years ago | (#8713888)

I don't know why the original post was modded 'insightful', did anyone actually look at that code? I did, and it was easy to determine what the program was supposed to do. I suspect it was understandable to most readers of Slashdot.

Perl is the very definition of obfuscated. If you code in Perl while drinking, even you can't understand what the program does the next morning. It's powerful, but people don't refer to it as a write-only language for nothing.

A.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8715883)

I definitely have to agree. Perhaps it's because I was taught COBOL in college over 20 years ago, but it looked pretty clear to me. Very verbose, obviously, but very clear. As I recall, one of the best attributes of COBOL was its almost self-documenting nature.

Re:Wow (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 10 years ago | (#8718762)

COBOL is still a pain to read and even more of a pain to write. After taking 2 COBOL courses in college, I never *EVER* want to deal with it again.

The Wow Community (3, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 10 years ago | (#8716674)

To a COBOL person, that probably looks as clear as i++;. Which brings up a point people always overlook when they argue about whether one programming language is "better" than another.

People think of programming language in terms of language specs and compilers or interpreters. But those things don't define a language -- they just describe and implement it. A programming language is defined by the community of programmers that use it. As long as that community persists, so will the programming language. It should come as no suprise that Cobol people find it easier to invent a Cobol-like script language than to switch to a totally new form of coding. Just as scientists and engineers (the original kind, not the software kind) insist on using Fortran, an ancient language that's a nightmare to compile and debug.

Come to think of it, programming languages are not different in this respect from ordinary human language. Which people are always trying to "fix" but which remains stubbornly illogical and inefficient. Consider Han Characters [de-han.org] , the oldest and most absurdly complex writing system on the planet. Yet it's a primary communication tool for 1/3 of the human race, and will certainly remain so as long as human literacy persists.

Re:The Wow Community (3, Informative)

Nighttime (231023) | more than 10 years ago | (#8717394)

To a COBOL person, that probably looks as clear as i++;.

That would be ADD 1 TO i in COBOL :)

Yes, I am a COBOL programmer and I had no problem comprehending the script linked to in the grandparent.

Re:The Wow Community (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 10 years ago | (#8718215)

Cobol programmers still don't use algebraic expressions? That points up one of the reasons some of us never took Cobol seriously. Hopper thought she was making the language more "natural" by giving it a pseudo-English syntax. What didn't occur to her that real English is much more complicated and ambiguous than any computer language, and requires special carbon-based processors to for even the most rudimentary tasks.

Re:The Wow Community (1)

random_static (604731) | more than 10 years ago | (#8718326)

Hopper thought she was making the language more "natural" by giving it a pseudo-English syntax. What didn't occur to her that real English is much more complicated and ambiguous than any computer language

in all fairness, that probably wasn't nearly so obvious to people back than (what was it, forty or fifty years ago now?) as it is to us today. the sample she had to judge from was machine code, probably assembly, maybe FORTRAN, and not a whole lot else, after all.

even so, the more i learn about COBOL, the more certain i am that the good admiral is probably still in purgatory for it. let's hope the language will finally up and die sometime soon.

Re:The Wow Community (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 10 years ago | (#8718611)

Perhaps what's unfair is to blame Hopper for inventing the notion of an English-like programming language back in 1952. When, as you point out, it wasn't obvious to most computer people how complicated natural language really is. More blameworthy are the government bureaucrats who continued to push the idea even into the 60s, which was when the became embodied into Cobol. By then, they'd hard enough experience with language design to know better.

And, come to think of it, Hopper was one of those bureaucrats. She never did admit that there was anything wrong with her original concept. The original mistake is forgivable, but not the stuborness with which she stuck to it.

Re:The Wow Community (1)

Nighttime (231023) | more than 10 years ago | (#8720269)

Cobol programmers still don't use algebraic expressions?

Well, there's always the COMPUTE statement, COMPUTE i = i + 1. You can use it to compute any algerbraic expression.

However, using the COBOL keywords for the arithmetic expressions can give you greater control. The DIVIDE statement is quite funky in COBOL. You can do your division, get the integer result, the remainder and handle a divide by zero condition all in one statement.

There are a few other COBOL keywords and statements that allow you to do some funky stuff that you cannot do in other languages.

Funky??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8724713)

What are you, like somebody from the '60s, dude?

Re:The Wow Community (1)

Tukla (5899) | more than 9 years ago | (#8727443)

Depending on your platform, using the individual keywords rather than COMPUTE can even increase your performance.

Re:The Wow Community (2, Interesting)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 10 years ago | (#8718244)

I don't know Cobol, but it wasn't hard to understand.

But boy would it be a royal pain to write!

Encoding the message in that bizarre way made my eyes ache. I suppose you could, irony of ironies, use a Perl program to generate it automatically :-).

D

One active site (4, Funny)

twilight30 (84644) | more than 10 years ago | (#8713540)

... there is at least one active site deployed in Cobolscript


Not after today there isn't

Lol, that's rich. (2, Interesting)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 10 years ago | (#8713553)

I specifically didn't take Advanced COBOL in college because I didn't want a dead end job fixing Y2K bugs. I feel sorry for anyone that is working with those old JCL/COBOL based systems.

Although, as more people start to fall from the ranks of "knowing" COBOL the remaining few that can service the large amount of systems out there should do really well financially.

I have an old COBOL compiler for an ancient version of Xenix (2.3.4 I think) on 5.25" Floppies! I may dust it off and take a look for fun at some of the old code I've got laying around.

COBOL programming is like these old guys I worked with that hang their hat on DOS programming in Clipper, sad. What was impressive in 1993, is no longer impressive.

Re:Lol, that's rich. (1)

glen604 (750214) | more than 10 years ago | (#8713991)

Although, as more people start to fall from the ranks of "knowing" COBOL the remaining few that can service the large amount of systems out there should do really well financially.

yes and no, actually- a good portion of the COBOL based systems out there right now are in the financial industry, which is not known for paying IT people well

There's actually currently quite a few younger (ie 20's and 30's) people working on cobol systems now, so they'll have fresh bodies for a while.

Re:Lol, that's rich. (1)

vrai (521708) | more than 10 years ago | (#8714649)

... financial industry, which is not known for paying IT people well

Speak for yourself - I work in the finance industry as a coder and it pays pretty damn well. Not, I hasten to add, that I'd touch COBOL for all the Mountain Dew in America.

COBOL for business logic != COBOL for presentation (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8713630)

There's certainly some justification that COBOL makes a better langauge for implementing business rules than either Perl or Java.
So implement your business logic in COBOL and call it from your Java code (J2EE Connector Architecture [sun.com] ) or Perl or whatever else.

Cobol isn't dead. . . (3, Funny)

Bastian (66383) | more than 10 years ago | (#8713908)

. . . it's undead.

Re:Cobol isn't dead. . . (1)

secolactico (519805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8714040)

Cobol isn't dead. . .

... it just smells that way!

*rimshot*

Re:Cobol isn't dead. . . (1)

bXTr (123510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8721360)

It's pining for the fiords. Lovely bird, COBOL. Beautiful plumage.

Re:Cobol isn't dead. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8727548)

That's hilarious... I'm adding that as a quote on Mathforge.net, ascribed to you of course!

It is about time for Cobol to make a come back. (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 10 years ago | (#8713942)

I took Cobol in college. Compared to C, C++, and Java, Cobol rocked. All the Cobol programs they had us write were data entry/update screens or batch fil e updates. One the biggest advantages of Cobol was that it was designed to make form entry and file access easy. For records keeping and "business processes," cobol was great. What was annoying about Cobol was having a professor that wanted the characters on the exact line though the compiler didn't demand it that way and code/printer/screen spacing charts!

Lawson's ERP runs on Cobol (3, Insightful)

hobbestcat (473268) | more than 10 years ago | (#8713997)

Lawson's ERP runs on Cobol... on top of Oracle DB... with a JavaScript UI engine. Really! I'm not kidding. We are deploying it right now and (as an IT Architect) I must say that I was stunned by their architecture.

Re:Lawson's ERP runs on Cobol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8715863)

Ignorance is bliss hobbes. Wait till you realize the neverending upgrade cycle, and the fact that Lawson's fixes ALWAYS break more than they fix.

It's a "neat" architecture because Lawson refused to rearchitect after they left the mainframe. Believe me, their abstraction layers do nothing but kill performance.

Good luck...

Re:Lawson's ERP runs on Cobol (1)

hobbestcat (473268) | more than 10 years ago | (#8717603)

I think you misread my "stunned" as in "cool" where I really meant "stunned" as in "who the hell thought of this".

Re:Lawson's ERP runs on Cobol (1)

anomalous cohort (704239) | more than 10 years ago | (#8720149)

I believe that Micro Focus [microfocus.com] makes COBOL environments for either client/server or .NET and Acucorp [acucorp.com] also makes a PC based COBOL environment.

Re:Lawson's ERP runs on Cobol (1)

ksheff (2406) | more than 10 years ago | (#8722874)

So does PeopleSoft and lots of other 'Enterprise' systems. I seem to recall an article in one of those 'IT newspapers' a year or so back that said that 75% of the business logic in programs world wide is written in Cobol. Cobol programmers aren't going anywhere.

Re:Lawson's ERP runs on Cobol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8747445)

Pacifism can act more effectively against democracy than for it. -- George Orwell, 1941

This quote reminds me of Trotsky's Pacifism As The Servant of Imperialism [colorado.edu] somehow, though the argument comes from a perpendicular angle: "Pacifism is of the same historical lineage as democracy. ... The inherited failing of pacifism, however, was the fundamental evil which characterises bourgeois democracy."

Hoping I gave you some stuff to think about concering the shunning of pacifism in corporate states. (I could quote some fascist rethorics also, but lets not invoke Godwin's law.)

...and neither is my gramps (1)

manavendra (688020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8714635)

...he is just awaiting 'scriptization'...

Been there... (3, Insightful)

pamar (538061) | more than 10 years ago | (#8716106)

... done that, etc.

I've worked from 1988 to 1997, more or less, in large projects using varuious mixture of COBOL, C and so called 4GLs (Oracle).

Main "advantage" of COBOL should be that if you restrict usage to a given subset of the language you may have mediocre coders *and* a relatively low defect count.

Not much else to recommend it for, though.

The idea of using it for HTML generation is pretty ridicolous, because, at least in my experience, using COBOL doesn't really help you keeping a flexible mind about different "paradigms" and having to suddenly reason in terms of page requests, caching, static vs. dynamic etc. would probably be a little overwhelming for the skillset of the "existing workforce who already knows the language".

BSD, C (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8719665)

No, but BSD and C sure as shit are!

still awaiting... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 10 years ago | (#8719723)

assembler-script

Re:still awaiting... (2, Informative)

sinserve (455889) | more than 9 years ago | (#8727273)

Ask and ye shall recieve [worldonline.dk] .

even Eclipse IDE (2, Interesting)

Felipe Hoffa (141801) | more than 10 years ago | (#8720061)

I don't get it, but one of the official Eclipse projects is a COBOL IDE, including its debugger.

http://www.eclipse.org/cobol/ [eclipse.org]

If you want it, go fetch it, its open source.

Fh

Its not dead, (1)

GodLessOne (245117) | more than 9 years ago | (#8723911)

It just smells that way!

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?