#COBOL60: Your COBOL questions, answered – Part Two

At a recent Micro Focus-sponsored virtual event, more than 300 COBOL community members celebrated its 60th anniversary and by posing over 90 questions to our expert panel. In this, the second of three blogs, COBOL expert Ed Airey answers four more of the 12 most popular question themes:

Q5:  I am attempting to introduce Agile and DevOps methods around a COBOL mainframe system matured over decades. What should be the COBOL platform of choice in this process?

Micro Focus:  COBOL should run on platforms that align to the customer’s business strategy and future goals. With DevOps in the mix, the mainframe works alongside our latest modern development and testing tools. This whitepaper offers a closer look at Agile mainframe development and testing. Away from the mainframe? The same principles apply; current COBOL applications can plug into a Continuous Integration (CI) pipeline and DevOps toolchain including integration with Azure and AWS.

Q6:  How does object oriented (OO) COBOL fit the picture?

Micro Focus: OO COBOL is another example of COBOL’s continued evolution in supporting the latest IT technologies, and OO programming certainly aligns to some organizations’ development model and strategy. The Micro Focus COBOL technology line supports procedural, OO and managed code with many options – check out this dedicated on-demand video series for more.

Q7:  Where can we see the latest features of the COBOL language – is a demonstration available? How do I download a trial?

Micro Focus:  We have implemented some of the features required by our customers within the specification, plus a few extras. Vendor datasheets and technical specification documents carry a complete list of supported features. Want more on the latest Micro Focus COBOL technology lines? It’s all right here:

– Visual COBOL solution brochure and Visual COBOL datasheet
– Net Express / Server Express datasheet
– ACUCOBOL-GT / extend datasheet
– RM/COBOL datasheet
– COBOL-IT datasheets

Q8:  COBOL vendors rely 100% on making people believe there is no better option. COBOL no longer has that persona; how are you going to recapture it?

Micro Focus: Moving away from COBOL is rarely easy, often because the code is deeply entrenched in organizational core systems and application logic. Rewriting carries significant cost and risk; some move away, only to return to COBOL. COBOL meets the modern demands for dynamic web and mobile content, and interactive UIs; while maintaining the core values of precision, portability and performance. The latest version of COBOL uses industry standard IDEs such as Visual Studio and Eclipse, and deploys to any modern platform including .NET, Java and the Cloud.

Q9:  I left a 15+ year career in COBOL, both with mainframe and micro systems and now, 18 years later, while I know some new stuff (HTML/CSS/JQuery) my heart is still with COBOL. What would be a good path to get back into COBOL development, and how steep is the learning curve with the latest COBOL?

Micro Focus: The latest COBOL technology isn’t hard to master, and getting started is super-easy, with many tools, tutorials and systems available. We offer a free, one-year student developer license for Visual COBOL Personal Edition (VCPE). Created for developers to learn new skills, or refresh what they know, VCPE includes access to our online documentation library, a comprehensive set of on-demand You Tube videos and an online technical community provide help and quick answers. Your free digital copy of Visual COBOL: A developer’s guide to modern COBOL is 300 pages of tutorials, code samples and technical guidance for the COBOL, .NET and Java developer working with COBOL systems.


Q10:  I moved on from COBOL programming in the mid-80s to other opportunities in the 90s. How difficult is re-entering the COBOL world? Would employers would consider hiring a programmer who worked with COBOL 30 years ago? Has COBOL programming changed much in that time?

Micro Focus:  We often hear this at our #DevDay community events. Many business and commerce systems remain locked into COBOL applications, and digital commerce and IT transformation is fueling the drive to modernize their COBOL systems. So IT leaders need skilled workers to help with the transition to the new IT world. It is a significant opportunity for those willing to accept a challenge that goes beyond just leveraging COBOL, and requires an understanding of how the latest COBOL technology works alongside newer technology trends.

In our final blog, we look at another two questions from the COBOL expert panel and wrap up the Q and A session. Topics include keeping the COBOL flag flying into the future, and life beyond the green screens. If you missed the first blog, check it out right here.


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