#COBOL60: Your COBOL questions, answered – Part Three

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 final part of a three blog series, COBOL expert Ed Airey answers the last two of the 12 most popular:

Q11:  Despite being an intuitive, easy-to-learn language, new generation developers are not keen to work with COBOL, perhaps as a result of the ‘green screens’ still in use with many organizations. How can COBOL survive if newer developers prefer a newer language, or technology?

Micro Focus:  In short – everyone within the COBOL community must advocate for the continued use and value of COBOL technology. Why? Because too often, society equates ‘new’ with ‘better’ without considering the residual value of what already works.

The key is beginning early. By working with local universities, and supporting high and junior school programs, Micro Focus is promotes the value of COBOL skills and ensures next-gen developers have access to COBOL. Example? The Micro Focus COBOL Academic Program provides universities and technical schools with free access to courseware and software for education. Some Academic partners have been supporting a COBOL-focused curriculum for 20+ years.

While access is pivotal, perception matters, too. Today’s COBOL is as modern as any .NET or JVM-based language. Anyone using Visual Studio or Eclipse can work with it and acquire another, easily-achieved skill to add to their resume – a big plus for managers desperately looking for it. The technology is there – our job, as a community, is to advocate learning modern COBOL. A good first step is nominating a local university for The Program.

Q12:  One of COBOL’s downfalls is the ‘clunky’ 24X80 green screens.  Has anyone looked at modernizing the user interface? Or producing a more modern COBOL screen?

Micro Focus:  Newer COBOL technology simplifies clunky ‘green screens’ and offers a better way of working with mainframe COBOL or character-based screens by enabling integration with Visual Studio or Eclipse, so developers work within a GUI to build, test and deploy mainframe COBOL systems. Check out the dedicated web pages on the Micro Focus mainframe COBOL solution and the Micro Focus distributed COBOL solution.

Alternatively, Host Access solutions manage the transition from green screen to a more contemporary UI that enables end-user access to mainframe applications via web or mobile devices. Check out the Micro Focus mainframe access solution set.


In summary

So, to sum up; a great virtual event marked the official start to the #COBOL60 celebration. But the party isn’t over – we have a lot more planned for this year and beyond, including the Big COBOL Survey for 2020. Watch this space to learn more. Missed a blog? Check out blog 1 and blog 2.

For those that would like to connect with myself and Derek directly, we are on Twitter at: @DerekBrittonUK or @EdAirey and email at: Derek.Britton@microfocus.com and Ed.Airey@microfocuscom

Thanks again all.  Here’s to the next 60 years! – #COBOLRocks!


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