Hackweek: When COBOL comes to life

No matter what Micro Focus does, we remain COBOL to our core. It is the language of business, the lifeblood of the enterprise – and the cornerstone of our organization. That’s why our new CEO, Chris Hsu, recently renewed our commitment to COBOL and our continued investment in R&D.

But being time-proven and durable isn’t always a positive. The same could be said of concrete. COBOL is different. It is evolving to meet the increasingly complex demands of the digital business. Examples of COBOL customer innovation are all around, but tend to happen in the background.

We were missing a single, unifying event that highlighted COBOL’s flexibility, rather than durability.

Say hello to Hackweek, a week in June that was dedicated to the COBOL community. It took more than 100 COBOL specialists  with more than 300 years of combined development experience (Micro Focus COBOL development and mainframe software teams and their managers) out of their design centres across Europe and the USA and into virtual and in-person working groups.

Hackweek – how it worked

Their brief was to create a raft of projects that proved the value of COBOL in the contemporary context. They would need to generate ideas and road test them using COBOL technologies and features; to create something awesome outside normal development schedules and processes.

But how would our intrepid innovators cope away their comfort zone? Would the technology build bridges and enable cross-team innovation? What benefits could our 10,000 customers expect?

Our developers’ objective was to create something tangible that would deliver innovation and customer impact. A team of judges from our Development and Product Management teams would decide the overall winner.

The developers embraced the Hackweek ethos, taking the opportunity for some ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, learning on the fly and exploring new technologies. They formed new teams for the week, working together on a shared idea, implementing new features or exploring interactions with new technologies ….

Ultimately, the devs submitted more than 35 diverse and creative projects with supporting videos (coming to our Community Site soon).

So who won? Essentially, while first prize went to Warren Prescott for his implementation of a File and Record Diff tool, there were 10,000 winners. Many of the innovations generated by Hackweek will become product features so all our COBOL customers stand to benefit. Some features are likely to appear as soon as the next release.

What’s your hack?

Check out our Community site for more information and the full list of winners and honourable mentions (including COBOL on Raspberry Pi, Mac, Azure File Storage to name but a few).

Why not suggest some challenges – and potential innovations – for our next Hackweek? We love a challenge.

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