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Programming IT

COBOL Will Outlive Us All 318

Posted by Soulskill
from the lords-of-cobol-hear-our-prayers dept.
jfruh writes "Here's an old computer science joke: What's the difference between hardware and software? If you use hardware long enough, it breaks. If you use software long enough, it works. The truth behind that is the reason that so much decades-old COBOL code is out there still driving crucial applications at banks and other huge companies. Many attempts to replace COBOL applications flopped in the 1980s and '90s, and we're stuck with them for the foreseeable future — but the Baby Boomers who wrote all that code are now retiring en masse."
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COBOL Will Outlive Us All

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  • Re:Batch (Score:5, Funny)

    by grh_angelone (1269828) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:29AM (#42881427)
    I hate it. Stupidest language of all time. I'm trying to convert all these crap programs to nicely done RPG IV, but its a Don Quijote task. I hate the fact, that file access can only be done in 50 lines of code. String operations are total nonsense, ever tried to get a string rightaligned? RPG file access via chain is done in 5-6 lines including the definition of the file and rightalign via evalr().
  • by ae1294 (1547521) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:35AM (#42881451) Journal

    All of this has happened before and will happen again...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @07:04AM (#42881865)

    Not to me it wont! As an ex cobol programmer I have a no resuscitation card for cobol emergencies card to be buried with me.

  • by paiute (550198) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @07:17AM (#42881941)

    So get that manual out, and have a try!

    These seem to me like famous last words, almost as dangerous as the classic "Hold my beer and watch this!"

  • by Pope Raymond Lama (57277) <(gwidion) (at) (mpc.com.br)> on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @07:22AM (#42881963) Homepage

    as will Java, the new Cobol. So what?

  • by jythie (914043) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @07:39AM (#42882105)
    Heh. In my job search I have actually been, well, surprised might not be the right word, but amused, at all the COBOL, FORTRAN, and mainframe postings. One thing I think they are getting themselves into trouble with though is all the postings I have seen require decades of experience in the technology, so they seem to be trying to replace retiring boomers with similarly skilled people, but not creating entry level or training paths.
  • by MikeLip (797771) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @07:55AM (#42882225)
    As a guy who worked on some pretty complex financial software, I can tell you this; If you come to a company and say "Hey, look. Your software is outdated, and just not cool anymore. Let us fix it." They will say "OK, how much will it cost, how many times will you screw up (and you WILL) and how much will it cost in lost productivity, development and training time?" In other words, prove to me that the cost and risk outweighs the benefits of leaving my not-cool but working structure in place? Know what? You can't. When you are talking about financials, companies are justifiably VERY risk-averse. And yeah, people laughed at COBOL when I was coding, and even back in the 70s when I was learning. This is an old argument and the fact is COBOL will be around a very long time whether our new compsci grads like it much or not. They aren't paying the bills and looking at cash flow. They just see all that legacy code and say they could do it better. Maybe you can. But you're not gonna.
  • Re:Batch (Score:5, Funny)

    by johnnyb (4816) <jonathan@bartlettpublishing.com> on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @08:08AM (#42882319) Homepage

    The real problem with COBOL is that, as Larry Wall has pointed out, you can't write poetry with it. There just isn't any good poetry that starts out with IDENTIFICATION SECTION.

    The one thing I do miss about COBOL is easy access to fixed-point numeric processing. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is still missing from nearly every language.

  • Re:Batch (Score:5, Funny)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@Nos ... t-retrograde.com> on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:05AM (#42882811)

    There once was an IDENTIFICATION SECTION
    Preceding a formula that defied all reflection.
    Using all the chem-lab's powers,
    it ran longer than four hours,
    To make pills that promoted erection!

  • Re:Batch (Score:5, Funny)

    by telchine (719345) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:36AM (#42883197)

    It just turns out those particular qualities are highly sought after in many large companies.

    It keeps its head down, doesn't rock the boat and never asks for a pay rise?

  • Re:Batch (Score:5, Funny)

    by mabhatter654 (561290) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:49AM (#42883343)

    RPG vs COBOL!!!

    Fight! Fight!
    Canes and walkers allowed... No punching the kolostamy bag.

  • Re:Batch (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:57AM (#42883453)

    There once was an IDENTIFICATION SECTION

    Preceding a formula that defied all reflection.

    Using all the chem-lab's powers,

    it ran longer than four hours,

    To make pills that promoted erection!

    ...Burma Shave

  • by mapsjanhere (1130359) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:02AM (#42883537)
    You're missing the main point - programmer productivity. You know how hard it is to surf porn on a VT100?
  • Re:Batch (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:46AM (#42884041)

    IDENTIFICATION DIVISON.
    PROGRAM ID. A COBOL FABLE.
    SECURITY. INSECURE.
    PROGRAMMER-ID. ARTHUR SHAPIRO.
    REMARKS. SLIGHTLY MORE MANGLED VERSION OF ONE IN JAN., 1968
    DATAMATION.
    DATE WRITTEN. ONCE UPON A TIME.

    ENVIRONMENT DIVISON.
    CONFIGURATION SECTION.
    OBJECT COMPUTER. ANY MUSIC BOX, MEMORY SIZE 8X64 BYTES,
    19 TAPE DRIVES, 11 DISK DRIVES, 1 GOLDILOCKS, 3 BEARS.
    INPUT-OUTPUT SECTION.
    FILE-CONTROL.
    SELECT TAPE DRIVES, ASSIGN THEM TO CREDITOR.
    SELECT DISK DRIVES.
    SELECT GOLDILOCKS, SELECT BEARS, ASSIGN TO ONE COTTAGE.
    I-O CONTROL.
    APPLY RED TAPE TO TAPE DRIVES, APPLY BRAHMS RECORD TO DISK DRIVE,
    APPLY GOLDI, BEARS TO COTTAGE.
    DATA DIVISON.
    FD GOLDI.
    LABEL RECORDS ARE STANDARD
    VALUE OF IDENTIFACTION IS "GOLDILOCKS"
    DATA RECORD IS GOLDILOCKS.
    01 GOLDILOCKS.
    02 HGT SIZE IS 62 INS.
    02 WGT SIZE IS 110 LBS.
    02 VITAL-STATS.
    03 B 38.
    03 W 24.
    03 H 36.
    02 RATING 100%.
    FD THREE-BEARS.
    LABEL RECORDS ARE STANDARD
    VALUE OF IDENTIFICATION IS "BEARS"
    DATA RECORDS ARE DADDY-BEAR, MUMMY-BEAR, BABY-BEAR.
    01 DADDY-BEAR.
    02 HGT 70 INS.
    02 WGT 750 LBS.
    02 COLOR-OF-EYES BLOODSHOT.
    02 DISPOSITION UNBEARABLE.
    01 MUMMY-BEAR.
    02 HGT 65 INS.
    02 WGT 700 LBS.
    02 COLOR-OF-EYES BLUE.
    02 DISPOSITION BEARABLE.
    01 BABY-BEAR.
    02 HGT 40 INS.
    02 DISPOSITION INFANTILE.
    WORKING-STORAGE SECTION.
    01 COTTAGE PICTURE IS COZY.
    02 KITCHEN.
    03 TABLE SIZE IS LARGE, VALUE IS 1.
    03 CHAIRS SIZE IS MEDIUM, VALUE IS 3.
    02 PORRIDGE.
    03 KING-SIZE OCCURS 1 TIME.
    03 QUEEN-SIZE OCCURS 1 TIME.
    03 PRINCE-SIZE OCCURS 1 TIME.
    02 DOOR SIZE IS USUAL, VALUE IS OPEN.
    02 BEDROOM.
    03 BED.
    04 LARGE OCCURS 1 TIME.
    04 MEDIUM OCCURS 1 TIME.

  • Re:Batch (Score:4, Funny)

    by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @12:12PM (#42885085) Homepage

    It didn't start with IDENTIFICATION SECTION, so your example doesn't hold. But here's one:

    IDENTIFICATION SECTION delightfully leading to nouns and verbs of magic...
    In COBOL!!!
    A language for managers, a language for all -
    Bits of love, bytes of affection, words of poetry, identifying sections of paradise.
    Programming, motherfucker!
    Do you speak it?

  • Re:Batch (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @01:18PM (#42885793)

    As keeper of the OpenCOBOL FAQ, I'll beg to differ.

    Here is a 3 line compilable 5-7-5 un-haiku

    PROGRAM-ID. ONE
    PROCEDURE DIVISION. ADD.
    1 TO RETURN-CODE.

  • Re:Batch (Score:4, Funny)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @03:08PM (#42887215) Journal

    Ah yes, COBOL poetry. The fourth worst poetry in the universe.

Moneyliness is next to Godliness. -- Andries van Dam

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