Is COBOL holding you hostage with Math?
Marianne Bellotti
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A lot of the advantage of using Cobol for business applications also has to do with automatic formatting of edited data. Not only is the math typically simple to code, the results can we used without conversion, rounding routines or other function coding prior to use. Arguments I typically hear against Cobol are from those who have never used it, and they typically have an extreme bias against it based on what they have heard some professor say or someone who grew up on Microsoft languages and are not familiar with anything else based on personal knowledge. Cobol compiler companies have modernized Cobol as much as any other language in the last 20 years, plus it is very C/C++ friendly if you need to control the hardware with a means not already available as a built-in language extension — which are considerable. It can be OO, used with GUI interfaces, access system calls and utilities, process in-line SQL calls for any db, call almost any API - web or otherwise, run multiple processes, call and be called from other languages, handle socket routines, runs on almost any hardware platform and operating system of significance, and many many other “modern” features. I develop in Cobol, Javascript and several other web languages, C/C++, VB, VBA, a little Java and C#, and Phython as well as other scripting languages, and others. Cobol belongs in the category of “use the language that produces the best result for the given task”. When it comes to business applications, none of the other languages I have used can do a better job. One could use any language for 99% of the business applications, but only one was specifically built for it. So do not fall into the trap of thinking it is still your grandfather’s Cobol just because you heard it was, read it was, it was not taught when you were in college, or some language bigot said it was. It is not.

Cobol legacy applications can be modernized without being rewritten, the same as any other legacy application originally written in an older language. Almost anything written more than 5 years ago is now practically a legacy app if measured by the fact that it was not written in one of the proliferation of new designer languages. Legacy Cobol apps are not rewritten because it makes no justifiable economic sense. Not for any other reason.