Why You Should Learn COBOL | TechWell

Why You Should Learn COBOL

Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) has been around since 1959 and, as ZDNet points out, has fallen prey to more popular programming languages when it comes to the next generation of programmers. In fact, 73 percent of colleges in the United States do not teach COBOL as a part of their curriculum. But, despite its reputation as being outdated and unable to keep up with modern programming languages, COBOL still accounts for more than 70 percent of the business transactions that take place in the world today.

COBOL is practically everywhere, and you interact with something that employs COBOL code nearly every day (think stoplights and ATMs). If that doesn’t give you enough reason to learn COBOL, then Ed Airey of Business 2 Community has compiled a list of reasons that will have you chomping at the bit to learn the programming language.

COBOL Is Easy to Learn
If you have a decent understanding of English, then chances are you will have a decent understanding of COBOL. Unlike some other programming languages, COBOL employs verbs and sentences that would make just as much sense in English as they do when writing lines of COBOL.

COBOL Isn’t Going Anywhere
COBOL is so engrained in our lives that it would prove expensive, risky, and time-consuming to try to replace it. Plus, the fact that COBOL integrates with nearly everything makes replacing it completely unnecessary. COBOL programs can be called by a majority of the current computer languages, and each new enterprise platform that emerges has aspects of COBOL applications. COBOL has been ported to just about every hardware platform in existence. Developers can write applications with COBOL and reuse them on new platforms with a negligible alteration.

COBOL Isn’t Going Anywhere, Seriously
COBOL erases the need for laborious documentation because the code is already extremely easy to read and maintain, allowing for easier changes. The fact that this drastically eases the burden of maintaining someone else’s code will keep COBOL use in popularity for awhile. Plus, COBOL applications can be developed in a number of the popular integrated development environments, such as Visual Studio, making working with COBOL that much easier and accessible.

COBOL Is Fast and Accurate
Procedural and not object-oriented, COBOL allows for straight-line data processing. Since COBOL can process from myriad data sources and provides direct language support for data files, COBOL can provide rapid access to data. Furthermore, COBOL offers mathematic exactness for up to 38 digits, which makes it a mainstay of the banking and insurance industries.

COBOL Will Open Doors
Learning COBOL allows you to expand your arsenal of programming knowledge. Since COBOL is often associated with other programming languages and business components, you’ll likely gain residual knowledge. This will make you prime for other opportunities related to working with COBOL. One last time: COBOL isn’t going anywhere! The continuing retirement of baby boomers and older developers creates a market for both entry-level and advanced positions with companies. Simply put, knowing COBOL can only help when it comes to advancing your career or getting a promising one started.

Does your company use COBOL? Why did you learn COBOL? Should COBOL still be taught to new generations of programmers? Tell us in the comments.

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