What’s Next for COBOL

By February 3, 2021Blog, COBOL

Written by Open Mainframe Project COBOL Training Team Members Sudharsana Srinivasan, IBM;Mike Bauer, Broadcom; and Paul Newton, IBM

One can safely say 2020 was one for the books! A lot happened, notably COBOL was in the spotlight and widely debated. All said and done, what Prof Tak Auyeung said at the COBOL course launch webinar is spot on, “Programming language isn’t a fashion statement”.

COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language) is an English-like business programming language that quietly runs the world’s economy – you use it every day and you don’t even know it. That’s the beauty and power of COBOL.

In collaboration with American River College (ARC) and some of its clients, IBM worked on a COBOL Course, for the next generation of COBOLers – students, developers, lifelong learners and just about anyone who is curious & ready to learn. The course leverages tooling such as Visual Studio Code, Z Open Editor, Code4z and Zowe with a goal to have content that ensured learners stayed focused on learning COBOL!

Since the launch of the course in April 2020, as part of the Open Mainframe Project, we have grown an engaged, enthusiastic community of learners with over 2000 members in the course slack channel.

A quick recap of what we accomplished in 2020:

  • Structured the course repository to have three courses
    • Getting Started – Course focuses on helping folks learning COBOL, no experience required!
    • Advanced Topics – Course delves deeper into the arithmetic and logical operations in COBOL, middleware interaction, real-world challenges, and more.
    • Testing – This course has not yet been officially released but is intended to focus on automated testing as it relates to COBOL programs.
  • Created a Technical Steering Committee (TSC) to help engage with and guide the COBOL community through their learning journey.
    • Monthly TSC meetings were held to get ongoing and continued inputs from the community
    • Guest speakers shared their experience with the course, related topics, etc.
    • Issue and Pull Request moderation
    • Periodically released official PDFs to incorporate key updates being shared by the community

Looking ahead in 2021:

  • We will build out the Testing course that is intended to focus on automated testing as it relates to COBOL programs.
  • We are eager to have continued engagement and participation from the growing COBOL community.
  • We look forward to onboarding an OMP Summer intern to work on the COBOL project.
  • We will continue to collaborate with other OMP projects – Zowe, COBOL Working Group, COBOL-check and more.

This creates several opportunities for community members to contribute and share their big ideas. Join us here to get started on your COBOL journey!