A snapshot of the state of COBOL

COBOL has been around 53 years and counting…can you believe it?  In 2010, The Smithsonian celebrated COBOL’s 50th anniversary with a new site.

You can read about COBOL at the National Museum of American History

In my work, I have encountered customers that are looking to re-engineer their COBOL applications but don’t understand really what they have with their COBOL programs.  Yes, they may understand the input’s and output’s to their programs but rarely do you find the expertise to reveal the “Business Rules” that are buried within the thousands of lines of code that run the businesses.   The in-house COBOL experts, sadly to say, are getting close to retiring, or actually have retired.   I have encountered situations where COBOL programmers are actually afraid of revealing their knowledge of the COBOL programs worried they may be asked to retire earlier than they want.  I have even encountered situations where retired COBOL programmers have been asked to rejoin the company as a consultant.

With so many things going on, the one thing that remains consistent is the need to understand the many, many, many COBOL environment repositories that exist in the corporate world today!  And, there are many!  The work is not only to document but to help maintain systems that were here 30, or 40+ years ago and will more than likely be here for a very long time from now.  This is one of the things I do and one of my passions.

There are many tools and applications (some small, some large) that have tried to encompass the idea of providing an analysis of a COBOL environment.  I hope to blog about the tools I’ve come across and in particular I want to share about the GDT Portfolio Analysis tool that was created by the COBOLZombies team.

I want to share my experience because I love this stuff.

Fun articles: The Atlantic: Smithsonian Celebrates COBOL 50th With a New Site

Wikipedia: COBOL