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COBOL ? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Greetings. 

    I hope that Subject didn't scare anyone.  :)   

    I just have a general questions for some of you gurus.  I've been in IT for about 12 years wearing various hats.  The programming bug bit me a few years ago and I just havn't been the same since.. :)

    I'm getting ready to start classes in a couple weeks toward an Associates in programming.  Pretty good school all in all and I'll be getting to dig into .NET, the VS IDE, VB and C#.  

    BUT..   COBOL is one of the core class requirements.  My first instinct was to try and substitute with another if possible. If not, the thats fine. 

    But if substitution is an option I wanted to get some opinions from some Vets.  My long term goal is .NET, C#, ASP.NET, (that arena)

    Keeping my goals / objectives in mind, should I take COBOL even if I don't have to ?  Would it be beneificial in anyway  ? Pros ?  Cons ?

    Looking forward to hearing thoughts.

    Thanks in Advance.

    Snydley

    Friday, August 1, 2008 5:46 PM

Answers

  • I am very surprised that COBOL is a requirement for the program; I'm sure that the only purpose is to guarantee that students entering have a basic understanding of programming.

    If they don't let you substitute other knowledge, then that particular degree program may be specifically tailored for older programmers who only have COBOL on their toolbelt.  If that's the case, consider finding another program/school.

    However, I do have one aside about the general topic:
    When I first started my college, they were teaching Java 1.4.  The next year, it was Java 1.5.  This coming year, it's Java 1.6 and Python 2.5.  The technology and industry changes so quickly that any technology-specific skills you learn in a degree program will be out of date probably when you graduate. 

    The key for evaluating a good program is not the specific hard-skills, like C#, but the concepts (threading/deadlocks, networking, SOA, algorithm efficiency evaluation, user interface design, etc), as they apply to whatever particular technology you'll be using.
    Friday, August 1, 2008 8:30 PM
  • I have to say, I don't think much of the course curriculum.  It seems to be designed to allow the student to put bullet items on her resume.  With focus spread over so many different languages, you'll end up not knowing any of them well enough to put into practice.  If the bullets are what you're after, then by all means, add Cobol to it.

    The goal of any reputable educational institute should be whacking the brain of the student into shape to be able to think in a manner that allows her to solve a problem with an algorithm and a design methodology.  If a student was previously exposed to a language like Cobol or Fortran, that always involves applying a good sized 2 by 4, repeatedly.  There is nothing in Cobol that helps it shape the brain of the student.  Quite the opposite, there is a great danger of it polluting the mind irreparably.  The great Edsger Dijkstra was instrumental in making this a widely accepted notion, four decades ago. His crusade was largely successful, Cobol is practiced by only 0.4% of all programmers today.  Studying it is a waste of your time and money.

    Hans Passant.
    • Marked as answer by Rudedog2 Saturday, January 14, 2012 10:40 PM
    Saturday, August 2, 2008 2:13 PM
  • Pro - you might gain an appriciation for the terse nature of C-style languages :)  COBOL is very wordy.

    I don't see how cobol could hurt you really - and in fact, though I have never had to program in COBOL outside of my university courses - the basic knowledge of COBOL has come in handy a few times.  I used to do a lot of custom data import/export programs for clients to 3rd party systems and often the format specifications were COBOL data defintions... 
    Tom Shelton
    Friday, August 1, 2008 6:22 PM
  • COBOL knowledge would have been a Pro for the conversion projects that I did from COBOL to C#. But on the other hand I never learnt COBOL in college and COBOL being COBOL, I could understand the logic because it is so readable.
    But learning anything can never have any Cons.

    But on the other hand if COBOL is an elective, maybe you should post the other choices and you can get an insight from the forum as to which is suitable.


    Anuja MCSD
    Friday, August 1, 2008 6:55 PM
  • I don't know if this lore will help or hurt or be indifferent but COBOL is an old programming language designed by the DOD I believe right after FORTRAN, next came PL1. It was very widely used in commercial applications. It is not OO. It is definitely obsolete,  Right befoe Y2K it was realized that a lot of programs were written in COBOL and many companies as well as the gov scrambled to find people who could figure out what they did and were able to translate to modernity. They hired scores of East European emigres who by the virue of the backwardness of computing over there still had fresh skills. Entire halls in New York City were filled with foreign speaking individuals who had a one-time opportunity to make good bucks. Naturally it di dnot last long. It was a story in NY Times.

    You don't need it at all. I am surprised people still remember it.
    AlexB
    Friday, August 1, 2008 7:19 PM

All replies

  • Pro - you might gain an appriciation for the terse nature of C-style languages :)  COBOL is very wordy.

    I don't see how cobol could hurt you really - and in fact, though I have never had to program in COBOL outside of my university courses - the basic knowledge of COBOL has come in handy a few times.  I used to do a lot of custom data import/export programs for clients to 3rd party systems and often the format specifications were COBOL data defintions... 
    Tom Shelton
    Friday, August 1, 2008 6:22 PM
  • Thanks a bunch for your thoughts Tom.  So far so good regarding the Pro's and Con's.

    I respect the knowlege of those of you that have been doing this for awhile and I really would love to hear some more thoughts on this.

    Can anyone else help me out ?

    Thanks
    Friday, August 1, 2008 6:31 PM
  • COBOL knowledge would have been a Pro for the conversion projects that I did from COBOL to C#. But on the other hand I never learnt COBOL in college and COBOL being COBOL, I could understand the logic because it is so readable.
    But learning anything can never have any Cons.

    But on the other hand if COBOL is an elective, maybe you should post the other choices and you can get an insight from the forum as to which is suitable.


    Anuja MCSD
    Friday, August 1, 2008 6:55 PM
  • Thanks Anuja,

    COBOL is currently defined as a requirement for this program at this time.  I'm in discussions with the school regarding the possibilities of substitutions.

    If it's decided that I can substitute, then I'll post options as you suggested.

    I really appreciate yours and Tom's comments.  As a result, I may just lean toward going ahead and taking it.   Then moving on to C#, VB and all the other programming classes and related classes that are on the list.

    I don't want to wear out my welcome, and I won't,  but I would like to leave this open just for a little bit longer in hopes someone else would be kind enough to provide their thoughts as well.

    So, looking forward to hearing some more on this.

    Thanks

     

     

     

     

     



     

    Friday, August 1, 2008 7:05 PM
  • I don't know if this lore will help or hurt or be indifferent but COBOL is an old programming language designed by the DOD I believe right after FORTRAN, next came PL1. It was very widely used in commercial applications. It is not OO. It is definitely obsolete,  Right befoe Y2K it was realized that a lot of programs were written in COBOL and many companies as well as the gov scrambled to find people who could figure out what they did and were able to translate to modernity. They hired scores of East European emigres who by the virue of the backwardness of computing over there still had fresh skills. Entire halls in New York City were filled with foreign speaking individuals who had a one-time opportunity to make good bucks. Naturally it di dnot last long. It was a story in NY Times.

    You don't need it at all. I am surprised people still remember it.
    AlexB
    Friday, August 1, 2008 7:19 PM
  • Thanks Alex.

    Well, from the first two replies, I was feeling pretty good about going ahead and taking it.

    You've now added a difference of opinion which I was welcoming. 

    Anyone else that would like to add to this would be much appreciated.

    Thanks

    Friday, August 1, 2008 7:45 PM
  • I wanted to add that the reason for this post / question in this category is because the language I want to eventually focus on / my goals and objectives is C#.

    Thanks in advance.
    Friday, August 1, 2008 8:20 PM
  • I am very surprised that COBOL is a requirement for the program; I'm sure that the only purpose is to guarantee that students entering have a basic understanding of programming.

    If they don't let you substitute other knowledge, then that particular degree program may be specifically tailored for older programmers who only have COBOL on their toolbelt.  If that's the case, consider finding another program/school.

    However, I do have one aside about the general topic:
    When I first started my college, they were teaching Java 1.4.  The next year, it was Java 1.5.  This coming year, it's Java 1.6 and Python 2.5.  The technology and industry changes so quickly that any technology-specific skills you learn in a degree program will be out of date probably when you graduate. 

    The key for evaluating a good program is not the specific hard-skills, like C#, but the concepts (threading/deadlocks, networking, SOA, algorithm efficiency evaluation, user interface design, etc), as they apply to whatever particular technology you'll be using.
    Friday, August 1, 2008 8:30 PM
  • Hey Carson,

    To clarify, this program just has COBOL as one of the core classes.  In addition to this core, I'll also be working within the VS08 IDE, .NET, VB, C#, C++, etc.  So, they're all over the new stuff.

    Maybe you hit the nail on the head tje nail on the head with the "basic understanding of programming".
    Which is exactly the reason for this post.  Regardless of the fact that COBOL is still in use in a big way and probably will be for a very long time, I plan on eventually focusing on .NET, C#, etc.

    In your opinion, is one COBOL class going to benficial in some way ?   Especially in regard to "having a basic understanding of programming" ?
    Friday, August 1, 2008 8:43 PM
  • Snydley said:

    In your opinion, is one COBOL class going to benficial in some way ?   Especially in regard to "having a basic understanding of programming" ?


    I agree with AlexBB.
    Friday, August 1, 2008 11:44 PM
  • I will bet a hundred dollars that there is not a single individual in the US who knows COBOL and uses it for any practical design except for some college professors, especially at major schools who have always been 15 steps behind modern times. And proud of it.
    AlexB
    Saturday, August 2, 2008 12:01 AM
  • I have to say, I don't think much of the course curriculum.  It seems to be designed to allow the student to put bullet items on her resume.  With focus spread over so many different languages, you'll end up not knowing any of them well enough to put into practice.  If the bullets are what you're after, then by all means, add Cobol to it.

    The goal of any reputable educational institute should be whacking the brain of the student into shape to be able to think in a manner that allows her to solve a problem with an algorithm and a design methodology.  If a student was previously exposed to a language like Cobol or Fortran, that always involves applying a good sized 2 by 4, repeatedly.  There is nothing in Cobol that helps it shape the brain of the student.  Quite the opposite, there is a great danger of it polluting the mind irreparably.  The great Edsger Dijkstra was instrumental in making this a widely accepted notion, four decades ago. His crusade was largely successful, Cobol is practiced by only 0.4% of all programmers today.  Studying it is a waste of your time and money.

    Hans Passant.
    • Marked as answer by Rudedog2 Saturday, January 14, 2012 10:40 PM
    Saturday, August 2, 2008 2:13 PM