Before I start narrating about importance or non-importance of COBOL, I’d like to say a couple of words concerning what COBOL really means, and give some basic facts about it. Actually, COBOL is an acronym. Its full name is Common Business Oriented Language. COBOL is a computer language which was designed in 1960s to satisfy growing needs of business in writing programs that work with large amount of documents and files, and in making reports. This program is available for personal computers as well as large business companies’ usage.
Though some of scientists studying the usage of COBOL state that it is slowing down and in several years only a few businesses will be using this program, COBOL and its applications still continue to prevail in major areas of business. COBOL programs are used worldwide for purposes of military forces, government, and a lot of major businesses. This program supports different forms of representation of numbers (binary-coded decimal is included). According to article “What Professionals think of the Future of COBOL?” by Dr. Ronald J. Kizior and Donald Carr “between 150 to 200 billion lines of COBOL code are used in today’s business applications with several billion lines of new COBOL application code added annually” . To decide whether COBOL is still being used and by how many businesses, there has been held a survey to answer this question. It has been found out that about 87 percent of questioned businesses still keep up with COBOL and continue to develop code written in the COBOL language. The survey also shows that nowadays businesses need to hire COBOL programmers to manage the program, thus there’s a necessity to lecture COBOL to IS students.
Now, I’d like to say a couple of words about advantages and disadvantages of using COBOL program. As any other computer language COBOL has its own followers and enemies, who try to blacken its reputation. The main purpose of developing COBOL was to facilitate the process of programming by inventing computer language that would be similar to English language. From the first sight this idea seems very good. But unfortunately programming supports different goals rather than associating of program with a particular language. The main and the most difficult task of programming is to reduce complicated calculations to a series of simple steps. That’s why many critics of COBOL state that COBOL enlarges the size of programs, thus increasing the process of thinking. Among the advantages of COBOL are good specifications, capacity of perfect self-documenting, high-quality methods of handling files and others. But the most important features of COBOL that make it so popular are “new object-oriented and web-based capabilities” .
According to survey 90 percent of IS managers that took part in it showed a need for graduators with knowledge and skills of working with COBOL applications.
To make a conclusion I’d like to say the following. Though COBOL is being criticized by some of scientists, it will still continue to be widely used in the field of business, and not only business.