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The Open Mainframe Project releases COBOL learning course

The Open Mainframe Project has launched a new open COBOL programming course. It offers entry-level COBOL training using state-of-the-art tools.

The Open Mainframe Project has launched a new open COBOL programming course. It offers entry-level COBOL training using state-of-the-art tools.

The Open Mainframe Project was founded in 2015 to provide coordination for the deployment and use of Linux and open source on mainframes. The goal is to make mainframes more developer-friendly by providing a “transparent experience of taking advantage of mainframes”.

The COBOL curriculum was developed jointly by COBOL experts from American River College, IBM, and their clients.

It operates within the Open Mainframe Project as an open source project “to encourage further interaction and further use”. The authors describe the need to understand COBOL as follows:

“Most financial institutions, banks, insurance companies, retailers and governments need systems that must flawlessly process huge volumes of transactions every day. Mainframes have been quietly driving this process for decades because their reliability, availability, security, scalability and performance are unmatched.”

While these core systems run in Java, Python, and other languages, part of those core systems is COBOL, a robust, proven programming language that has helped run some of the most important service applications in the world’s largest companies. An estimated 220 billion lines of COBOL are in use today, and recent events have demonstrated the ongoing need for developers who are proficient in the language.

The course is intended for developers or students who would like to learn the COBOL language using the Microsoft Visual Studio Code Editor and Zowe, IBM Z Open Editor, Code4z Extension Pack, and other extensions. The course materials provide an overview of the language and real-life Enterprise COBOL demos that you can work with. It also offers more advanced topics such as dynamic length elements, multithreading, and advanced language elements, as well as hands-on activities to help you learn.

COBOL (“common business-oriented language”) is a compiled computer programming language designed for business use. It is an imperative, procedural and, since 2002, an object-oriented language. COBOL is mainly used in business, financial and administrative systems for companies and governments. COBOL is still widely used in mainframe applications such as large scale batch and transaction processing jobs. However, due to its declining popularity and the retirement of experienced COBOL programmers, the programs are being moved to new platforms, rewritten into modern languages, or replaced with specialized software packages. Much of COBOL programming is now exclusively dedicated to supporting existing applications; however, many large financial institutions were still developing new COBOL systems as late as 2006.

COBOL was developed in 1959 by the CODASYL committee. The language is based in part on the FLOW-MATIC programming language, previously developed by Grace Hopper. Due to her active participation in the development of this language, Grace Hopper is often referred to as the “grandmother of Cobol”. Cobol was originally developed as part of the US Department of Defense’s effort to create a portable programming language for data processing. At the time, this was seen as a temporary solution, but the Department of Defense immediately forced computer manufacturers to implement Kobol compilers on Department-supplied machines, which led to its widespread adoption. The language was standardized in 1968 and has since been revised four times. Extensions include support for structured and object-oriented programming. The development of the language is still ongoing, the last accepted standard was approved in 2014.

Course materials are available on GitHub.

COBOL Programming Course on GitHub:
Platform: coding
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