#COBOL60 Webinar – Then, Now & Next

by in Application Modernization & Connectivity

Despite decades of evolution and innovation, the industry continues to discuss COBOL’s relevance. Just one topic our guests debates and discussed in our webinar. The replay is now available, and host and moderator, Ed Airey offers this blog as a snapshot of the discussion with our COBOL experts.

The Guest Speakers

Russell Hollick: Chief Software Architect at SYSPRO, one of the largest privately owned ERP software vendors, with more than 40 years in the distribution and manufacturing enterprise space. Russell has worked with Micro Focus COBOL since 1984, and it remains the backbone of their solution. He helps his new developers use the latest Micro Focus COBOL toolsets.

Dr. Lisa Landgraf: Recently retired as Professor and educator at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville after more than 30 years in education. Lisa has written software for insurance, manufacturing and accounting systems, and worked with COBOL, and IBM RPG, for more than 30 years. 

Bob England: Bob has more than three decades of business application development experience, building dozens from scratch, and creating many successful commercial tools for business application development. He has helped modernize applications for companies across the globe, and worked extensively with modern COBOL.


Let’s take a closer look at a few questions addressed by our panel of special guests during the #COBOL60 Webinar – Then, Now and Next.

Does COBOL have an advantage over other programming languages?

Bob: It has so many advantages we often take them for granted. COBOL was built specifically for business application development, and the specialized tools offer portability, maintainability, readability, a vastly capable syntax and file system, excellent data handling, and more. Example? The COBOL MOVE statement, the foundational verb of the language, carries a vast amount of automatic functionality for converting data types and formatting data, incomparable to the assignment operator in other languages. Developers simply write a MOVE statement to get data from here to there and move on while developers in other languages must figure out how to parse, convert, or reformat the value.

Does COBOL have an important role to play in education today?

Lisa: I see high demand for COBOL programmers. There are so many developer tools and languages out there, the more students understand the make-up and rationale behind programming, including data, programs and how the two interact, the better they are at choosing those tools. Additionally, understanding relationships between data and programming languages (such as file updates/ record updates, redundant data, batch processing, data sharing) is key to choosing good tools. The University and larger educational programs continue to play a large role in teaching COBOL and shaping the next generation of business application developers.

What advice would you have for new graduates joining the IT workforce today?

Russell: My advice is to ignore most of what you have heard about COBOL and find out for yourself.

#COBOL60 Resources

The Micro Focus #COBOLRocks website has all the research, whitepapers, press articles, blogs and more, all available free.

Learn COBOL: It’s quick, easy and modern.

The full webinar replay has the full commentary. 

The COBOL Application & Modernization Bright Talk channel

The COBOL Programmers Facebook Group

The COBOL Special Interest Group, sponsored by VIVIT

The Micro Focus COBOL Community and

The COBOL Working Group through the Open Mainframe Project