Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL)


cobol

The programming world, is definitely a very good arena to explore today and deliver, the most state of the art and up to date applications.

Some people, have the brain capacity to program, and other people have the heart to never give up even though they don’t know what they are doing. You do need to know what you are doing though, heart won’t be enough and you will be heart broken, if you really on your heart alone.

If you don't know what you are doing, or if you work, with people who don't know what they are doing, it could be a nightmare for you, and you could learn to hate all of your life, due to coding alone. Yes my fellow readers, if you don’t know what you are doing when you code, you could face depressive states in your lives, due to coding

In today's article, we are going to be talking about the Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL), a programming language, which has many important features, for developing applications in the business world.

The programming language, COBOL, was developed, in 1960 by the CODASYL committee, which stands for Conference on Data System Language.

COBOL is a high level programming language, which has been taken over by the American National Institute, to receive new standards so that it is always updated.

The Common Business Oriented Language, which is what COBOL stands for, indicates that COBOL is usually used to develop business and file oriented applications.

System programs, such as operating systems or compilers, are not usually developed with COBOL.

No other programming language have been able to compete with COBOL, because COBOL has not been displaced as the main programming language, in the business computing domain, for over four decades. Although languages such as C, C++, Pascal, PL1, Algo68, Ada and Modula, have tried to replace COBOL, they have not succeeded. Many software companies and individual programmers, have also tried to compete with COBOL, but to no avail.

The programming languages, which have been seriously contending with COBOL though, have been Java and Visual Basic.

However, these two programming languages, have yet to reach, COBOL’s level of popularity, among developers, to develop business applications.

The beautiful thing about COBOL, is that supervisors, managers and users, can learn to easily use the COBOL programming language, but they do have to do some research and work to grasp the general idea, behind COBOL.

COBOL, was designed to be easy to understand, which resulted in COBOL having, the similar structural elements of the English language, such as verbs, clauses, sentences and sections.

COBOL is a very simple language to learn, but you have to do your research, and you need to do your reading.

Also, don't quit, whenever you encounter an obstacle or that big programming wall, which you will encounter, so don’t you ever quit. All of the obstacles you will face in a programming language, are made to make you a stronger and better programmer.

Therefore, continue to program, and enjoy it, because once you create your application, you will most definitely be satisfied and more importantly, you would be a better programmer and will continue to want to develop other applications.

You do need to understand programming, at its most basic level though, because today programming languages has become, way too complex, for just anyone to understand them, including the COBOL programming language.

Although, everyone won't be able to understand COBOL without difficulty, this programming language is still the most readable, understandable, self-documenting programming language you will find in today's, programming arena.

COBOL is easy for programmer, because it is also the most verbose programming language, which exist today.

Verbose means lots of symbols, while other programming languages are known as terse which means fewer symbols.

This has a lot to do with ease of reading or ease of understanding.

Some folks find verbose COBOL easy to read, while others find it confusing, because so many symbols are required to do so little.

Applications, developed with COBOL, are easy to maintain and upgrade, even when some people find this programming language hard to understand.

Learn COBOL, so that you have an easy, yet powerful programming language, under your belt; because with COBOL, you will be able to develop business applications easily and make lots of money, once you of course, you have paid the price.

The easy readability of COBOL, assists in the
maintenance process, of this programming language as well, also the readability of your COBOL program, becomes more valuable, as it gets older, because people are able to learn it with ease.

It is very difficult, to maintain programs, written in C, C++ or Java, over time; therefore, maintaining a program that was written by COBOL, would be more appreciated than, these other high level programming languages, which exist today.

One of the reasons, why it is easy to deal with COBOL over time is that, when you come back six month later, to programs written in C or C++, it is difficult to go back to the code, look at it and fix whatever, it is that you want fix on it.

Even when you use, tools and resources found online, to support these programming languages, you’d still have a hard time, trying to understand your own code.

If the program is written, by someone else, years prior, it would be even more difficult, for you understand the code.

It is a nightmare, to have to deal and maintain a program that was conceived, by others and the documentation for the code, no longer accurately describes, that code, because the code has been changed in so many ways.

The simplicity of COBOL, will help you resolve many of these issues, because COBOL has no pointer, no user defined function, no user defined types, and has a limited scope of functions; therefore, it is very simple to work with COBOL, for most programmers.

The programming style of COBOL is straightforward, and it is at the same time, well suited to solve targeted problems, in the world of business computation.

The complexity of most programs written in COBOL, lies in the business rules, which are encoded, within the program, the data structures of the algorithms required, don't have to be as sophisticated, as one may think.

Object-Oriented programming with COBOL (OO-COBOL), is a little bit more different, than just plain COBOL, for example in OO-COBOL, there is no limited scope of function.

OO-COBOL also includes User Defined Functions, Object Orientation, National Characters – Unicode, Multiple Currency Symbols, Cultural Adaptability (Locales), Dynamic Memory Allocation (pointers), Data Validation Using New VALIDATE Verb, Binary and Floating Point Data Types and User Defined Data Types as well as the functions found in the previous versions of COBOL.

The features mentioned above, makes OO-COBOL a bit more challenging to grasp.

The syntax of COBOL is defined using a particular notation called the COBOL MetaLanguage, sometimes.

Any words you see in COBOL, which is in upper case, is a reserved word.

If they are not underlined, they are used for readability only, known as “noise” words, and are optional, however, if the word is underlined, it means that it is a mandatory word.

You will find that COBOL has many “noise” words, because COBOL statements, are supposed to be read similarly to English sentences.

A choice must be made, when you see several lines of code, enclosed in curly braces; however, when there is only one option, then a choice don't have to be made, that option would be a required option.

The lines of code are optional, if it is enclosed in square brackets, the lines of code in square brackets, may be included or omitted according to the requirements.

At the programmer's discretion, preceding syntax elements may be repeated, when the ellipsis symbol or three dots (...) is present.

Certain archaic formatting restrictions, are required, within some implementations of COBOL, and modern types of COBOL have introduced many constructs, required, to write well-structured programming.

You will also find that COBOL, is structured into, the program, the division, the sections, paragraphs, sentences and statements.

The divisions is divided into four parts, and are used to identify the principal components of the program text.

The four parts of the divisions of COBOL are: identification division, environment division, data division, and procedure division.

The information about the program you find in COBOL, is supplied by the identification division, to the programmer and to the compiler.

A description in which the program would run, is supplied by the environment division, to the compiler.

The description of most of the data that is processed, by the program, is provided by the data division.

The description of the algorithm, which manipulates the processed data is provided by the procedure division.

In COBOL a section is usually a block of code, which make up one or more paragraphs.

Sections begin with the name of the section, ending with the next section name or where the program text ends.

You would define a section name, with a name of your choice, followed by the word SECTION.

Paragraphs, are also part of your section, because, a paragraph is a block of code, which is made up of one or more sentences.

In order for you to define a paragraph, you would simply name it.

Once the program encounters the next paragraph name, then it would know, that it is the end of your previous paragraph.

You will find that COBOL is a high-level language, which must first be converted into machine code using a compiler.

The compiler, makes sure that you code is syntax error free, before it converts your code into, machine language.

The load module is the output file, that the compiler creates, which contains 0s and 1s that can be executable, by your computer.

If you don’t have any syntax error, then your computer, can go ahead and execute your code.

COBOL is available for almost all computer platforms, it is also a robust language, which has many debugging and testing tools.

You can also easily modify and read COBOL because, it contains logical control structures.

Due to the divisions mentioned above, which COBOL contains, you can also easily, debug COBOL.

Before you are able to write your code in COBOL, make sure that your working environment, has been set up right, depending on the operating system that you have.

If you don't want to set up, an environment on your computer, you can also try your code online.

You may or may not find obstacles when you program with COBOL, but whatever the obstacles, you may face, you should always remember one thing, you don't need to quit, just let the hard times, you experience in your programming journey, shape and make you a better programmer.

If you quit, before your journey is over, then you'll never find out, whether or not you could've become that master programmer, you are trying to be.

Thank you for reading this article post!!!

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