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COBOL – A 60-Year-Old Language Still in Demand?

Definition of COBOL Programming Language

It is a programming language that predominantly concentrates on sorting out business problems. COBOL simply stands for Common Business Oriented Language. It is developed by the Conference on Data System Language (CODASYL). For most of the part, government businesses and organizations use this language to handle their data. Besides, companies also use it as a solution to data processing problems. The language is not used to develop system programs. We cannot develop an operating system with this language.

Why is the language still dominant?

The obsolete language lacks a lot of present-day features like Dynamic Memory Allocations. Besides, it does not allow us to ingress the low-level features of an operating system. However, the domain-specific nature makes it better suited for business programming. A business-based program demands proper management and manipulation of heterogeneous data. Also, we should manage financial data using true decimal data. The use of customary floating-point data types can bring several difficulties and errors. In addition, a finance-centered program should be able to manipulate a large volume of data.

Now, we cannot overcome all these restrictions with a general-purpose programming language. Thus, COBOL comes into play here. It can handle enormous data processing. We can also use it as a self-documenting programming language.

Characteristics of COBOL

  • The modish file organizing capability enables us to handle a significant amount of data.
  • The logical structure of this language is facile to understand, read, and alter.
  • Similarly, the process of debugging is quite uncomplicated in COBOL.
  • As the language is mainly built for business purposes, it can handle a large amount of data.
  • Likewise, you can access all the debugging and testing tools on all platforms of your PC.
  • One of the most tempting features is that we can execute COBOL on machines like IBM, desktop computers, etc.

COBOL is Straightforward

COBOL is an uncomplicated programming language. It does not include pointers, user-defined functions, and user-defined types. It emphasizes more on the plain programming style. Moreover, the language has proven it’s worth despite its scantiness. Most of the program difficulties in this language depend on the business rules rather than structures and algorithms. This is the direct consequence of the operation of language in the domain. On top of this, the newer version, the OO-COBOL is even better. It retains all the beneficial features of the prior version with few additional enticing attributes. Some of these new features are:

  • User-defined Functions
  • User-defined Data Types
  • Unicode
  • Diverse Currency Symbols
  • Locales
  • Pointers
  • Floating Point Data types
  • Object Orientation

What are the disadvantages of this language?

The obsolete identity undoubtedly clarifies that the language has certain drawbacks. One of the biggest drawbacks is the complicated Syntax of COBOL. Since it is a low-level language, COBOL programmers must have a good knowledge of machine language. Likewise, it takes a lot of time for compilation and execution. It has a very inflexible format. Thus, we need to write several lines of code to bring logic to the program. Other than that, it is very difficult to find a COBOL programmer at this moment in time. This is due to the old age of the COBOL programming language.

Author avatar
Sushant Singh Basnet

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