• Subject: Re: An odd thing
  • From: Bob Larkin <blarkin@xxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 00:33:07 -0800

Chris Rehm wrote:

> But they decided to use IBM's Visual Generator to redevelop all their AS/400
> based software to a client/server model using COBOL. I was very surprised by
> this choice. At first, I thought the guy telling me about it was joking.


I am a bit of a COBOL bigot (Yeah I know, the first step is recognizing you have
a problem). Most of my clients use RPG and I am quite fluent in RPG III, IV, and
ILE. One key advantage of COBOL is the lengthy field names and the ability to
qualify data names to specific files. Used properly, this allows the programmer
to create a self documenting program with MEANINGFUL data names. With complex
applications, maintenance can be much easier.

Another benefit is there are a lot more platforms that run COBOL than RPG.
Granted, I am not aware of any platforms that have COBOL extensions that are as
powerful as the AS/400. (I won't write COBOL on anything but the AS/400). I 
imagine that converting non-subfile applications to other platforms would not be
a terribly tough task. Converting from RPG to another language might be.

There are probably billions if not trillions of lines of COBOL out there, and a
lot of programmers that can write it. An interesting unscientific observation, 
the AS/400 I have seen better code from Midrange RPG programmers that have
learned COBOL, than Mainframe COBOL programmers that attempt to write COBOL. The
key seems to be that mainframe techniques will work, but they ignore all of the
productivity enhancements IBM has made to COBOL.

Bob Larkin

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