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COBOL Touches Our Everyday Lives


Guest: Sudharsana Srinivasan | Mike Bauer
Project: COBOL Programming Course/Open Mainframe Project (Twitter)
Show: Let’s Talk

There are over 220 billion lines of COBOL in use today and 1.5 billion are written each year. But COBOL doesn’t enjoy the same visibility and popularity as other languages like Python, Java and so on. The reason for this “is the misconception that it is a dead language,” says Sudharsana Srinivasan, Chair of the COBOL Programming Course. The root of that misconception is due to a lack of awareness of the fact that COBOL is actively used and really impacts our everyday lives. The Open Mainframe Project (OMP) community is aware of the challenge and is working on addressing it.

There are many projects under the umbrella of Open Mainframe Project to help improve the visibility of COBOL. One such initiative is the OMP’s COBOL Programming Course which brings valuable resources to the new breed of developers.

It can be seen as a gateway to bring education to the community of learners. “Either beginners who want to get started and learn about COBOL, or even first, those who want to have a quick refresher, this is a great opportunity to come and learn about COBOL,” says Srinivasan. The course also offers hands-on labs and exercises that put users on a real mainframe.

The COBOL Programming Course gets all the help it needs from sister projects like the COBOL Working Group. “The COBOL Working Group aims to promote the language by making materials more accessible to learners,” explains Mike Bauer, Chair of the COBOL Programming Course, “It only leverages free and publicly available tooling for accessing the mainframe environment, and in fact, provides a mainframe environment for learners to complete the hands-on exercises.”

Interestingly, the COBOL Programming Course actually went viral at the beginning of the pandemic when COBOL was in the news. “Our repository received over 100,000 views, and 8,500 plus learners have completed the hands-on exercises using the mainframe environment that we’ve provided,” quips Bauer.

Moreover, Bauer expects to continue to see a steady flow of learners coming onto the platform and onboarding onto the language. He adds, “…COBOL will continue to be critical to the world’s economy. And most of the world’s largest banks, insurance companies, retailers all rely on mainframes, and it’ll continue to be a critical skill that’s needed in today’s technical ecosystem.”

Learn more about the project in the interview above.

The summary of the show is written by Monika Chauhan.

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