Fate of COBOL

Today some of the cutting edge computer programming languages are Django, Drupal, and maybe Ruby. However just 5 years ago a study found that there were over 180 billion lines of COBOL code still in use. This can become a huge problem as the number of COBOL programmers is decreasing about 5% every year. Currently there are under 100,00 COBOL programmers out there. You can do the math and see that there will not be enough of them to maintain the current code base in a few years.

There are still some new core applications being written in the COBOL programming language. The problem is that it is usually more fun to be a Java developer. And it can pay better as well. So your top developers are probably not going to be COBOL developers any more. COBOL coding is not exactly rocket science. The COBOL language is meant to be easy to read.

I heard a funny joke the other day. Some developer got seriously sick. So they froze his body. When they thawed him out, there was a lot of commotion. Apparently they needed this guy back alive and kicking pronto. It was nearing the year 3000. And they were encountering all kinds of Y3K bugs. It seems the Y2K coders only did a patch job 1000 years in the past. LOL.

A number of sources have informally estimated that only 20% of development work is coding new apps. The remaining 80% of the work is maintenance programming. In addition to COBOL, there are other legacy languages out there like FORTAN, RPG, dBase, and Mumps. These languages probably have the same problem as COBOL. However there may not be as huge of an installed code base as there is with COBOL programs.

Perhaps I should join my buddy and become a COBOL consultant. Like I said before he makes a good deal of money. There is one problem with that plan. He has to travel all over the United States to get his gigs. And they hardly ever last long. They like when he comes in and solves their problems. He takes care of the issues nobody else likes or knows how to resolve. That kind of sounds like my job. I work in C++. If you ask some people, C++ is also losing its juice and will somebody be the next COBOL. I say bring it on.