Is COBOL the 18-Wheeler of the Web?
Coffee: Legacy code may be stuck at the truck stop if tomorrow's coders choose other rides.If youre looking for a hot combination of highly employable skills, consider writing code to provide Web services--in COBOL. Can a person build a 21st-century IT career on this 1960s foundation? Well, foundations are better than shifting sands. Legacy Reserves, a databank for over-35 IT pros, cites Gartner estimates that retirement and death will shrink the population of working COBOL coders by 13 percent between 2002 and 2006, even while 15 percent of all new applications are being written in the language--and quotes the GIGA Group as predicting that "The most highly paid programmers in the next ten years are going to be COBOL programmers who know the Internet." It doesnt matter whether you enter the world of Web services through the door marked ".Net" or the one labeled "Java" (and after all, the whole point is to avoid being locked into either one). Fujitsus NetCOBOL for .Net produces Common Language Runtime code that integrates with Microsoft languages like C# and Visual Basic .Net; Micro Focus plans to do the same by summer. Fujitsu has also commissioned a multimedia training course, with textbook, for developers who want to learn more.
Meanwhile, at GigaWorld IT Forum last week in Phoenix, Micro Focus rolled out its Enterprise Server platform for COBOL/J2EE integration. LegacyJ Corp.s PERCobol takes another road, compiling 15 dialects of COBOL source code to Java Virtual Machine executables. And earlier this month, Acucorp announced forthcoming release of its extend6 lineup of COBOL-based integration tools for XML--along with file system extensions for handling large objects, such as images and other multimedia, in record sizes as large as 64 megabytes.