• COBOL?

    From unixl0rd@VERT/BEERS20 to All on Tue May 2 19:09:00 2023
    I just found out that IBM offers a free introductory COBOL course:

    https://www.ibm.com/blogs/ibm-training/free-course-announcing-learning-cobol-p rogramming-with-vscode/

    Is there actual demand for new COBOL developers? I thought companies were on the lookout for experienced developers who are either retired or about to retire.

    Thoughts?

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  • From Dr. What@VERT/THEGATEB to unixl0rd on Wed May 3 07:40:00 2023
    unixl0rd wrote to All <=-

    Is there actual demand for new COBOL developers? I thought companies
    were on the lookout for experienced developers who are either retired
    or about to retire.

    The demand isn't what it used to be. But there are great deal of critical systems that use COBOL out there. Most companies, though, are actively trying to get off those systems for cost reasons (one of which is having to pay a COBOL developer a high salary).

    IHMO: The demand is good - now. But the market is actively trying to reduce that demand. So in the long term, a COBOL career is not a good way to go.


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  • From Tracker1@VERT/TRN to unixl0rd on Wed May 3 16:11:06 2023
    Re: COBOL?
    By: unixl0rd to All on Tue May 02 2023 19:09:00

    I just found out that IBM offers a free introductory COBOL course:

    Is there actual demand for new COBOL developers? I thought companies were on the lookout for experienced developers who are either retired or about to retire.

    There's still a lot of old mainframe code out there, especially in banking. The efforts have moved towards getting new devs to learn this stuff. That said, I think it's a dead end and I think a lot of getting new devs is more about undercutting the guys at retirement who are asking 3-4x what a new dev would expect to make.

    Of course the older devs also have decades of experience and understanding which cannot be understated and shouldn't be undervalued.


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  • From poindexter FORTRAN@VERT/REALITY to unixl0rd on Wed May 3 11:56:23 2023
    Re: COBOL?
    By: unixl0rd to All on Tue May 02 2023 07:09 pm

    Is there actual demand for new COBOL developers? I thought companies were on the lookout for experienced developers who are either retired or about to retire.

    There's millions of pages of code that need to be maintained out there, and those retirees aren't getting any younger. :)
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  • From Dumas Walker@VERT/CAPCITY2 to UNIXL0RD on Wed May 3 15:38:00 2023
    Is there actual demand for new COBOL developers? I thought companies were on

    lookout for experienced developers who are either retired or about to
    etire.

    COBOL - You're Thinking About It Wrong

    "...[W]hile headlines might indicate the language had fallen into disfavor,
    the amount of COBOL in use continues to grow, with 800 billion lines running
    in production systems daily, according to a global survey conducted last year by enterprise software firm Micro Focus. COBOL is considered strategic by 92% of survey respondents, and over half said they expect their organizations to keep running their COBOL applications for at least another 10 years.

    "COBOL suffers from a 'major image problem' that stems from fundamental misperceptions. When a group of academic and industry researchers asked members of the COBOL Working Group of the Open Mainframe Project to rank the top five COBOL misperceptions, the top opinions were that the language is outdated, hard to learn and a bad career choice.

    "None of that is true, the researchers wrote in the December 2022 paper... Unlike modern programming languages that require specific syntax, COBOL is relatively simple to learn. It was developed 'o be easy to read, understand, and program for programmers in the 1960s who had few explicit training opportunities,' the paper said."

    The article goes on to speculate that the COBOL's perception problem stems from "IT leaders" who were familiar with COBOL no longer being the ones making decisions. It also mentions how the lack of COBOL training and programmers lead to the issues that government unemployment systems had during the increased system demand caused by the pandemic.

    More here: https://gcn.com/cloud-infrastructure/2023/01/cobol-youre-thinking-about-it-wron g/381563/

    https://tinyurl.com/3maz6md7


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  • From Dr. What@VERT/THEGATEB to unixl0rd on Thu May 4 07:16:00 2023
    unixl0rd wrote to MRO <=-

    My guess is that the codebase is so large and complicated that
    re-hiring retired devs would be more efficient than hiring new devs who don't know their way around the code. On the other hand, new
    applications may not require the same amount of experience, and this is where new devs would step in.

    The problem for these companies is:
    1. COBOL isn't perceived as a good career path since it's being phased out.
    2. While legacy code doesn't get alot of work done on it, it tends to be **bad** code because of the number of different programmers having worked on it over the (sometimes, many, many) years.

    So new devs don't have the COBOL skills and have to be trained on something that has a corporate-stated end of life - which is a bad investment. And even if the new devs have COBOL skills, they wouldn't have the experience to quickly and effectively change the legacy code.


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  • From Dr. What@VERT/THEGATEB to Dumas Walker on Thu May 4 07:23:00 2023
    Dumas Walker wrote to UNIXL0RD <=-

    "COBOL suffers from a 'major image problem' that stems from fundamental misperceptions.

    Somehow, I doubt it. If that's the problem with COBOL, it's also the problem with FORTRAN.

    When a group of academic and industry researchers asked

    Ahhh... Now I see where the reality distortion field comes in. 8)

    The article goes on to speculate that the COBOL's perception problem
    stems from "IT leaders" who were familiar with COBOL no longer being
    the ones making decisions.

    No. I think it has to do with companies figuring out that big IBM mainframes may not be the best solution for their needs and that COBOL has some pretty severe limitations.

    Speaking of the 2 very large corporations that I have experience with (one was a large warehouse system, the other a large retailer), both had multi-year plans to phase out COBOL. By the time I left those companies, they were well on their way down that plan, and both had done big changes to their COBOL developer corps (some layoffs, some retraining).

    However, like weight loss, where that last 10% to your goal is hard, getting rid of that last 10% of the COBOL code might take a while.


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  • From Dumas Walker@VERT/CAPCITY2 to DR. WHAT on Thu May 4 15:32:00 2023
    IHMO: The demand is good - now. But the market is actively trying to reduce that demand. So in the long term, a COBOL career is not a good way to go.

    While I tend to agree with you, that is what they were saying after Y2K
    came and passed. That was 23 years ago. :)


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  • From Dr. What@VERT/THEGATEB to Dumas Walker on Fri May 5 07:20:00 2023
    Dumas Walker wrote to DR. WHAT <=-

    IHMO: The demand is good - now. But the market is actively trying to reduce that demand. So in the long term, a COBOL career is not a good way to go.

    While I tend to agree with you, that is what they were saying after Y2K came and passed. That was 23 years ago. :)

    But they were right. The number of COBOL jobs dropped significantly after Y2K.
    And most of the ones left are maintenance jobs.

    I never said that COBOL was gone. But as a long term career, COBOL is a poor choice. Now, COBOL plus <something else> may be a good thing in most companies today. But a COBOL-only programmer isn't going to have a good job for 20 years.


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  • From Digital Man@VERT to Dr. What on Fri May 5 16:57:30 2023
    Re: Re: COBOL?
    By: Dr. What to Dumas Walker on Fri May 05 2023 07:20 am

    But a COBOL-only programmer isn't going to have a good job for 20 years.

    ... said someone 20 years ago. :-)
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  • From poindexter FORTRAN@VERT/REALITY to Dr. What on Sun May 7 07:12:00 2023
    Dr. What wrote to MRO <=-

    *sigh* Yes. I keep forgetting about the technical backwater which is
    the gov't.

    California EDD was backlogged during COVID and blamed their COBOL code.
    I bet they were waiting on budget for another dozen AS/400s.



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  • From poindexter FORTRAN@VERT/REALITY to Dumas Walker on Sun May 7 07:30:00 2023
    Dumas Walker wrote to MRO <=-

    if they worked for my state govt they would.

    They would here, too, *except* they could get paid a lot more
    elsewhere, even as a contract employee.

    Yeah, but after working for a local government for a time, the key isn't
    the salary - it's the PENSION. Keep your head down, don't make waves,
    last 5 years and you could start collecting a pension when you retire.

    The floor was something like 5% after 5 years, scaling upwards every
    year. 5 percent of your salary FOR LIFE. Once you get in the habit of
    doing just enough to not get fired and don't come onto anyone's radar,
    the years just keep piling up.



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  • From Dr. What@VERT/THEGATEB to poindexter FORTRAN on Mon May 8 07:45:00 2023
    poindexter FORTRAN wrote to MRO <=-

    Yeah, I don't think the idea was to put all of your eggs in one basket, says the guy with FORTRAN in his handle. :)

    I have his brother, Microsoft FORTRAN, working on my NuXT system.
    It actually works pretty good for something that old.


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  • From Dumas Walker@VERT/CAPCITY2 to POINDEXTER FORTRAN on Mon May 8 15:48:00 2023
    They would here, too, *except* they could get paid a lot more
    elsewhere, even as a contract employee.

    Yeah, but after working for a local government for a time, the key isn't
    the salary - it's the PENSION. Keep your head down, don't make waves,
    last 5 years and you could start collecting a pension when you retire.

    The floor was something like 5% after 5 years, scaling upwards every
    year. 5 percent of your salary FOR LIFE. Once you get in the habit of
    doing just enough to not get fired and don't come onto anyone's radar,
    the years just keep piling up.

    That depends on the state you live in. States like Kentucky and Illinois,
    who were busy cutting benefits for new hires vs. funding their obligation to retirement, and then trying to get the fed government to allow them to
    declare the system bankrupt, are not good places to go like they might have been in the 1990's and before.

    Kentucky cut out the 5% annual COLA increment/increase 20 years ago. They didn't really cut it out, they just quit paying it about the same time they quit paying their retirement funding obligation. One year, someone
    realized they had a whole group of people who had not got raises in years
    had fallen UNDER the federal poverty level. So they got just enough of
    an increase (only that group, and not anywhere near the cost of living) to
    get them back above the poverty level. IIRC, it may have happened twice.

    Until a year ago, very few long term employees that had less than 20 years experience had ever got any kind of annual increment or cost of living pay increases during their entire state government career, beyond the initial
    5% they got for making it to the end of probation. The only pension most
    of them will get is what they put in their 401 or 457 account which, unless they were smart and moved a bunch of their money to the low-but-guaranteed
    fix rate option, is not looking real good lately.

    I doubt KY is the only state government where this has become true, but
    about the only people who they can recruit and keep now are people who
    cannot hold down a job anywhere else, people who are married to someone
    that has a good paying job with good benefits, or people who are holding
    down 2 (or more) jobs. The rest stay long enough to get experience and then leave for someplace with better pay, benefits, and maybe even full-time remote work.

    The only IT staff they hire now are contract employees.


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  • From Dumas Walker@VERT/CAPCITY2 to POINDEXTER FORTRAN on Mon May 8 15:49:00 2023
    *sigh* Yes. I keep forgetting about the technical backwater which is the gov't.

    California EDD was backlogged during COVID and blamed their COBOL code.
    I bet they were waiting on budget for another dozen AS/400s.

    Kentucky was blaming "the computer program" for the UI issues during the
    same period, but the real problem was that they had stopped staffing the
    area in charge of updating the code. They only had 2 programmers on
    staff to try to make all of the changes required to override the rules of "normal, non-pandemic processing."


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  • From Feoh@VERT/DECAFBAD to unixl0rd on Wed May 17 02:29:03 2023
    Re: COBOL?
    By: unixl0rd to All on Tue May 02 2023 07:09 pm

    Asking whether a given niche language is a good one to learn for job purposes is rough.

    I follow a gent on Twitter who is one of the more well known experts on IBM mainframes and Cobol and the like, as well as integrating them with modern systems.

    He recently lost his job with IBM, and was casting around looking for new employment, and it was rough.

    Does that mean you shouldn't learn COBOL or IBM mainframe technology? Not at all! It could be an interesting experience and improve the depth and breadth of your understanding of technology as a whole.

    But are your chances good for being able to walk into a COBOL job because you tool this course? Maybe, but I certainly wouldn't bet the farm on it :)

    To my mind, contributing to open source and building a resume of code people can review and appreciate matters a lot more, as well as job experience.

    The thing employers want to know is: Can you do what they need?

    Good luck, have fun, and keep learning no matter what you do!

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  • From poindexter FORTRAN@VERT/REALITY to Feoh on Thu May 18 07:13:00 2023
    Feoh wrote to unixl0rd <=-

    He recently lost his job with IBM, and was casting around looking for
    new employment, and it was rough.

    Does that mean you shouldn't learn COBOL or IBM mainframe technology?
    Not at all! It could be an interesting experience and improve the depth and breadth of your understanding of technology as a whole.

    I was thinking of people learning the basics of COBOL or RPG as an
    additional skill. I thought that might come in handy, and for the jobs
    looking for those skills, finding someone not near retirement age might
    set you apart from any competition for the role.

    (As I look at my own career, and realize I'm one of those guys nearing retirement age... except with no mainframe experience.)


    To my mind, contributing to open source and building a resume of code people can review and appreciate matters a lot more, as well as job experience.


    Modern languages are a little more conducive to home projects, in my
    opinion. A Github page with utilities written in BASH, a Python script,
    or PHP that you use personally seems likely.

    A COBOL program that collates inventory orders and updates onhand
    quantities? Not something you'd code in your spare time (or at home!)




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  • From CDP@VERT/DMINE to unixl0rd on Thu Jun 1 20:10:53 2023
    Re: COBOL?
    By: unixl0rd to All on Tue May 02 2023 07:09 pm

    I just found out that IBM offers a free introductory COBOL course:

    https://www.ibm.com/blogs/ibm-training/free-course-announcing-learning-cobol rogramming-with-vscode/

    Is there actual demand for new COBOL developers? I thought companies were on

    Thoughts?

    ... It is always darkest just before you turn on the lights.

    If COBOL is something you're interested in it's definitely still worth having it on your resume. I probably wouldn't put it at the TOP of the resume (depending on the job your applying for), but there is still some good demand for COBOL programmers out there.
    Speaking from experience, where I work (as is the case everywhere) the cobol programmers are aging out and retiring. The new ones we hire are still in the same general age range and I'm sure they are demanding a lot of money since the pool is getting smaller and the codebase is still significant.

    It's proven to be a very resilient language despite it's faults, and more reliable than many of the newer ones to come along over the last 20+ years (IMO).
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  • From unixl0rd@VERT/BEERS20 to CDP on Thu Jun 1 19:45:00 2023
    Speaking from experience, where I work (as is the case everywhere) the cobol programmers are aging out and retiring. The new ones we hire are still in the same general age range and I'm sure they are demanding a
    lot of money since the pool is getting smaller and the codebase is still significant.

    I've got about fifteen years of experience as a web developer and to be honest I am kinda bored. Learning COBOL might give me the stimulation I need right now even if it doesn't land me a job.

    ... I BM. You BM. We all BM for IBM!
  • From Dr. What@VERT/THEGATEB to unixl0rd on Fri Jun 2 07:21:00 2023
    unixl0rd wrote to CDP <=-

    I've got about fifteen years of experience as a web developer and to be honest I am kinda bored. Learning COBOL might give me the stimulation I need right now even if it doesn't land me a job.

    In general, learning other languages, especially on different platforms, teaches you a great deal and make you think a little differently in the programming languages that you use.

    Back when I was in college, they taught Pascal as the starting language. Not because it was a great language that you would use in the Real World, but because you would often take the ideas that you learned in Pascal and apply them to other languages like FORTRAN or COBOL (ex: minimize GOTO statements).

    For me, learning about Python's async code helped me a great deal in understanding the same ideas in C# that I use for work.

    It also helps to get a difference perspective from other systems with other constraints. At work, we had a problem where a newby programmer basically sent 16GB through a system that assumed that data would be 16MB and basically gummed everything up. The root problem was that this newby programmer had never encountered a system that didn't have more than enough resources to do whatever he want. For those of us who grew up with computers with 16K, we always think about asking if we have enough resources.


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  • From Nightfox@VERT/DIGDIST to unixl0rd on Fri Jun 2 08:44:21 2023
    Re: Re: COBOL?
    By: unixl0rd to CDP on Thu Jun 01 2023 07:45 pm

    I've got about fifteen years of experience as a web developer and to be honest I am kinda bored. Learning COBOL might give me the stimulation I need right now even if it doesn't land me a job.

    There's a lot of demand for other programming languages too. Lately, several of the projects I've worked on have used C# (Windows desktop software), and there's a lot of demand for mobile development too (Kotlin or Java on Android, and Swift or Objective-C on iOS). C++ and C are used for some projects, and so on.. Depends on what you'd be working on.

    Nightfox

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  • From CDP@VERT/DMINE to unixl0rd on Fri Jun 2 19:29:29 2023
    Re: Re: COBOL?
    By: unixl0rd to CDP on Thu Jun 01 2023 07:45 pm

    I've got about fifteen years of experience as a web developer and to be hone

    ... I BM. You BM. We all BM for IBM!

    Coincidentally I have a book sitting on my desk in front of me that I had tucked away for years and never used. Sams Teach Yourself Cobol in 21 Days. I've actually been going through that in my spare time just to do something with the book before I pass it on. I work mostly as an admin in infrastructure so the bulk of my 'coding' is really scripting and ansible playbooks.

    We have young developers who might be able to use it though. It's fun watching Java devs wrapping their heads around Cobol, but they seem to do ok. It's unique compared to some of todays languages but not terrible to learn at all. -----------------------
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