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GnuCOBOL: A Rising Force in Open-Source COBOL

Good News for COBOL Programmers

For decades, COBOL has been the workhorse of the business world, powering critical systems in finance, human resources, and more. But with its origins in 1959, some might wonder if COBOL can keep pace with modern technology. The answer is a resounding yes, thanks to the open-source project GnuCOBOL.

GnuCOBOL Reaches Industrial Maturity

At FOSDEM 2024, GnuCOBOL contributor Fabrice Le Fessant announced a significant milestone: GnuCOBOL is now “industrially mature” and can compete with proprietary COBOL offerings. This means businesses can confidently use GnuCOBOL for their mission-critical systems.

Why COBOL Still Matters

Here’s the surprising fact: COBOL isn’t a relic of the past. Estimates suggest there are still 80 billion lines of COBOL code in use, and it continues to grow at a rate of 15% annually! The reasons?

  • Reliability and Speed: COBOL is known for its robustness and efficiency, making it ideal for core business applications.
  • Portability: COBOL was designed to be cross-platform, making it adaptable to various operating systems.
  • Massive Codebase Migration Cost: Many organizations have vast amounts of COBOL code that would be prohibitively expensive to migrate to a new language.

GnuCOBOL’s Advantages

GnuCOBOL offers several benefits over proprietary COBOL options:

  • Open Source and Free: No expensive licensing fees.
  • Performance Improvements: GnuCOBOL users report performance gains when migrating from commercial COBOL products.
  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: Runs on Linux, Windows, macOS, and even Raspberry Pi.
  • High Conformance: GnuCOBOL surpasses even proprietary vendors in COBOL 85 conformance testing.

Looking Ahead: GnuCOBOL and the Future

The future of GnuCOBOL is bright. Here’s what’s on the horizon:

  • SuperBOL Development Studio: A new development environment for GnuCOBOL, offering a familiar experience for programmers.
  • Google Summer of Code Participation: This will introduce a new generation of developers to GnuCOBOL’s capabilities.

The Takeaway:

GnuCOBOL is no longer just a legacy language option. It’s a mature, open-source solution that offers businesses a cost-effective and powerful platform for building and maintaining critical systems. Whether you’re a seasoned COBOL programmer or a newcomer to the language, GnuCOBOL is worth considering for your next project.

Reference to the Article- THE NEW STACK

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