Cobol Programming on mac

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by faragher6, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. faragher6 macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2009
    I am currently in a class in college learning COBOL programming language. I've been using windows on my mac to run .net express however, my other programming class allows me to use eclipse for mac to do java. i was wondering if there are any programs to help me code COBOL on mac so i dont have to go to my windows partition. any help is appreciated!
  2. lee1210 macrumors 68040


    Jan 10, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    First hit on google for "OS X Cobol compiler":

    I have no experience with this, but it seems like a good place to start.

  3. iShater macrumors 604


    Aug 13, 2002
    I hate to ask this question, but why on earth are they teaching you COBOL in school?

    or is it a programming languages course that shows you the different ones out there? (ADA, LISP, etc.)? :confused:
  4. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Maybe it's the science version of teaching Latin :)
  5. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    Since it's one of the earliest tools I'm sure it's required reading.
  6. redwarrior macrumors 603


    Apr 7, 2008
    in the Dawg house
    I'm starting at DeVry in March and many of the programming classes offer the choice of primarily COBOL or Java. Apparently, it's still used. I still have flashbacks of grid paper and hand cramps. :eek:
  7. iShater macrumors 604


    Aug 13, 2002
    If it is a course on its own, then I would be surprised.

    It is still used. DeVry and other similar schools actually keep it alive as there are large corporations that use it on the mainframe.

    I'm just curious, I mean it is not as common in India, so maybe it will mean better future here. :p
  8. faragher6 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2009
    There are alot of companies out there that still use Cobol for certain reasons. the reason my school thinks its so important is because most of these companies are having there coders retire and they need new people to hire and redo the code and update it

    good place to start yes but it doesn't seem like the solution im looking for. this looks like it converts cobol to C to compile. doesn't seem to work on mac. anyone else want to give it a try?
  9. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    I'm probably wrong but I think the Mac side has given up on Cobol and I'm afraid Windows will be the best way to do it.
  10. aross99 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2006
    East Lansing, MI
    Years and years ago, Micro Focus used to make a Cobol compiler for the Mac. This was WAY before OS X - probably back in the System 7 days. The product has long since been discontinued.

    They have other Unix/Linux based products (Server Express, etc), but as far as I know, they don't run under OS X.

    Since you are using Net Express, I think your are going to need to run it under Windows on your Mac, or use your Mac to "remote desktop" into a Windows machine that has the compiler and runtime.
  11. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    This is a most interesting thread.

    COBOL is still used in the government, DoD and large corporations. Plenty of opportunities out there -- especially as old coders retire.

    Back in the early 80s I worked for the Army's computer research command and developed code using COBOL.

    Fun times! :)

    Also learned Ada. Here is a pic of the manual cover:

    Ada Manual - 198007.jpg

    Note it says proposed standard document. That was back in July 1980.

    And both languages are still around and being used. :D

    As for the compiler/development environment, I will be very curious to see what the OP ends up using. It seems there are very limited options on the Mac side these days.
  12. silverf1re macrumors regular

    Mar 3, 2011
    Bump. I started a cobol class today at UIU and I am in need is a cobol solution for mac also. Im not expecting a miracle but maybe some fresh eyes on the matter :)
  13. CodeRaven macrumors member

    May 14, 2008
    COBOL is still used in the financial industry where mainframes are still heavily in use. I was a COBOL programmer for about 18 years, our mainframe runs IBM's z/OS, lots of CICS code. Also did some report writing in a language called EZ-Trieve.
  14. jiminaus macrumors 65816


    Dec 16, 2010
    What does it matter if OpenCOBOL compiles to C? It's just a compiler mechanism, the resulting behaviour will be the same.

    Quote from the front page of the OpenCOBOL website (emphasis added):
  15. glenisnelson macrumors newbie


    Sep 14, 2015
    Cobol is still used in a lot of large shops, especially in the government. They will need people to convert them from Cobol to a more modern language. Social Security, U.S. Treasury, etc still have large Mainframes that do a better job that a server based system. Cobol is not as complicated as server based languages. It is also easier to maintain. It does the job that server based languages can't handle. High volume transaction procession is still easier to process in Cobol.
  16. 960design, May 30, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017

    960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    True... but this conversion should have started 10 years ago.
    Yes, they are still using mainframes. Cobol based mainframe backends do NOT do a better job than any newer server based system. Prove it, okay; we have COBOL running 35million+ file backends and I can do over 1000 calls in the time COBOL returns a single call. Is it 1000 times faster, no, MORE than 1000 times faster. As I can duplicate this out to multiple clients using new technology, whereas COBOL locks the backend and halts everything to put that single response together. Asynchronous calls are so much faster it is difficult to calculate exactly how much so.
    I would argue they are far simpler and easier to maintain. Have you looked at some of the crap written in the 50s?
    Again, COBOL has no monopoly. Newer tech and languages builds on all the weaknesses of COBOL. Amazon and Netflix would use COBOL if it was still relevant. I do not know of any new projects based on COBOL and I'm surrounded by COBOL programmers. There are eight within throwing distance, working insanely hard to maintain a 60 year old system.
  17. mpainesyd macrumors 6502a


    Nov 29, 2008
    Sydney, Australia
    It seems possible that many "legacy" computer systems will have date-related problems in 2024 - or maybe they will last until 2038:
    So big companies using old operating systems really need to be hiring people who can convert to modern OS.
    BTW I use DosBox for running ancient DOS programs within Sierra:
    I actually needed a patch to make it through 2000!
  18. carestudio macrumors 6502

    Aug 6, 2008
    I believe the computer language is just a language, as long as you have talent you can pick it up quickly, doesnt matter it's COBOL or JAVA or COCOA. It's just a language. The more difficult part is the Algorithm and how to write a system that is more efficiency. Just like what you thinking is more important than language skill. Learning computer language might be a good indication for you and your instructor to get familiar your own logic and improve it; you can do that with any kind of languages.
  19. Senor Cuete macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2011
  20. jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009

    Exactly, again.

    There is a demand, for sure. It is a limited demand, though. And any good developer could pick it up. EASILY, in fact, as it is not a difficult language.

    But, really, not a good thing to base an education on.

    Honestly, if they offer you a choice between Cobol and Java - find another school! And that is a serious answer.

    There is, however, one throwback computer science education practice that I highly endorse. I was lucky enough to have a computer and computer course in my high school when I graduated in 1972. They started us out with MACHINE LANGUAGE (IBM 1620 - not even assembly! We punched numerical instructions on cards) before they let is learn Fortran. When I went to college, again, our first language was Mix (Don Knuth's assembly language for a non-existent hardware), and then we learned PL/1.

    Approaching from machine language/assembly first gives a great understanding of the underlying hardware that is lacking in a lot of students today.

    In college, I had a small exposure to Cobol, as part of a "survey of computer languages" course. It covered Cobol, Algol, Lisp, Snobol, and APL. Of those, Cobol is the only one that I never subsequently used. The purpose of the course was to expose us to the breadth of computer programming languages.

    As to the original question, see here:

    Keep in mind that much/most software written for Linux can be easily adapted for MacOS, and so focus on Linux solutions and you likely will find it's available for MacOS as well.
  21. jaduff46 macrumors 6502


    Mar 3, 2010
    Second star on the right....
    Agree with @jtara above on a number of points. You weren't at Duke were you, as that's where I learned both MIX (Knuth) and PL/I.

    IMHO the market for COBOL developers has diminished over time and my sense is that most are doing maintenance work on legacy systems.

    The thing that drew me to computer science was the desire to create systems and tools, to figure out how to do something faster, better, more expansively. So while at Duke i was involved in a chess program with a couple of other guys (initially in PL/I then reworked in Assembler for speed), which led me to a job in NYC where GM was a client and used PL/I to do financial modeling, which eventually led me to a career on Wall Street with a mix of technology and finance. I picked up languages as I needed them for the job at hand (C, Unix, FORTRAN, Python, AWK).

    My point is that if you see yourself as a creative person, COBOL alone will probably limit you. Having said that, as you're already in the course, following through with the course will make it easier to pick up the next language/framework and the next one after that. This breadth of knowledge, coupled with tackling large unwieldy problems (chess in my case) will make you appealing in your job search. Seemed to work that way for me out of college.

    Given a choice, go for Java, a much less verbose language!.

  22. jtara, Jun 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017

    jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009
    No, Wayne State in Detroit.

    There weren't a lot of hardware choices at the time. Anyone teaching computer science either used (a) IBM 360 (b) Control Data something-or-another (c) PDP-8. IBM was popular because it was what was typically used as the administrative mainframe in big schools. I think we had 3 - one admin system on a 360/65 running OS/360, and a pair of 360/67 running MTS (Michigan Terminal System) for an academic system, that's what students were on. The /67 had a "DAT box" - "Dynamic Address Translation" - it was one of the first machines (if not the first) to have logical addressing. MTS was an alternative to OS/TSS that was written by U. Michigan when they got tired of waiting for IBM to finish TSS. Later, we got one of the first Amdahls.

    Anyway, if your school had an IBM mainframe for an academic system, then you were learning PL/1! It was IBM's "modern" higher-level language. If you had Control Data, I think it probably was Algol. PDP, who knows, maybe Lisp? (Engineering school did have some random PDPs and Data Generals, but Computer Science used the 360 only.) Definitely no C, as it was only written in 1972 and the C Programming Language book wasn't written until 1978, and this was 73-76.

    The PL/1 actually came in handy later, since Motorola wrote a very similar language called PL/M that used for developing code for 6800 chips.

    Knuth Volume 1 was the text for our intro algorithms course.

    My first programming job was as a student assistant working at the computing center. I shared a cool office on the mezzanine of the machine room with a window looking out on the hardware. Banks and banks of huge "washing machine" disk drives! I wrote in 360 assembly code. I ported IEFSD095 to MTS. Look it up, it's a fun one! ;) Edit: oh. Some things still CAN'T be found on the Internet! It was the block-lettering routine in OS/360 used to print banner pages on line printers.

    Anyway, there were programmers downstairs on the admin side writing Cobol code for paying professors and sending out grades. Imagine my shock and horror that the language is still being used today!
  23. kiwipeso1 Suspended


    Sep 17, 2001
    Wellington, New Zealand
    This conversation was started 20 years ago when I was involved in the design of a image DRM system that wound up becoming an ecommerce platform for a few years.
    Back then it was plain Java on a neural net searching each client transaction with better throughput on a 1998 powermac g3 group than a mainframe solution from IBM, and it had security which exceeded the export regulations of the time.
    When I was asked by a headhunter if I would translate a COBOL bank project for online banking into my server project, their offer was far too low to be worth my time, so I went to university so I could charge a decent rate in future.
  24. carestudio macrumors 6502

    Aug 6, 2008
    Ooops, yeah, you are right. I was always confused. Xcode could support C, C++ and swift languages I believe and Cocoa is just a framework, my mistake. Thanks.
  25. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2007
    Midwest America.
    Talk about Zombie Threads...

    But my first job as a programmer was using Dyl-280 for ad-hoc reporting and production jobs on an IBM mainframe. Then I was able to switch to SAS, and found their language so much more powerful. But that was back when I had hair...

Share This Page