12 Replies - 1468 Views - Last Post: 23 August 2008 - 05:25 PM

#1 LowWaterMark  Icon User is offline

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Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Post icon  Posted 21 August 2008 - 11:32 PM

I was thinking of taking some introductory Computer Science courses at my local community college. I discovered that the fundamental programming language they offer education in is COBOL. It's a 0.5 year long series and a prerequisite for any other language.

Is this training reasonable or should I be worried?
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Replies To: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

#2 MitkOK  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 22 August 2008 - 01:56 AM

Quote

The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offense.

- Edgar Dijkstra

Nothing more to say.
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#3 Programmist  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 22 August 2008 - 03:17 AM

Sounds like a scheme to employ out-of-work or (more likely) retired COBOL programmers. I would stay far away from any CS program that teaches COBOL as a mandatory course.
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#4 Amadeus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 22 August 2008 - 03:40 AM

Although there are still systems out there running COBOL, the last time COBOL programmers (for the most part, there are exceptions) were in high demand was leading up to the Y2K scare, where said systems needed to be adjusted. It was actually a great time to be a COBOL programmer (the per diems those guys were getting were unbelievable)...but is is now long past. While you could likely use the course to become acquainted with programming fundamentals, it's not likely you'd learn anything that could not be taught with a more 'in demand' language.
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#5 LowWaterMark  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 22 August 2008 - 03:52 AM

MitkOK, that sounds ominous. And Programmist, you put a rather elegant point on it. Point taken.

MitkOK, you reminded me of another Dijkstra quote re the one and only programming course I took twenty some-odd years ago in college:

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"FORTRAN, 'the infantile disorder', is hopelessly inadequate: it is too clumsy, too risky, and too expensive to use" - Prof. Edgar Dijkstra


Amadeus, thanks. It begs the question that Salieri is rumored to have asked again and again: "Why?".

. . . as I slowly orbit back toward self-education . . .
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#6 KyleG  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 22 August 2008 - 07:43 AM

I'm of the opinion that if you aren't excited about using a certain technology for a living, don't bother learning it. I can't imagine anyone in this generation of programmers wanting to be a COBOL programmer for a living.

Nothing good can come from learning COBOL.
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#7 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 22 August 2008 - 08:19 AM

I'd rather learn assembly as a mandatory first intro course instead of COBOL.
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#8 Mr. Ron  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 22 August 2008 - 10:51 AM

I have several good reasons for avoiding that school.

1. Very few schools even offer COBOL anymore, and when they do, it is not a prerequisite.
2. You are not likely to ever get a job using COBOL. When a COBOL job does open up, the employer usually requires extensive experience with it, which most COBOL programmers already have.
3. Most importantly, COBOL is a procedural language whereas most common languages are event-driven and/or object-oriented. When you first learn to program using COBOL, it's hard to adjust to learning modern languages because they work so differently. I've programmed in COBOL for 18 years, and it's been challenging to respecialize in vb.net and C#.

By the way, make sure the school you choose is properly accredited. And don't waste your time with a community college, where I've found that the teacher is often only a half-step ahead of the students.
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#9 bflosabre91  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 22 August 2008 - 12:39 PM

i wouldnt do it. i took COBOL at school. the whole time i took it wondering why the hell do they still teach that crap. i still ended up geting a great vb.net job but that was because i also took vb classes. the problem with COBOL is like what other people were saying. its not even good for learning programming in other language becuase it is procedural. and it really wasnt any fun.
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#10 NickDMax  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 22 August 2008 - 02:31 PM

Well I personally need to brush up on my COBOL skills for an upcoming project. But I would say that this is a bad sign. You could call the school and ask to talk to someone about the program and raise these concerns and see if they have a reason for using an archaic language that is at best relegated to the past as soon as possible.
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#11 OliveOyl3471  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 23 August 2008 - 07:07 AM

They don't teach COBOL at my community college. They teach C++, C#, HTML (with CSS, XML, and DHTML), Java, Javascript, VB.NET, and SQL. (& maybe a couple of others I don't know about or forgot about.) A lot of their computer courses are taught entirely online.

It seems strange to me that COBOL would be a prerequisite for the other programming courses. At my college, they don't even get into teaching the languages until you've had an introductory course to learn the basic concepts of programming logic.

You probably don't want to go that route, since you don't want to learn COBOL. One of my instructors even said that C++ isn't used to the extent that it has been in the past. People are starting to use C# instead, according to him.

I think that C++ is good to learn anyway, since I've seen a lot of job offers that require C++ knowledge, and it's not that different than C#.

You might be able to find another college that teaches C++.

On the other hand, just hanging around here might do the trick. ;)

This post has been edited by OliveOyl3471: 23 August 2008 - 07:14 AM

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#12 Trogdor  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 23 August 2008 - 07:07 AM

His first name was Edsger, not Edgar.

As for learning cobol, perhaps you could ask if they throw in a free lobotomy with the package.
If you allready have (even the tinyest) programmingskills it will be easy to learn, but, as mentioned above, completely useless.
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#13 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is COBOL an ominous sign?

Posted 23 August 2008 - 05:25 PM

COBOL was a mandatory part of my college education. It was outdated even then. In my lifetime, I have only witnessed one job opening for a COBOL programmer. And I've never met anyone else who could do it (in "real life", not the boards). I'd check a few other schools within a reasonable distance. No point in taking COBOL if you can bypass it.
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