[erlang-questions] languages in use? [was: Time for OTP to be Renamed?]

Richard A. O'Keefe <>
Mon Feb 17 03:41:38 CET 2014

On 16/02/2014, at 2:14 AM, Miles Fidelman wrote:
> How about this for a larger sample:
> http://eandt.theiet.org/news/2013/mar/cobol-skills.cfm (lede: "Dearth of COBOL programmers threatens business")

As someone who has used COBOL, who indeed has OpenCOBOL
on his machine (and some CICS books I've never had a
chance to put into practice), I have to say that

	'Coughlan ... also believes a certain amount of
	"intellectual snobbery", due to the language
	not being mathematically based and created by
	... Grace Hopper rather than academics, is at

is *way* off the mark.  COBOL is no more and no
less "mathematically based" than most imperative
programming languages.  And it's news to me that C,
C++, Objective C, Visual Basic.NET (we used to teach
that, only stopped recently; I used to do it but
after our then HoD took over, it was decided to stop),
SQL, or PHP was "created by academics".

Our own beloved Erlang was created _by_ an industrial
company _for_ their industrial purposes, and it wasn't
the first time they'd devised their own language either.

The problem with COBOL is that it is just amazingly
verbose, not to mention error-prone.

Unfortunately, COBOL-to-X translators, except for the
very very best, tend to produce programs in language
X that are even more verbose, and far less understandable.
(I haven't used one, but I've seen materials suggesting
that there are some seriously good COBOL-to-X translators
out there, but expect to spend serious money...)

As for "students only really learn one language,
normally Java or some Java derivative", we teach
Python, Java, and C, and 3rd-year students are
at least exposed to C++ or Objective C. Coughlan
may be correct that students only *learn* one
language, but they are *taught* more.

The rather whiny tone of the article is one I've heard
before (I wonder where).  If businesses are worried
about there not being enough COBOL programmers, the
answer is for *them* to club together and *run some
courses*.  If anyone wants to do that in Dunedin, I
would be happy to contribute some teaching time, if
adequately recompensed.  Oh, and since students already
have scary student loans, these courses should be
*free*.  User pays: in this case it's the companies
that are the users, not the students.

> Or Indeed.Com's salary survey:
> http://www.indeed.com/salary/Cobol-Developer.html

which shows "Java J2EE Unix Developer" as offering
higher average salary than most of the COBOL categories.

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