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Welcome to Tuesday, 21 August 2018, 03:54 @ CEST

On Maturity

  • Friday, 12 July 2013, 19:57 @ CEST
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Learning to write Cobol Text is considered easy. One may feel dumb when forced to write the four divisions and some -- always present -- default sections. However, it is fast recognized that starting with a template, a sort-of empty program, would overcome this. At least we are very used to this technique when working with a text processor like a office suite.

So we learn. And that is why CoCoS distinguishes between newbee's, junior, medior, senior Cobol programmers and the professional use of Cobol. Because we all apply different tricks and expose different habits depending on our knowledge, our track record, our colleagues, etc. Not to forget the standards imposed by the employer or contractor.

CoCoS strongly advises newbee's to start in the traditional way:

  • stick to the old format (based on punched cards) with area A and B,
  • write your Text solely in UPPERCASE
  • and comment as much as possible (with the asterisk in column 7).
  • The reason behind this, is not that you need punishment, but merely that the Cobol world is a traditional one and sometimes you will need help. Posting your Cobol Text in forums or including it in emails, is easily recognized. Nothing more than that. You also will avoid nasty comments on details of coding and will get to the point answers. Promise.

    CoCoS suggests the following rules on formats:

  • use the old format with area A and B, or the free format,
  • stick to it for 100%; tools will be used that could render useless when you mix your formats.
  • Indent your Cobol Text as if it were text. Indent with spaces, not TAB's.
  • CoCoS supports junior's with :

  • Use UPPERCASE if you still are addicted to it.
  • Try your Cobol Text with only the reserved words in uppercase.
  • Remember that the complete syntax falls in that category.
  • The reason behind this is obvious. These large collection of reserved words will hunt you with compiler errors. Make these words easy recognizable is the adagio here.

    For medior's or senior's, developing their own style [ahem], there's just the rule on formats; see above.

    Resuming, two kind of formats are distinguished:

  • plain old 80-character wide Cobol format,
  • and free format, with comment markers in column 1.
  • Than, to make things clear, three case usages are distinguished:

  • uppercase only,
  • lowercase only,
  • mixed case: uppercase reserved words and lowercase the rest,
  • CoCoS suggest the professional Cobol programmer to adept a level or rule that results in beautiful text and stick 100% to it. No exceptions.

    CoCoS will supply a few utilities to convert from and to: from uppercase to lowercase and vice versa, from traditional format to modern format and vice versa. Your decision on what to use will depend on your esthetics. By sticking to it for 100%, ever, than maturity is on its way.

    The Capability Maturity Model is known to specify levels of growth of maturity of capabilities (we discuss here Cobol programming). Maturity starts [1] with experiments and learning, goes thru recognition of problem patterns into [2] a repeatable state, which will demand for standards to reach [3] a defined state. Measuring the results in quantity and quality units allows for [4] a managed state. The model (CMM) also specifies level [5] when you start to optimize within your programming discipline, now called a software development process. The model causes that from level [3] on the results of your efforts will be predictable.

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