COBOL, A Short Visit 06 Dec 2006
I wrote some COBOL today. I can’t say it was fun, enjoyable or even breath taking. It was more of a “oh my gosh, I’m so glad we have languages better COBOL these days!”.

I was working with a vendor who runs a data extract program from a COBOL program. We needed to utilize a non-printable whitespace character as a field delimiter. They didn’t know how to do that since COBOL treats all whitespace equally, as spaces. I was hoping COBOL would treat \t literals as actual tabs, but it doesn’t.

So I ended up with my sample program:

000200 PROGRAM-ID. hello.
000400 DISPLAY X'09'.
000500 DISPLAY "Hello World!".
000600 STOP RUN.

That X’09’ gave me my binary character for a tab! I can’t say I’d want to program in COBOL, but for a very short visit it was fun to read up on it, and write some sample programs. The above six-liner just happened to be the one I needed.

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