COBOL is one of the oldest programming languages still widely used to power critical applications across multiple industries. A February 2022 survey found that there are 775 to 850 billion lines of COBOL code in active daily use.
But while COBOL is still relied upon by many organizations, the number of COBOL developers continues to dwindle. After all, COBOL was first released in 1959 – after six decades, it is hardly the most attractive language for new developers to learn. Perhaps even more worrisome is that when the existing pool of COBOL developers retires and moves on, the actual knowledge of how COBOL applications have been built and structured could be lost.
A new AI-powered tool in development from startup Phase Change Software, called COBOL Colleague, could potentially be a solution to the challenge. Steve Brothers, president at Phase Change Software, commented that COBOL isn’t going away anytime soon. And while it is hard to find COBOL developers, that’s not the real problem, he told VentureBeat.
“The real underlying problem is the knowledge of what the applications do, because to change code effectively, you need to understand what the code does,” he said.