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Cobol For Dummies [Paperback]

Arthur Griffith
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Oct 1997 For Dummies
COBOL—the language of business data processing –– has been used for accounting systems, inventory control, database maintenance, payroll systems, and many other applications. With the help of COBOL For Dummies, you′ll read and understand existing COBOL programs as well as write programs of your own. This book contains everything you need to know to store and retrieve data in files, perform calculations necessary for business operations, and organize and format data for presentation on paper and on the computer screen.

Inside, find helpful advice on how to

  • Choose the right solutions for the year 2000 problem
  • Use simple, step–by–step processes for defining different types of file organizations and accesses
  • Create PICTURE clauses to store and format data in ways that make the most sense for your applications
  • Explore the data tables that you can build inside a COBOL program to model real–world events and situations
  • Set up sorting procedures capable of handling millions of records

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Product details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; Pap/Cdr edition (30 Oct 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764502980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764502989
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 18.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 824,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Author

A jump start into COBOL
I know why you are reading about this book. It’s a job thing, right? I thought so. You see, there are no COBOL hobbyists. I don’t really know why that is so--all the other languages have hobbyists. But not COBOL. COBOL programmers have their sleeves rolled up and are doing a days work.

This is a beginner’s COBOL book, and I have had some very nice responses from folks that are using it to learn COBOL for the first time. There is another group that is using it--those that haven’t worked in COBOL for some years and want a quick refresher course. I have gotten some nice comments from folks in both of these categories. I have been told that it has helped some people achieve their goals. (Insert picture of author dragging a big toe in the dust and saying, "Aw shucks".)

An important note about the history of COBOL. It is not true that an extra letter was once added so COBOL would no longer be a four letter word. The letter B has always been in the name.

386 Pages of COBOL. COBOL for Dummies is based on ANSI 85 standard COBOL. Although compilers vary a bit, this is the dialect of COBOL compatible with all current compilers. COBOL is like ice cream: it comes in lots of flavors. Some of it has nutty stuff in it, and some of it is real hard. And it doesn't seem to have a "best if used by" date. COBOL has been around for a lot of years and every maker of a COBOL compiler has, for reasons of their own, added something special here and there. Sometimes the customization is necessary, sometimes it's useful, sometimes it's cute, and sometimes it's just, like, well, there.

By the way, about the ANSI 85 COBOL standard. That's 1985 AD, not BC. COBOL has been around a long time, but not quite that long. However, there is an obscure note attributed to Pretonius the Arbitor that has been translated to, "Octavia, punch this up on some papyrus and have a runner take it to Cobilius Compilius." It has also been said that Moses first brought COBOL down from the mountain engraved on clay tablets, but we know this is not true because it was a COBOL program that output the tablets.

The CD contains a bunch of COBOL compilers. There are demo versions of Acucobol for Windows 3.1, 95, and NT. There is a set of Deskware COBOL interpreters from Deskware for AIX, Linux, SunOS, Solaris, and Windows 95/NT. The complete Fujitsu development environment for Windows 3.1, 95, and NT as well as for HP-UX and Solaris. There is a demo version of the MicroFocus NetExpress COBOL development environment The CD also contains printable and viewable syntax of the COBOL verbs, and even a bonus chapter not found in the book (it’s on the basics of formatting and printing reports).

One of my favorite parts of the book is the step-by-step procedures for coding the different types of COBOL input and output--sequential, relative, indexed, and sort/merge files. No longer do you have to find a program that has 'similar' I/O and copy the code and hope it works in your program too. Of course, you can still copy stuff--but now you can use the step-by-step procedure to figure out exactly what you just stole.

There is a chapter dedicated to the millennium problem as it occurs in COBOL programs. You can find out about the year 2000 thing (also known as Y2K to those who cannot live without acronyms). You can find out what it looks like and how to fix it.

You will hear COBOL being referred to as COBOL II, or COBOL 2, or COBOL two, or COBOL too. This is just another name for COBOL 85. The way this happened, you see, is that everybody was using COBOL 74 and the computer companies were just calling it COBOL. When these companies came out with a COBOL compiler for the new 85 standard they gave it the marketing name of COBOL II. The name stuck. Maybe they should have called it COBOL two-digit-year-millennium-problem.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
We live in a world where the vast majority of financial information is processed by computers using COBOL. Make a charge on your credit card - COBOL. Receive a credit card statement - COBOL. File an insurance claim - COBOL. Receive a bank statement - COBOL. All of our lives are influenced daily by COBOL programs quietly and competently going about their work. The language is sometimes vilified by "computer experts" who don't quite understand business. But if we were to pull the plug on all these "antiquated" COBOL programs, the lights would go out on our modern life - literally. Like any structure that's been in place for many years - buildings, bridges, highways, etc. - COBOL programs require maintenance. Now we face the turn of the century, and the much publicized (and very real) Year 2000 problem. The academic institutions of this country have failed the business community. As we face the new century, where are the legions of competent COBOL programmers marching to the Year 2000 battle? They are not pouring from universities - that is certain. So with much thanks to IDG Books and author, Arthur Griffith, COBOL For Dummies makes its debut. This work is a refreshing look at the COBOL language and many of the details of its implementation. To the uninitiated, computer languages can be tediously boring. And even to the well worn, workhorse programmer, one technical book is just as dull as another. Yet, COBOL For Dummies is written in a lively, folksy manner that makes you feel like the author really cares whether or not you understand. You get the sense that he's sitting right with you, working you through the concepts of the language. It's the communication. And if the DUMMIES series is really all about communication, Let's Hear It For The Dummies! Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caution: Fujitsu COBOL timed out 12 April 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
We used this as a textbook for an Introduction to COBOL course during Fall Semester (August - December)1998. We sadly discovered that the Fujitsu compiler expired on October 31, 1998. Trick or treat? We use a different text this year... one that includes software that won't expire during the semester.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I must disagree with the overwhelming reviews of this book given by other readers. As a complete novice in the area of computer programming, and after plugging away painfully through the first half of the book before anything started to become comprehensible, I came to one conclusion: either this book on COBOL is not really for "dummies" or I am too much of a "dummy" to even get through "COBOL For Dummies". After reading several other books on other computer languages, I now realize that the former is true. This book is not the place to start.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent second textbook 8 Dec 1999
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
COBOL FOR DUMMIES
I have been using it as a reference text alongside my college textbook and I think that the book is generally very clear and covers a lot of ground, but there are two major omissions: 1) Nearly all the material about printing is in an appendix on the attached CD. Portable Document Format: hate it hate it hate it. 2) There is nothing at all about calling sub-programs with the CALL...USING command.
David Cowie, Baldock, Herts, UK
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
As a dummy, I make lots of typos and syntax errors. This makes Fujitsu compiler spout more syntax errors than the program has lines. Given the tremendous sensitivity (for beginner's programs)the compiler has toward errors, the examples should have been compiler specific. I'm still working through the book, but 90% of the programming time has been spent tracking down compiler related issues.
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2.0 out of 5 stars cobol for dummies 4 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Cobol for dummies is really for dummies. Smart people don't want to buy this book. This book only contain "parts" of program. But not a complete full reference. So people who has no experience in Cobol would finish reading it and end up being confused.
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