Learn You a COBOL for Great Good

The title is a reference to one of my favorite programming language instruction texts: Learn You a Haskell for Great Good. Funny, well-written and instructive. If you want to learn a functional language, Haskell is a fine choice. I still like writing in Scheme – another functional language that’s almost as old as Cobol.

But today’s topic is Cobol, which has been in the news lately, and which has a few programmers dusting off their old textbooks and manuals.  If you want to learn Cobol or brush up on your old Cobol skills, I might be able to help. I developed an online class a few years ago to use for corporate training. Now I’ve decided to publish it for general use.

You can find it here: IBM Enterprise Cobol and as a link at the top of the home page. It was built with the idea of taking a beginner and turning them into a corporate programmer. If you have some mainframe skills already, you can skip some of the beginning lessons.

The course is divided into 5 units, and if you push hard, it’s possible to get through a unit each day – a week of corporate training.  The course comes with an extensive collection of slides – 299 in all.  There are 15 programming problems that you will need to tackle and complete if you are really wanting to learn something.

You can help me by reporting any problems you have with the site or with the material.

So, … I hope this will help you learn a Cobol for great good!

8 thoughts on “Learn You a COBOL for Great Good”

  1. Hi David,

    Thank you very much for uploading the videos. I’ll be watching them in the next few days as a refresher. I signed up for the NJ request for Cobol developers. It would be good to have videos on PL/1. It’s more succinct compared to Cobol. Have you developed in PL/1?

    Take care and best wishes Bob

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Hi Bob,
      Years ago I wrote a little PL/I but not enough to have any expertise. No doubt you know the (probably apocryphal) story of how PL/I came to be: Numerous Language experts were assembled in a common room and asked to write down every feature of a language they would like to see. They all wrote their ideas on boards that covered the walls. IBM photographed the boards and included every single idea in PL/I. False, no doubt, but it makes a good story. It is a large language.

      Good that you signed up to help in NJ. Hope the videos will help.

  2. Dr. Woolbright,
    I just finished going through the IBM/Open Mainframe course which led me to the COBOL Fridays videos which led me here. I’m looking to expand my COBOL & general ZOS knowledge and the material in your Enterprise COBOL Concepts Powerpoint presentation looks like a great next step. Where could I find the sample datasets, e.g. BCST.SICCC01.COBOL.EXER4? Thanks!

  3. Hi Dr. Woolbright,
    I’m trying to watch your videos in the Cobol course but he asked to download the Adobe Player who is not existing anymore, do you have an idea how to watched them?
    Thank you in advance
    Georges Kopp

    1. Georges, The videos were made a number of years ago (more than I wish to think about). I am able to play them on a MAC with Safari, Chrome and FireFox. They also run on my HP box with Chrome and FireFox. I don’t have the original project files any longer – all I have are the MP4s, so I can’t produce them again in a newer version of Camtasia. If I can help somehow, I’m happy to try. Does anyone have a suggestion about how to solve this problem?

      1. Hi, finally solved!
        Was the access to the file from the pdf course, not from the website directly.
        For me the issue is fixed.

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