The Classics

March 22, 2007

Recently I talked about the shift in direction at my current engagement from a major redesign effort utilizing Java and Eclipse plug-ins with a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) to refactoring and enhancing the existing COBOL applications. I have nothing against COBOL and JCL - I used them for nearly a decade when I first started out as a programmer. When people ask me what I do for a living my first reaction is to say, "I'm a programmer."

So I'm not putting down COBOL or the people who make their living developing in that environment. For all their flash and appeal, the Java/Ruby/C#/HTML development environments so popular today can't quite match the mystique of JES spools, IEFBR14, and IDCAMS. It's just not what I want to do in my career any more. I've always been driven by learning something new, exploring what a new platform or tool will do for me. I'm happiest when I have new software to play with and incorporate into my daily working life.

Still, I have enjoyed the nostalgia trip the past couple of weeks, trying to remember various tidbits from my roots as a programmer. That I immediately remembered, upon opening a program listing in ISPF, that F8 would scroll down and F7 up, pleased me. They may be old and rusty, but the skills that once served me well are still in my toolbox.

With all of that in mind, I went to my storage locker first thing this morning (big, empty, creepy in a 6 am rainstorm) and dug out several dusty texts to bring to work. Such classics as System 370/390 JCL and The Programmer's ANSI COBOL Reference Manual.

Now all I need is a radio station playing rock-n-roll from the 1980s and I'll be right at home. Oh. Wait. Rock-n-roll from the 1980s is all classic rock stations play. Bitchin'.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.