I’ve been interested in learning COBOL for years, mainly out of curiosity. Governor Phil Murphy’s call for volunteers pushed me to examine the topic further…

You can dive into COBOL specifically with the resources below but you’ll probably also want to learn about mainframes and some COBOL-associated technologies (JCL, CCIS).

Its important to note that there has been a flood of interest from both experienced COBOL developers and newbies looking to enter the field. I don’t expect this to be an easy road to get a job. The problems being faced right now are significant and will likely require experienced COBOL developers.

In the longer term there may be an opportunity…but that will depend on whether government/businesses get serious about modernizing some of their systems, which is a significant monetary investment and historically crises have not been enough to modernize systems (e.g. Y2K bug).






Development Tooling

  • Zowe – open source, free.

Editors / IDEs

  • NetCOBOL (see compilers)
  • Micro Focus’ Visual Cobol (see compilers)
  • OpenCobolIDE – free, open source. Based on GnuCOBOL and pyQode, no longer mantained, last release was 12/2016.
    • This IDE is really simple to use. I’d initially started with IBM’s Z Open Editor but indentation tripped me up. OpenCobolIDE made this simple and running an application was intuitive.
  • isCOBOL IDE – from veryant, built on Eclipse.
  • IBM Z Open Editor – Provides COBOL and PL/I support for VSCode.
  • Broadcom Code4z – Shares many similarities with Che4z but can be used with Visual Studio Code, free, open source.
  • Eclipse Che4z – Uses Eclipse Che as a development environment for coding on mainframes, open source and free. Supports COBOL, HLASM.



If you are looking to create COBOL applications for mainframes you’ll probably need an emulator – unless you happen to have a spare REAL mainframe laying around. See the mainframe page for emulation options.


High Level Articles on COBOL

We Knew This Was Coming