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Howdy All -

I am just wondering if anyone has successfully converted a massive (subjectivity implied) COBOL application to another language. If so, into which language was your system converted and when was this done? What were the potholes you, no doubt, hit? Was the conversion far more expensive than anticipated? What hidden costs were exposed? Was there a performance gain/loss in the new language?

Did anyone convert from COBOL to PL/SQL? to T-SQL? to Java? to C#.NET?

Thanks, and have a great day!

No -- but an interesting question. I would think it would require a total rewrite of the program, unless there exists some program that will attempt to make that conversion. IMO the most difficult problem would be report writers -- COBOL has an excellent report writer that would be difficult to duplicate in other languages. Database, screens and other logic is probably not difficult to duplicate in another language.

I've done COBOL to C and as the previous poster mentioned, the reporting was the hardest. The conversion was pretty much straight forward as both are procedural based languages and you can convert it line by line. Doing so in an OO language would be more involved.

BTW, this was done as we were moving from mainframe based solutions to PC based solutions.

@Momerath - I guess you weren't interested in MicroFocus COBOL? :-) It is (as far as I recollect - I haven't done anything with COBOL in a donkey's age) pretty compatible with most mainframe COLBOL compilers.

But yes, the other posters (Ancient Dragon and Momerath) are absolutely correct.

Great question. If you're looking for a tool to convert your legacy apps such as COBOL to .NET and to HTML5 or even PowerBuilder, VB.NET to modern .NET languages and to HTML5, you should consider Transposition by Gizmox.
I see that most of the responses that you got were that you need to do a complete rewrite of your program and with Gizmox Transposition, this is not the case as it leverages patented compiler algorithms and an advanced Integrated Development Environment. Transposition allows organizations to move to the latest web and cross-platform mobile technologies at a fraction of the time, expense, and risk of rewriting.
Read more on the site:

And this is relevant how? I note that the website referenced does not mention COBOL at all. So are you saying, categorically, that your product supports the coversion of COBOL code to PL/SQL? to T-SQL? to Java? to C#.NET? as asked by the original poster. If not, then I'm afraid that this is looking awfully like poorly targeted spam...

If you wrote that then i guess you haven't read the site thoroughly. it is not to PL/SQL, to T-SQL, to Java but to C#/.NET and HTML5 as suggested.

And, just to clarify for those reading this, from COBOL? Thanks.

Not done it exactly this way, but long ago (10+ years) I was involved with a project that used MicroFocus COBOL, although I don't know COBOL. The existing code originated on some other platform and was being ported to Windows. My role was to write DLLs to provide a wrapper around some Windows code (API calls, some GUI elements and some file handling stuff) so it could easily be called from the COBOL code. Using this approach the core code of the application, the business logic, did not need to change, it was just some i/o that changed. Probably very inefficient compared to a ground-up rewrite but a lot cheaper to implement and it seemed to work OK.
I used Delphi to produce the DLLs but of course it could also have been done in other languages. My impression at the time was that most of the work I did was only really needed because the COBOL guy didn't know anything about writing Windows software. I suspect that most of it could have been done in MicroFocus COBOL - but it was apparently debatable whether the code would like like COBOL to a COBOL purist, even if the developer had been capable of writing it.

There is a high quality, open source COBOL compiler called GnuCOBOL. It translates COBOL code to C, which can then be compiled to machine language on just about any platform. GnuCOBOL can use a variety of database engines, including the C-ISAM database, which is compatible with MicroFocus. If you take a MicroFocus program and re-compile it with GnuCOBOL, it will usually run several times faster. And the resulting program will also run much faster than an equivalent Python program.

commented: Late but good info. +15