From: Tim Josling <tej@me...> - 2002-08-04 01:31:41
We now have a project 'COBOL-UTILS' for common components of the three Free
COBOL projects. Initially the project will be used for a common version of the
NIST test suite. Later we intend to put major subsystems such as sort and
report writer into this project.
COBOL For GCC and Open COBOL projects have been talking about combining
efforts. In the meantime competition is keeping us all working hard.
I keep hearing rumors that a major software vendor is considering making its
COBOL compiler Free Software or Open Source. This would be a great development
particularly if the compiler were written in a mainstream language, rather
One thing that gets in the way of companies releasing software as Free
Software is that often proprietary software is in pretty bad shape internally
and needs considerable renovation before it can match the coding and
documentation standards of other free software.
Keisuke Nishida (knishada@...) has released version 0.9.6. At the
moment the focus is on making the software more robust and usable rather than
adding lots of new features. Release 0.9.6 has many bug fixes and improvements
to configuration. It has support for internationalisation, using GNU gettext.
I get the feeling that the pace of work on Open COBOL has slowed down
slightly, which is only to be expected given the frenetic pace of the previous
Activity was mainly focussed on bug fixes and improved support for different
Release 0.58 is now available. It includes better support for comments and
debugging lines, concatenation, inspect converting, some support for
declaratives. The compiler is now a lot easier to use, due to better default
options. TC now supports embedded SQL statements. Work on Tiny COBOL remains
COBOL For GCC
I now have the CALL verb working. The support at the moment is for
COBOL-to-COBOL calls. I will shortly add supports for COBOL to C and C to
COBOL calls. Once this is done I will be packaging the software up for my
first release. The compiler now contains a sufficient subset to allow useful
programs to be written, and I plan to write all future runtime routines in
In addition, I converted the compiler from version 3.1 of GCC to version 3.2,
which required major changes. I had to totally rewrite the memory management
routines. A major bug hunt was also needed because all the code optimisation
stopped working. That's all fixed now.
Open COBOL generates C code, whereas COBOL for GCC integrates into the GCC
code generation back end. Tiny COBOL generates X86 assembler code directly. I
have found that integrating into GCC has created a lot of extra work, although
in the end I think the result will be a better compiler.
I am still working hard on COBOL for GCC.
My other 'hobby' is managing my investment portfolio. Fortunately I had read
enough investment history to recognise the US markets of a couple of years ago
as a bubble of historic proportions, so I got into cash in time. One good clue
was when people started to say "This time it's different". Another was when
people who had never invested in their lives started asking for stock tips. At
the time of writing, I still think things still have a fair way to fall,
especially the NASDAQ, but the downside risks are reducing. To give some
perspective on how far markets can fall, remember that the Japanese market
fell from about 35,000 to under 10,000. They don't always stop at fair value.
I find the combination of psychology and technical issues involved in
investing to be quite absorbing.
For me the free software world is a refreshing change from the lies and deceit
so often seen in business and in politics.