COBOL 2014

The Lounge
  • Brian Tiffin
    Brian Tiffin

    Did anyone hear about

    ISO/IEC 1989:2014
    Information technology -- Programming languages, their environments and system software interfaces -- Programming language COBOL

    being published, ummm, back in May, ??

    Curious as to why this news wasn't on CNN, or CBC, or did I miss the town crier that day? ;-)


    Donald Nelson, lead author of the document, clarified: The spec has been Published, but as of July 28th, is awaiting Approval. There was no news missed, as it isn't quite news yet. Close, but not quite. Sorry for ringing the bells early.

    Last edit: Brian Tiffin 2014-07-28
    • Simon Sobisch
      Simon Sobisch

      Nope. Thank you for this information.

      Here is the link to with no preview available and quite expensive to buy the PDF, here is a link to a much cheaper version providing the following preview (From beginning of the document to "2 Normative References", including the table of content).

      As the PDF is not that cheap: can anyone highlight the important changes from the possible still free to access FCD (free like in free beer, not in free software/speech ;-)?

      BTW: I didn't find any "We do not own COBOL" part in ISO/IEC 1989:2014 preview.

    • Knowing that lot properly want an arm and a leg to buy it.

      Very expensive .pdf's !

      Last edit: Simon Sobisch 2014-09-05
    • Bernard Giroud
      Bernard Giroud

      Was at least announced by a tweet dated 01:45 - 4 juin 2014 by ANSI ISO


      Last edit: Simon Sobisch 2014-09-05
  • Edward Hart
    Edward Hart

    This topic gave me a shock – I had the exact same thing sitting in my drafts. At least I can reply more quickly, then! Note: the following is based on the 2010 Final Committee Draft, which I assume the finished standard does not differ too much from.

    Headline changes:

    • Dynamic-capacity tables – for those with memory constraints or who dislike bounded sizes.
    • Structured constants (CONSTANT RECORD) – a more flexible, faster alternative to INITIALIZE.
    • Method overloading – for those who use OO.
    • ANY LENGTH items have been overhauled – see below.

    Other changes:

    • Standard arithmetic has been made obsolete and new IEEE 754 USAGE's have been added
    • Lots of features have been made optional (e.g. the report writer, SCREEN SECTION, object-orientation, VALIDATE*)
    • New formatted date intrinsic functions (conforming to ISO 8601), as well as TRIM and SECONDS-PAST-MIDNIGHT
    • 8 rounding modes
    • function pointers
    • Non-numeric literals are now between 0 and 65,535 characters long.

    ANY LENGTH items:

    Previously, ANY LENGTH items existed only in the LINKAGE SECTION. Now, they can be used anywhere. They can be null-terminated and stored via a pointer (I presume) via the INDIRECT clause*, thereby allowing seamless interaction with C libraries. They can also be prefixed with a number containing their length and can have maximum sizes. The default structure of an ANY LENGTH item is implementor-defined.

    One gotcha I foresee is  MOVE SPACES TO any-length-item  which will now set that item's length to zero, not fill it with spaces!

    * I want to believe it will be implemented one day.

    ** In the 2010 FCD, INDIRECT is referenced multiple times but never actually defined so I have no idea where you use it.

  • Brian Tiffin
    Brian Tiffin

    I added a correction to the top post. I jumped the gun. The spec is Published, but as of July 28th, is still awaiting Approval, expected shortly.

    Apologies for spreading technically inaccurate information. The official ISO/IEC announcement hasn't happened yet.


    • Edward Hart
      Edward Hart

      Approval from whom? As the standard has been published, ISO must have already approved it.

      Are they waiting for ANSI to adopt the standard? It featured in the draft agenda of their April meeting (282f).

  • Brian Tiffin
    Brian Tiffin


    I can't speak to the ins and outs of ISO/IEC, but Donald Nelson, the lead author of the spec, posted this to LinkedIn, (it's an open group, luckily, so I'm pretty sure this is ok to copy along with the link)

    I sent the final draft of the 2014 standard off a year ago. I finally got some comments for minor repairs back a few months ago. I sent the final final copy off in April, but got another comment and sent the final final final copy off in May. I think the actual approval is underway and should end very soon.

    And Thane Hubbell posted (in a closed group, so this is a paraphrase) that just happens to look almost identical to the original :-)

    Normally we have ISO publication followed by ANSI adoption.
    It's significant.
    I don't know the ANSI status

    So, the confetti and fanfare awaits, I guess.


    Last edit: Brian Tiffin 2014-07-30
  • Brian Tiffin
    Brian Tiffin

    William Klein sent a note to the mailing list.

    Cheers to Bill.

    2014 ANSI Cobol Standard

    Recently, I indicated that I would tell this list when and how to obtain the 2014 ANSI Cobol Standard. It can now be purchased (for 157 USD) from the following link:

    There may be shorter or more direct links, but this should get you to where you can purchase for download the ANSI version of the 2014 Cobol Standard. The ISO version is also available online, but I believe the ANSI version is less expensive and the technical content is identical.

    The ISO version was approved early last Summer and the ANSI version was adopted on Oct 31. I have also seen the BSI version on the web, but I didn't check what its pricing was like.

    I hope this is helpful and of interest to at least some of you. Please feel free to pass this on to any other individuals or distribution lists that might find it of interest.

    Happy New Year,

    Bill Klein