Business Plan and Convener's Report
JTC1/SC22/WG4 - Programming Language COBOL

August 18, 2005

Period Covered:

July 2004 - August 2005

Submitted by:

Don Schricker
Convener, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22/WG 4
4012 Nancy Margarite Lane
Las Vegas, NV 89130

Tel:  978-314-6821

1.    Management Summary

1.1    JTC 1/SC22 WG4 Statement of Scope

Development and maintenance of ISO/IEC standards related to programming language COBOL.

1.2    Project Report

1.2.1    Completed Projects

22.01.07 Revision of ISO/IEC 1989:1985

This document was published in 2002.

The revision provides major new features, including: cultural adaptability, large character set support, object orientation, exception handling, new data-types (bit, floating point, native binary), portable arithmetic, conditional compilation, user-defined functions, file sharing/record locking, and improved interoperability with other programming languages. Object finalization for programming language COBOL (Type 2 TR)

This TR was published in 2003.

1.2.2    Projects Underway

22.01.08 Native COBOL syntax for XML support (Type 2 TR)

The SC22 ballot for combined registration and approval of pdTR 24716 was approved by SC22 this year as indicated by SC22 N3908.  WG4 is developing a response to the comments.

22.01.09 COBOL collection classes (Type 2 TR)

The SC22 ballot for combined registration and approval of pdTR 24717 was approved by SC22 this year as indicated by SC22 N 3909.  WG4 is developing a response to the comments.

1.2.3     Projects Withdrawn


1.3    Cooperation and Competition

WG4 cooperates closely with INCITS COBOL Technical Committee J4, to whom SC22 has delegated the technical development and maintenance of COBOL.

There is no apparent direct competition with any other standards development organization.

2.    Period Review

2.1     Market Requirements

COBOL continues to be widely used for development of programs and for enhancement and re-engineering of existing applications. Many factors drive the market for COBOL standardization:

  1. The trend in the industry is to web-enable COBOL applications, with COBOL running on a server interacting with a non-COBOL user interface. This gives rise to the need for XML support in the COBOL language. The rapidly developing use of XML and the interest on the part of users and COBOL vendors in the development of features in COBOL for handling XML led WG4 to respond with the development of Technical Report 24, Native COBOL syntax for XML support.
  2. Market pressure for new technology led COBOL vendors to cooperate on object-oriented design through the standardization process. Implementations of the object-oriented features are now available and users are designing them into new applications. However, the lack of COBOL O-O class libraries, particularly for collection classes, is seen as hindering the use of object-oriented features in COBOL.  WG4 is responding to this with the development of Technical Report 24717, COBOL Collection classes.
  3. The dynamic nature of data processing today has given rise to the need for variable length data items and variable length tables.  These will be addressed in the next revision.

Continued evolution of the international standard for COBOL is essential to provide the benefits of new technologies and new environments to COBOL users worldwide.

2.2     Achievements

WG4 received 15 defect reports in the reporting period.  WG4 responded to these 15 defects in RoR #2 (SC22 N3890) and TC #2. (SC22 N3891). WG4 has no open defect reports.

2.3     Resources

WG4 meets as needed, usually once a year, and works by electronic correspondence between meetings. Experts from five "P" member countries participate in meetings: Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, the UK, and the USA. Two experts from "O" member New Zealand participate in the most meetings.

Detailed technical development is delegated to INCITS J4. J4 has 7 members participating in detailed technical development.

3.     Focus Next Work Period

WG4 will focus on the following:

3.1     Deliverables

A DTR for collection classes and a DTR for XML support

A CD for the revision

TC1 and TC2 for publication

TC3 for SC22 ballot

3.2     Strategies

WG4 relies on INCITS J4 to carry out the detailed technical work and to identify issues needing WG4 direction.

3.2.1     Risks

No risks are foreseen.

3.2.2     Opportunities

No opportunities have been identified beyond those noted in the Work Program Priorities.

3.3     Work Program Priorities

WG4 has the following priorities:

4.     Administrative Information

4.1     WG4 liaisons

WG4 has liaisons with the following groups:

4.2     WG4 Meetings

4.2.1     Recent Meetings

10-13 September 2002, Nara, Japan

26-28 June 2003, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA    

18-21 October 2004, The Hague, The Netherlands

4.4.2     Future Meetings

17-21 October 2005, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA    

5.     SC22 Plenary Actions Related to WG4

5.1  Subdivide the work item to create a revision of the COBOL standard.


Proposed resolution:


ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22 approves the subdivision of project 22.01.01 for revision of ISO/IEC 1989:2002.


5.2  Approve Charles Stevens as the convener of WG4.


Mr. Charles Stevens has the endorsement of the U.S. national body.


Proposed resolution:


ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22 approves Charles Stevens as the convener of WG4.


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