I started my career writing macro-level Assembler code to run under CICS. We would carry our carefully edited coding sheets over to a small set of dumb terminals at our appointed hour. Efficient typing was a must, as we had to share these terminals.
PCs replaced dumb terminals and coding sheets have gone the way of carbon paper. But today, many of the techniques developers opt for aren’t much more advanced than the ones we used in the 80’s. This limits how well the mainframe can play in the 21st century.
COBOL was created in 1959. Designed to run on more than one kind of mainframe, it still powers 70 percent of business and transaction systems, and 90 percent of financial transactions. That means billions of transactions are depending on the reliability, maintainability and adaptability of a language that is more than 50 years old.
Yet languages like COBOL can take time to learn. To write efficient, optimized code quickly is a skill that may take years to develop. Back in the 80’s, we were allowed a year or two to code a new application; businesses can no longer wait that long to offer customers the new functionality they demand. The standard method of developing code is just too inefficient. There are several approaches that offer a better path.
One of these is Architected Rapid Application Development (ARAD). Become an expert in this area. Learn how to exploit the software that writes much of the code for you through frameworks and patterns. ARAD is a smart version of object-oriented design which works well with Agile development methodologies. The result is faster turnaround on application requests using code that has already proven itself to perform well. ARAD just makes smart people smarter and more efficient and the training "bar" is low.
Software vendors provide great ARAD tools which are essentially code bases. Reusable code segments, such as GUIs, can be easily rendered by even the greenest developers. But what makes these tools so great, beyond speeding development, is that they offer the ability to modernize code where you felt no modernization was possible.
When you can respond to requests for code modification and even new programs quickly, you help to ensure that the mainframe will continue to have a robust presence in your data center. Check out this option. Mainframe development is still a great job opportunity.