IBM announces the development of a programming assistant that uses generative AI to convert code from Cobol to Java.

IBM develops AI that can translate Cobol into Java

This could likely facilitate maintenance for those dealing with mainframes that still operate on Cobol, a programming language that has been around for over 60 years.

Cobol was designed to be portable and user-friendly for developers creating enterprise applications. As a result, many mainframe applications still contain millions of lines of Cobol code. However, there’s a shortage of programmers skilled in Cobol due to retirements and attrition, making it difficult and costly to maintain these legacy programs. Roy Illsley, Chief Analyst at Omdia, stated to The Register:

If you can find a COBOL programmer, they are expensive. I have seen figures showing they can command some of the highest salaries because so many mission critical apps are written in COBOL and they need maintenance

IBM plans to release the generative AI that can translate Cobol to Java through their AI platform WatsonX sometime during the fourth quarter of this year. The hope is that developers will then find it easier to convert and maintain old Cobol programs running on IBM’s Z-series mainframes.

Christopher Mansfield is a content writer at He creates, edits and manages the production of digital and print content that is consistent with the organization’s brand, style and tone....

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