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From: Emanuel Berg
Subject: Cobol
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2017 01:47:40 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.4 (gnu/linux)

After getting a book, "COBOL from Pascal" [1]
I've started with Pascal, I mean Cobol, which
is almost as old as Lisp. COBOL is from 1959
while the original LISP is from 1958, with
CL and Elisp more recent editions from the

However despite being almost exactly as old,
Lisp is timeless whereas Cobol really shows its
age, and everything about it seems really old.

The best way to learn a new language is
1) get a book and 2) get an Emacs mode.

Step 2 offered somewhat of a surprise as there
is no built in Emacs mode for Cobol! The is
a mode in the ELPA which is called
cobol-mode.el. (Actually, it is the only hit
I get for "cobol" in both ELPA and MELPA!)

Here is what the package tells us, first paragraph:

    This file should not be confused with
    Rick Bielawski's cobol-mode.el
    which this mode attempts to supersede.

That's generous, but it sounds like
Mr. Bielawski's mode is more developed and/or
used. This is not an uncommon thing.
For example, there is a built-in web browser in
vanilla Emacs, the `eww', however the
Japanese-made 3rd-party Emacs w3m browser is at
this stage another caliber of software.

To add to the confusion, in the Emacs Wiki, on
the Cobol mode [2], it says

    The most recent cobol-mode is now available
    on ELPA and is the most up-to-date and
    featureful of the available cobol-modes.

So what mode should one use? I'm trying out
both right now... (and it is irritating they
are both called the same)

And if the ELPA mode really is better, why not
include it in vanilla Emacs since it is just
one file of 81K?

Programming modes should always be included,
one would think.

[1] @book{cobol-from-pascal,
      author     = {A. J. Tyrrell},
      ISBN       = {978-0-333-48303-9},
      publisher  = {Macmillan},
      title      = {COBOL from Pascal},
      year       = 1989


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