ISO/ IEC JTC1/SC22 N3313

Programming languages, their environments and system software interfaces
Secretariat:  U.S.A.  (ANSI)
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC22 N3313
JTC 1/SC 22/WG 4 Business Plan and Convenor's Report

SC 22/WG 4 Convenor (A. Bennett)

Other document (Open)

This document will be reviewed at the upcoming SC 22 Plenary under Agenda
Item 8.2 pending the approval of its addition to the agenda.


Address reply to:
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC22 Secretariat
Matt Deane
25 West 43rd Street
New York, NY  10036
Telephone:  (212) 642-4992
Fax:             (212) 840-2298

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

                                        September 12, 2001

Period Covered:

September 2000 - September 2001

Submitted by:

Ann Bennett
Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22/WG 4
IBM M49/F34
P.O. Box 49023
San Jose, CA 95161-9023

1.    Management Summary

1.1    JTC1/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

None in this period.

1.2.2    Projects Underway

22.01.07 Revision of ISO 1989:1985 --

The revision of ISO 1989:1985 provides major new features, including:
cultural adaptability, large character set support, object
orientation, condition 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.

The revision provides continued character handling support for the diverse
coded character sets traditionally used, and still
heavily used, for COBOL data. 

The FCD ballot closed in May 2001. The summary of voting is contained in
N3239; late comments from Sweden are
contained in N3234. 

WG4 meets in November 2001 for FCD ballot resolution. The ITTF has granted a
12-month response time. Object finalization for programming language COBOL (Type 2 TR)

The project editor is preparing a first working draft.

1.2.3     Cancelled Projects


1.3    Cooperation and Competition

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

WG4 has liaisons with the following groups:

     SC22/WG20 - Ann Bennett 
     SC22/WG11 - Don Nelson 

2.    Period Review

2.1     Market Requirements

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

   1.Technology advances and the resulting spread of computers to end users
makes it mandatory that computer systems
     adapt to the languages of users. This gives rise to a need in COBOL for
support of large character sets and cultural
     adaptibility. The COBOL FCD includes substantial support for large
character sets and cultural adaptability.

   2.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 enhanced
interoperability with other programming languages
     and system services. A variety of new datatypes, user-defined
functions, and call enhancements are provided in the FCD
     to support interoperability.

   3.Market pressure for new technology led COBOL vendors to cooperate on
object-oriented design through the
     standardization process. Early implementations of the object-oriented
features in the FCD are now available and users
     are designing them into new applications.

   4.Deployment of applications across workstations and distributed
environments and the growth of COBOL in Unix
     environments generated requirements for new features in the language.
These needs were met by implementor extensions
     to the language, in different ways by different implementors, leading
to a need for post-implementation standardization.
     Many of these extensions are included in the FCD.

   5.Growth of COBOL in the Unix market led X/Open (now Open Group) to
develop a Common Application Environment
     (CAE) providing a portable definition of features essential in a Unix
environment, but lacking in standard COBOL. The
     need for portability between Unix (TM) and non-Unix platforms led to
inclusion of some of these features in the revision.

The revision of ISO/IEC 1989:1985 addresses many of the market requirements
for COBOL, but not all of them. Continued
evolution of the international standard for COBOL is essential to provide
the benefits of new technolgies and new environments
to COBOL users worldwide.

An emerging requirement is interaction of COBOL with Java in a web

2.2     Achievements

The revision document was progressed to FCD. The ballot closed with one
negative vote (from Sweden).

2.3     Resources

WG4 meets as needed, usually once a year, and works by electronic
correspondence between meetings. Five countries are
participating in meetings: Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, the UK, and the

Detailed technical development is delegated to NCITS J4. J4 has 11 voting
members and 6 observer members. 

3.     Focus Next Work Period

WG4 will focus on completing the response to FCD comments and forwarding a
revised document for FDIS, as well as
preparing a PDTR for object finalization.

WG4 expects that defect handling will be necessary when the revision of
ISO/IEC 1989:1985 becomes available.

WG4 will soon begin evaluating the requirements for an object-oriented COBOL
class library. 

3.1     Deliverables

WG4 expects to forward a document for FDIS by May 2002 or sooner. 

3.2     Strategies

3.2.1     Risks

3.2.2     Opportunities

3.3     Work Program Priorities

WG4's highest priority is responding to FCD comments on the revision of
ISO/IEC 1989:1985 and preparation of the FDIS
(project 22.01.07).

Other work is roughly prioritized as follows: 

     preparation of a PDTR for an object finalization feature (project 
     processing of defect reports upon availability of the resvision of ISO
     evaluation of the requirements for an object-oriented class library 

4.     Other Items

This section includes items that are part of the Converner's report, but not
part of the Business Plan.

4.1     Action Requests at the 2001 Plenary

No requests for immediate action.

However, the WG4 convener would like to bring to SC22's attention the
possibility that requirements for character handling in
programming languages need to be re-evaluated with respect to the various
forms of ISO/IEC 10646. Currently, WG4 is
operating under previous SC22 direction that characters in ISO/IEC 10646 be
processed at the code element level, rather than
the "text element" or "logical character" level, until industry develops the
technology for logical character processing of ISO/IEC
10646. Comments accompanying the negative vote from Sweden on FCD 1989
suggest a need to take the next step in
character handling; this is perhaps best highlighted by the Swedish comment
on COBOL's national character datatype: 

     "Instead have a (new) datatype specifically for Unicode (recommended
encoding form: UTF-16)." 

Before WG4 launches design of a new datatype specifically for Unicode, the
WG4 convener requests that SC22 undertake
evaluation of the requirements and the possible approaches that might be
taken in programming languages, especially with
respect to handling of composite sequences and surrogate pairs. The timing
of any such evaluation depends on the urgency
perceived within SC22; the WG4 convener does not make any specific request
with respect to timing. 

4.2     Schedule

The schedule for project 22.01.07 is as follows: 
DIS start:  June 2002
Forward IS to ITTF:  December 2002

The schedule for project is as follows: 
Combined registration and PDTR ballot:   July 2002
DTR (allowing for 2 PDTR ballots):  January 2004 
TR to ITTF:  June 2004

4.3     WG4 Meetings

4.3.1     Recent Meetings

May 2000, Newbury, UK     (co-located with an NCITS J4 meeting)

4.3.2     Future Meetings

November 5-8, 2001     (co-located with an NCITS J4 meeting)

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