Give a chap a break

(Or, he's old and writes in Cobol – he must be a dinosaur!)

Given that my career has been based around designing and writing mainframe systems in Cobol you may expect me not to know anything else. I will admit that there are many people in my sector that really don't look beyond their current boundaries. To many that has meant, when faced with new technology, doing as little as is needed. For example, when faced with using a mainframe terminal emulation, they learn nothing more than how to log on to a Windows network. Their skills may eventually extend to sending the occasional email or writing a document, but that's it — they have no real desire to learn anything beyond what is required. They are nothing more than, in a broad sense, a user.

Not me.

I bought a PC back in 1989, not long after I started working freelance. Since then I've hammered away at all sorts of applications, development environments and languages. For example, although I've never used it for a client, I've 15 years of experience with Borland Pascal, Object Pascal and Delphi. I wouldn't dream of claiming to be an expert, but it has given me an extremely good grounding for other languages. Try explaining Objects to a programmer who has never seen anything but Cobol and watch the wax in his ear melt as his brains fry.

I'm not an expert and I'm not a jack-of-all-trades either, but I'm a fast learner, I'm flexible and have years of business and development experience.

Can an Old Dog learn new tricks?

Just watch me…

Besides being (near enough) self taught in Cobol, I'm competent with HTML, CSS and PHP. I've written a number of Lotus Notes applications (for a client) using LotusScript, which is very similar to Visual Basic. I'm also proficient in OPL, the language I used to develop my shareware timekeeping application.

For web site development I use a number of tools. I use Adobe (ex Macromedia) Dreamweaver 8.0 to edit and organize HTML/XHTML & CSS and Fireworks 8.0 for image creation and manipulation. When the going gets tough with CSS I use Style Master 4 to help me out and, as a general aid, the Web Developer extension for Firefox.

When I'm hacking MySQL databases I use EMS MySQL Manager and when I need to debug PHP scripts I use ActiveState Komodo.

Why Firefox?

Firefox and Opera both adhere very closely to the W3C standards for XHTML and CSS. This means that writing for one of them usually results in code that works in any browser that does a good job of supporting the standards. It is then easier to massage the good code to work in bad browsers — without breaking the good code — than it is to bend bad code to work in good browsers. At a personal level, I find Firefox's interface and extensions far more useful than any other browser I've tried.

Copyright © 2005 Iceforce Systems Limited