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The fundament of all is incredibly simple. Good knowledge a couple of concepts about program structure, level organized data description and "program-meanings" for a some dozens words from common English. And with this equipment one can understand not only twenty or thirty years old legacy program with tausends lines but most modern OO or Web Cobol handling in the same way.
Yes, it's incredible but from user's language point of view COBOL-02 Object Oriented extension contains only one (!) new statement - "invoke". There are then some headers (class-id, method-id), clauses for links to OO-libraries and a new data typ - "object reference" to it. But all the other for class/method programming and using standard libraries from multilingual OO environment is the same as in COBOL-74 or 85.
As far as the CGI (MF-COBOL) and .NET extensins is concerned, it is similar. In the first case - new clauses "external form" for group, "identified by" for elementary items and "exec html" for embedded tag sequences. And .NET is essentially the OO standard mentioned earlier with a couple of tags to it.
The last example is Native COBOL Syntax for XML Support (ISO/IEC-J4). New file organization "xml" and external schema "library.xsd" in select clause, mentioned "identified by" in elementary items and some extension phrases to "read" and "write" statements. Main portion of work then is programming of multi-levels or multi-occurs data structures and handling with them in the same way as in the COBOL-60 (!!!).
In summary we can say that the classical concepts of programming in Cobol language defined from COBOL-60 to COBOL-85 norms constantly represent essential part of its qualities. With good knowledge of this fundament is understanding even of the most modern extensions very easy.
And there is the first and main thing what can be even older Cobol compiler for. The combination free Cevela MX COBOL with free Borland TC 2.01 historical packet offers the simpliest and cheapiest personal way to achieve basic skills and knowledge in the sense mentioned above.