Pascal vs Fortran vs Perl vs Haskell vs COBOL


Picking the right programming language from the huge array of languages can be challenging indeed. There are so many new languages coming up regularly, while several of the old ones are still going strong. Choosing a programming language would, of course, depend a lot – on the expertise of your software development team, the kind of application you are going to build, the complexity of the application, development time, resources, time to market and so on. 

Often, companies rely on the knowledge and expertise of their developer team before they choose the programming language. This proved that the language should gel well with the business needs, not just because a particular language is trendy and popular. Skilled developers are cautious while choosing the programming language because they know the wrong choice can backfire on them.

Comparing the different programming languages 

Keeping that in mind let’s have a comparison of a few programming languages of choice:

Pascal vs Fortran vs Perl vs Haskell vs COBOL

By the end of this discussion, you will have a better understanding which one would be more suitable to your project requirements. 

Pascal: Delivers a modular approach to programming

Pascal, made by Niklaus Wirth and named after the mathematician Blaise Pascal, offers a balanced approach to programming. It has a structured and modular approach, and both beginners and experienced programmers are quite comfortable using it. It allows developers to define complex structured data types and build dynamic and recursive data structures, for example, lists, trees and graphs.

Many programming teachers use Pascal because it enables them to introduce structured programming techniques to students. Pascal might be a blast from the past, but if it was strong in the 1970s and 1980s, it is stronger now. Many programmers still use Pascal for platforms, operating systems and processors. 

Another reason for the popularity of the programming language is because it is so close to the human language, and has simple and straightforward syntax. The language gives strong emphasis to structured programming, so you have maintainable and organised code. Pascal can be used for small to medium sized language or simple programming language where cutting edge language isn’t required. 

Fortran – The language used by the Scientific and Engineering Communities

Fortran is also a fairly old language meant mainly for numeric computations and scientific computing. IBM developed Fortran in the 1950s, and even though the programming language might be old, it is still extensively used for computationally intensive areas. Examples could be geophysics, computational physics, numerical weather prediction, finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, crystallography, and computational chemistry. 

The popularity of Fortran and the availability of a wide range of libraries makes it well-established among the scientific and engineering communities. These libraries enable developers to use the vast array of functions and tools so they can perform complex calculations and simulations. 

The programming language supports parallel programming, enabling cleaner looking code and increases the future proofness of your code. It is an excellent choice for applications requiring heavy numerical calculations, simulations, and scientific modelling.

Fortran is constantly innovating and evolving. It is actually much better than C/C++ and has made more progress in certain areas. 

The programming has a strict backward compatibility policy, and so an obvious choice for long-term compatibility needs. Many people still prefer to use Fortran because of its features.

However, there are some disadvantages to using Fortran, mainly for modern tooling like build systems and package managers. It doesn’t even have a standard library or a thriving open-source community. It is not as flexible or versatile as the modern languages of today. 

PERL – Powerful in Text processing and Automation

PERL, short for Practical Extraction and Reporting Language, is the ideal choice for text processing, string manipulation, and automation tasks. System administrators and developers working on tasks like parsing log files, extracting data, and automating repetitive actions prefer to use PERL because of its flexible syntax and powerful regular expression support features. 

Manipulating text is the number one and most powerful feature of PERL, and it is no wonder because the programming language has been the goto language for regex, HTML parsing, JSON manipulation, etc for more than 30 years. The language is thus perfect for doing tasks like manipulating, extracting and transforming strings. 

The programming language also provides support for cross-platform app development, and works in unison with mark-up languages like HTML, XML etc. is used in diverse tasks like web development, database access, log analysis or web crawling.

Developers can embed the language in web servers and database servers because it is an embeddable language. Presently developers use PERL to manage cloud-based services to develop apps integrated with speech recognition, sequencing genomes etc. 

It is obvious that PERL is not extinct, developers still use the programming language, and still in its prime years. PERL 7 is the best proof of that. This is because even though new technologies have been introduced, the importance of PERL has never diminished, because the language has been evolving and still offers excellent solutions.

Haskell: Functional Capability for Complex Applications

Haskell is a functional programming language and is known among the programming languages circles as a concise, high-level, practical and very fast language. Concurrency in Haskell is easy when compared to other programming languages. It has several high-quality libraries and a very strong and supportive community, especially for parallelism and concurrency. 

However, Haskell has a steep learning curve, and is used in academia and industry. It lets you write concise and maintainable code for complex applications and hence, perfect for complex applications. Developers use the programming where correctness and safety are of prime concern, for example financial systems and compilers. 

Thus developers use it for projects where maintainability, correctness, and expressive code are essential.

COBOL – the choice for Legacy Systems and Enterprise Software

COBOL is short for “Common Business-Oriented Language, and has been around since 1950. This language is used primarily in legacy systems and enterprise software. The language meant exclusive for data processing, mainframe environments and business applications. Because of its strong focus on data manipulation and processing, COBOL has become an irreplaceable choice for complex and critical business operations. 

There are some who believe that the COBOL’s syntax and design are somewhat archaic, but there are some who believe strongly in the language’s capability.


From the above, it is obvious that each of the programming languages have their own use and purpose. However, have a look at them in a very short brief:

Pascal is perfect for beginners and small projects because of its balanced approach.

Fortran is the go-application for numerical computations.

Perl is just amazing with its versatility for text processing, manipulation and automation.

Haskell is the ideal choice because of its functional elegance for complex applications

COBOL is where you should place your bet for legacy systems and enterprise software.

Interesting Links:

Choosing the right Programming Language for your Project

More information about Fortran

Pictures: Canva

The author: Sascha Thattil works at which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT department.

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