Job Control Language

Also found in: Dictionary, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

job control language

[′jäb kən‚trōl ‚laŋ·gwij]
(computer science)

Job Control Language

(language, operating system)
(JCL) IBM's supremely rude script language, used to control the execution of programs in IBM OS/360's batch systems. JCL has a very fascist syntax, and some versions will, for example, barf if two spaces appear where it expects one.

Most programmers confronted with JCL simply copy a working file (or card deck), changing the file names. Someone who actually understands and generates unique JCL is regarded with the mixed respect one gives to someone who memorises the phone book. It is reported that hackers at IBM itself sometimes sing "Who's the breeder of the crud that mangles you and me? I-B-M, J-C-L, M-o-u-s-e" to the tune of the "Mickey Mouse Club" theme to express their opinion of the beast.

As with COBOL, JCL is often used as an archetype of ugliness even by those who haven't experienced it. However, no self-respecting mainframe MVS programmer would admit ignorance of JCL.

See also fear and loathing.


(Job Control Language) A command language for mini and mainframe operating systems that launches applications. It specifies priority, program size and running sequence as well as the files and databases used.