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Cast analyzed factors such as the stability of an application and likelihood of introducing defects when modifying it; efficiency of software performance; ability to prevent security breaches; transferability, the ease with which a new team can understand an application and become productive working on it; and the ability to quickly and easily modify an application.

These factors were rolled up into a score called “technical debt,” the theoretical cost of repairing each line of code (at a rate of $75 per hour) that doesn’t follow good practices, as Computerworld notes. Java EE’s technical debt was pegged at $5.42 per line of code while Cobol impressed with a score of $1.26. Oracle Forms and .NET were second- and third-worst behind Java, with the industry average settling at $3.61. ABAP did the best with a score near zero.