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TEAM-ADA  May 1997

TEAM-ADA May 1997

Subject:

Re: Another slant on "Ada for CS1"

From:

AdaWorks <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

AdaWorks <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 14 May 1997 16:09:40 -0700

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (66 lines)

On Wed, 14 May 1997, Michael Feldman wrote:

> That was then, this is now. Both West Point and the Air Force Academy
> have switched to Ada as their CS1 language, and are indeed continuing
> it throughout the curriculum. There's no much hope for Annapolis,
> but then the Navy has always has its own way of doing everything.

  Perhaps not at Annapolis, but Ada is alive and actively taught
  at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.  Furthermore, there
  are a bunch of important Navy projects currently under construction
  in which Ada is the primary programming language.

  Sadly, the [ incorrect ] decision to abrogate DoD Ada policy will
  make it all too easy for future projects to be built with whatever
  language is convenient.  The new policy, more akin to legalizing
  polygamy than effecting a nice clean divorce, will foment even
  more arguments about language choice and result in some projects
  becoming even more multilingual than they are now.

  Moreover, the headlong dive into COTS, under the illusion that
  best commercial practices are to be emulated, is a so fraught
  with danger that I am continually surprised that anyone actually
  took it seriously.

  Commercial "best software practice" is far from best software practice.
  Instead, it is best software marketing practice.  I genuinely fear
  for the safety of those personnel who are going to put their lives
  on the line using some of the COTS software I encounter.

  Abrogation of Ada policy will probably be the subject of future
  regretful hindsight. I understand the difference between those who
  are responsible for the decision, and those who reluctantly made
  the decision.  I continue to believe that a Department of Defense
  which could not manage a single-language policy will find it even
  more difficult to manage a multiple-language policy.  And the program
  managers, rather than making a correct choice based on good software
  engineering policy, will be coerced into making such choices on the
  basis of programmer preference.

  More immediatelyly, I have been given some cause to be hopeful. I have met
  some of  the instructors who are teaching Ada at the service academies. In
  particular, those at West Point and NPS.  The West Point Ada faculty is
  a study in excellence.  I am not easily impressed by someone else's
  classroon perfomance, but officers teaching Ada at West Point are
  really special.  Their combination of enthusiasm, ability to explain
  ideas, and depth of subject knowledge lead me to believe that a new
  crop of officers will graduate from the academy with a better
  understanding of the software engineering issues than we could have
  imagined just a few years ago.

  The officers teaching Ada at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) are
  also of very high academic and pedagogical quality.  They too have
  a real understanding of the need to take an engineering view of the
  software process and recognize the importance of Ada in  realizing
  their students' understanding that process.

  So, even though the Pentagon-level management has sent poor little
  Ada shuderring into the cold, brittle, dangerous world populated by
  wild creatures such as C++, those with an engineering view of software
  at the service academies, those who care about the future reliability
  of our warfighters and their tools, continue to support and teach
  Ada to the future leaders of our DoD.  Let's hope they continue to
  be successful in this effort.

  Richard

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