> We have recently come under pressure to change our initial teaching
> language for CS1 from Ada 95 to Java. Apparently this is the sexy
> thing to do inspite of the poor/obscure C-like syntax, lack of a
> language standard, poor compiler error messages,.....
Probably won't help, but try to induce those applying the pressure to give
you a detailed list of what they think you will get from Java that you
can't get from Ada 95, and then give them an honest comparison of both
languages on each point. Yeah, honest: so what if Ada loses a couple of
points? surely she will win on most.
One of the points on which Ada may appear to lose is "security." But if
you look around, you can find plenty of security bugs mentioned on the
Web, showing that Java's security, while a well-intentioned attempt at a
Good Thing, falls a little short of its claims.
Some of the points may be addressed by John McCormick's experience
switching from C to Ada in a real-time class. (with C, and half the work
done for them, no one ever completed the project; with Ada, and 10% done
for them, half completed it.)
Many of the alleged benefits of Java can be shown to have nothing to do
with the language itself. Programs in MANY languages can run on a JVM and
use standard Java APIs. http://grunge.cs.tu-berlin.de/vmlanguages.html
This URL also mentions a large number of extensions to Java, showing that
there is certainly plenty of places where even Java fans feel it is
deficient. (My opinion is that a few of these would make Java worse, but
that's another topic.)
You have apparently succeeded in keeping C/C++ from supplanting Ada--point
out the harmful features of those languages that Java did NOT overcome.
Point out the beneficial features of Ada that Java did not pick up.
Point out the features of C/C++ that Java abandoned as "dangerous" but
which Ada 95 proves can be done safely.
I wish I could give you details of a simple GUI that I did in Java _with_
a GUI builder--which took an absurd amount of time and over a hundred
lines of code, but could have been done in ten minutes and under twenty
lines of TCL/Tk/wish with _no_ GUI builder. (Not pertinent to Ada, but
certainly not a "sell" for Java.)