I think Rick may have captioned this posting a little more
radically than he intended. His real intent is contained
in the body of the message. I read that message as a call
to Ada advocates, and Rick has been one for a long time, to
evaluate the opportunities in the marketplace for Ada, and
work toward making the language an attractive choice for a
greater number of developers.
No one has done more to make this a reality than Randy at RR
Software with his continuing work on CLAW. No one has put
out more unpaid time on making Ada visible than Rick Conn
and David Botton. No one has done as much to promote Ada
in the educational community as Mike Feldman.
All of us in the Team-Ada forum are interested in the future of
Ada, and most of us are concerned with the quality of software
products that increasingly put human life and safety at risk.
We understand the importance of Ada in making the engineering of
software a "standard" practice. Dr. Feldman, in particular, has
an interesting story he can share about Microsoft recruiters that
have visited his university looking for good hackers.
Now and then some event occurs that makes a difference to the
people who make important decisions. Recently, Mr. Gates attended
a meeting of developers where Bertrand Meyer was a featured
speaker. Most of you know that Bertrand is the principle author
of the Eiffel programming language. Before this event, Mr. Gates
was almost completely unaware of Eiffel. Since that event, Dr.
Meyer's company, ISE in Santa Barbara, has become a Microsoft
partner and Eiffel has raised the interest of Mr. Gates. If
this interest endures, it is possible that we will see Microsoft
embracing Eiffel as one of its development technologies. If it
wanes, Eiffel may be swept into a dustbin of discarded technologies,
and become even more obscure than it is at present.
The question that has been central to our discussions in this forum
is, "How do we raise the interest in Ada among those developers who
are building software worldwide?" Each of us has a stake in the
answer to that question. Each of us recognizes the importance of
building quality software and value of Ada in doing so.
With no budget, no charismatic leader, no unified marketing plan,
and no large organization currently advocating Ada, this is a
formidable, but not impossible task. Rick Conn is certainly
correct that we need to understand the opportunities of Ada in
the Microsoft world. Aonix, RR Software, and ACT, have all put
a fair amount of effort into exploiting those opportunities. However,
without the imprimatur of Microsoft itself, the effort seems to
have fallen short of its promise.
The question of whether Microsoft produces quality software is
somewhat moot when considered in terms of its successful market
share. The question of whether Microsoft products can be called
"standards" is also moot. The issue of whether Microsoft plays
fair (e.g. making its API fully available) is a non-issue in the
quest for a marketing strategy for Ada. I am reminded of a little
verse from Edward Markham, which I cannot quote in its entirety, but
which expresses, I believe, a potential strategy,
"He drew a circle to keep me out,
Heretic, ... , a thing to flout,
But love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle to inclued him in."
The approach taken by Dr. Meyer and ISE has been to "draw a circle
to include " Microsoft in rather than to search for ways to ignore
it, flog it, rail against it, or argue about it. Randy, over at
RR Software, and others in this forum have done the same thing. In
full recognition of Microsoft's weaknesses, Randy, John English,
David Botton, and Jerry van Dijk, among others, have been drawing
a circle to include them in.
As I have said before, much to the dismay of some, we need more of
our Team-Ada members sharing their positive experiences with others
in the software development community. We need more case studies
published where Ada is the implementing technology. We need more
of you presenting papers at conferences using Ada as the example
program. Maybe, we need some event where Bill Gates or Steve
Ballmer is welcomed and where one or the other of them can learn
something about the positive aspects of the current Ada standard.
Instead of complaining about their ignorance, let's find a way
to enlighten them.
Above all, let's find a way to carry on this dialogue without
demonizing each other. The dialogue is healthy. The rancor
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AdaWorks Software Engineering
6 Sepulveda Circle
Salinas, CA 93906
On Wed, 19 Jul 2000, Richard Conn wrote:
> Hi, Everyone,
> To kind of see where I have been going with this discussion on standards
> and Microsoft technologies, consider this:
> 1. We all know Ada is very sick in terms of people adopting it. It seems
> have found its niche in the embedded world (like our airplanes) and not
> much else.
> 2. Microsoft is entering the embedded world big-time with its embedded
> tools. Devices like Auto PCs (for automobiles), Pocket PCs (including
> ruggedized versions with bar scanners), and the like are emerging, and
> these are being programmed in Visual Basic and Visual C++. These are
> where Ada could be making inroads.
> Is anyone doing something about this situation? Are there any Ada compilers
> the Windows CE platform? Are there any plans for such compilers?
> I'm personnally finding Microsoft technologies to meet more and more of my
> This is translating into less and less of a need to continue with Ada. The
> I've offered this group (the Tech Ed 2000 trip report and Windows 2000
> Launch report)
> shows just some of the directions in which Microsoft is moving, and some of
> directions are areas where Ada used to be a prime candidate.
> Richard Conn, Principal Investigator
> Reuse Tapestry