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Sender: "Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)" <[log in to unmask]>
From: Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tue, 5 Nov 1996 23:32:14 -0500
In-Reply-To: <[log in to unmask]> from "Tucker Taft" at Nov 5, 96 10:35:46 pm
Reply-To: Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Parts/Attachments: text/plain (99 lines)
> > ...
> > the tone of the report is such as to _discourage_ use of Ada outside
> > the required domain. I'm surprised it wasn't more nuanced. This report
> > has got to contribute to a negative spiral, virtually _guaranteeing_
> > that Ada has virtually no chance of commercial success.
> I don't buy that.  The reputation of Ada is clearly on the upswing,
> thanks to GNAT and Ada 95 and team-ada.  This upswing has nothing to
> do with the vagueries and confusion of the US DoD Ada policy.

This is true, but your answer does not speak to the negative tone of
much of the report and its possible impact on the industry, After
all, this report was eagerly awaited and produced by a committee
that was well-balanced and independent. I was quite surprised at
a few rather extreme statements in the report like "virtually no chance
that Ada will be commercially successful." A statement that unequivocal,
given the lemming effect on this industry, could be a self-fulfilling

The quoted phrase above was a commentary on the overall industry,
not just on DoD. Why, in your opinion, Tuck, is it so negative?
It's almost gratuitously so.

> We always knew that at some point the DoD was going to move away
> from mandates as part of its move toward commercially oriented contracting.
> It was only a matter of time.

Certainly, but that doesn;t mean the committee had to put such a strong
imprimatur on it.

> This may be the time Ada has been awaiting, to finally wean itself from the
> US DoD, and prove itself on its own merits.  I firmly believe that it
> will be easier to operate in the Ada market if this report has the effect
> of reducing some of the uncertainty about the DoD Ada policy, even if
> the uncertainty is resolved in terms of narrowing the scope of the
> mandate.

I share your hopefulness. OTOH, I'm not so sure that burying the language
issues in those Software Engineering Review Boards (did anyone look
at the acronym - SERBs?) is such a great idea. Inasmuch as the language
issue will now have much less visibility, it could be speculated that
even in the warfighting area, the so-called "mandate" could be weakened.

This is even more worrisome because the report put such a _weak_
imprimatur on Ada's real technical superiority, _as shown by its
success in warfighting-like domains_. I was quite surprised by the
weak case the report put forward on this, and rather downhearted
at the way everyone ducked my questions on it.

Tony Wasserman's flip "yes, we discovered the AdaBelgium home page"
really denigrated all the Success Stories. Did the committee delve
into the facts behind those stories? Tony's "some of them were not
all that successful" remark really makes me wonder. Are some of
those stories exaggerated? Which ones?

I have an uneasy feeling the committee did not have - or did not take -
the time to go much deeper into Ada's successes than the home page blurbs.
> > Two serious - not sarcastic - questions for Tucker:
> >
> > Do you seriously think the Ada companies - with the possible exception
> > of ACT - will do very much to press the case for Ada in non-warfighting
> > applications?
> Yes, I'm sure they all realize that the growth market for Ada is
> outside the US DoD, and the committee's report certainly hasn't
> changed that.

But are they really committed to Ada's growth? Some of the companies
hide this commitment rather well, at least to judge from _their_
home pages.:-)
> > What do you think the chances are of the Ada industry making much investment
> > in non-warfighting application support, in or out of DoD?
> My presumption is that much of the investment will be in the
> non-warfighting market.  Thomson has always put a lot of attention on the
> commercial market, particularly through their Windows-based products.

I hope that won;t disappear, given

(1) the committee essentially stating that DoD shouldn;t be using
    Ada in that domain (I know, I know, the committee said shouldn;t
    _require_, but we know how that will be taken...) and

(2) the Thomson merger with IDE, whose commitment to Ada has been
    (as far as I can tell) nearly invisible within DoD and entirely
    invisible outside.

    That's the same Tony Wasserman...
> > > > -- David
> > >
> > Mike Feldman
> -Tucker Taft  [log in to unmask]
Mike Feldman (again)