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"Kester, Rush W." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Kester, Rush W.
Fri, 7 Dec 2001 13:17:44 -0500
text/plain (94 lines)
There has been a great deal of discussion recently regarding
the AdaIC website and its mission.  The funny thing is, I find
myself agreeing with what seem to be opposing points of view.

Robert Lief has told us:
> >I very strongly believe that the Ada community has a unique
> >opportunity to leverage the similarities of XML and Ada
> >semantics into mainstreaming Ada.
> >In the case of the defense community, the best way to
> >maintain and extend the use of Ada is to demonstrate that
> >Ada is the best choice for the development of COTS.
> >Parenthetically, the use of XML could be much more
> >effective in breaking the Microsoft monopoly than the US
> Justice Department.

LJK responded:
> Somebody who wants information on Ada should be able to
> get just that, not a lecture on web design.
> The question should be, what concept in Ada advocacy is
> incapable of being promoted with ordinary HTML/GIF.  Remember
> that some people use browsers that don't handle PNG either.

Earlier [log in to unmask] asked IMO rhetorically:
> What is the mission?  To increase awareness of Ada?
> Or to impress people with the latest browser and
> alienate everyone else?

I think the AdaIC (and ARA) have a mission to show that
Ada is "alive and well" and at the "forefront" of today's
technologies (e.g., XML, Java Virtual Machine, Gtk).

However, I also agree that these websites should be viewable
by the broadest possible audience.  There are many potential
Ada users who for a variety of reasons: security, anti-Microsoft
monopoly feelings, pro-open standards feelings, etc. use more
primitive browsers than those currently available and marketed.

Because I maintain websites for several non-profit groups, I
I have developed a habit of having several browsers in order
to checkout the appearance of my pages to the broad audience
I hope visit's them.

I have learned from painful experiences, (e.g., infinite
pop-up windows thanks to JavaScript amatures, unsolicited
emails thanks to "cookies" and integrated email address
information, system hangs & crashes thanks to MicroSoft's
and Sun's Java wars) to disable some features when visiting
new sites even with "state of the art" browsers like IE5 and
Netscape 4.75.

My recommendation for the majority of the AdaIC and ARA website
content is to stick to the "lowest common denominator" HTML.  Avoid
the use of features like cookies, JavaScript, Java, Frames, XML,
etc. that make the content useless to some visitors.

However, "special" areas of the website should be created to
highlight more advanced or "cutting edge" technologies, like those
mentioned above.

IMO, the priorities for the AdaIC/ARA website should be:
  1. provide content to the broadest possible audience
     i.e., the lowest common denominator HTML,
  2. provide the security and reliability that is promoted
     in the Ada community, and
  3. showcase "cutting edge" technologies, (see above)

If using the Ada Web Server software can do it all, then the
AdaIC/ARA website should use it.  "Ada Inside" is a great message.
For the "special" technology showcase areas that might jeopardize the
AdaIC/ARA sites, I recommend using other Team-Ada sites, less "officially"
tied to Ada, to advertise and promote their availability.

The AdaIC and ARA could then include links to them.  Perhaps
with a warning as on  The nice thing
about the web is that we can all refer to each other as the friends
we are.  Only Team-Ada will know the heated discussions we have
among ourselves.

IMHO, the above outlines a way we can have our cake and eat it too!  :-)

Rush Kester (speaking for myself)
charter member Team-Ada

Software Systems Engineer
AdaSoft at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.
email:  [log in to unmask]
phone: (240) 228-3030 (live M-F 9:30am-4:30pm, voicemail anytime)
fax:   (240) 228-6779