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Tucker Taft <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Tucker Taft <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 3 Dec 1999 10:10:03 -0500
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Roger Racine wrote:
> ...
> This whole discussion does not say much for us Ada advocates.  It is very
> difficult to sell Ada when the keeper of the Ada repository truly believes
> it is not the right language to teach, because the tools are not up to his
> standards.

I think you are missing the point.  You can believe Ada is ideal for
building safety-critical software, but believe it is not the best
language for other things (e.g. teaching introductory computer science).
Of course, you (and I) might disagree with Richard about
where Ada is useful, but that does not mean that
Richard Conn is not devoted to promoting Ada in the areas
where he believes it is useful, and not where he does not believe it is
the best solution.  Ada was definitely hurt in the past by being pushed
in areas where it was inappropriate.  We can all try to use it whereever
we want to, but to push it on others, you need to be very sure of what
you are doing.  In fact, I personally believe Ada is excellent for
teaching introductory computer science, but I also agree that students
really respond to graphics.  In any case, this seems like a cheap shot.

> Not only that, but it is difficult to argue that Ada is the most portable
> language, since an easy comeback is "What language is used for the
> compiler?".  The Intermetrics front end is in C.  The GNAT back end is in
> C.  "Why?"  Portability.

This is misinformed.  The GNAT back end was written long before Ada 95
existed, by people with no knowledge or interest in Ada.
The AverStar Ada front end was written in C before there was an
Ada 95 compiler, and was intended to be licensed to compiler companies
whose existing technology was based on C or Pascal.  Now that we
have our own Ada 95 to C technology, we have begun to write major
new modules (e.g. our front end optimizer) in Ada, and then deliver
the generated C sources to our licensees.

> I went to the SIGAda conference, and happened to notice that there was a
> Java tutorial!  Does anyone think that an Ada tutorial would be accepted at
> a Java conference?

The tutorial was clearly oriented toward helping Ada programmers
learn an important new technology.  Even if you want to continue
to write in Ada, you need to know about other important technologies
with which you may need to interface.
> This is a great discussion, and I hope products (like Claw, a copy of which
> I hope is being provided to Rick) can be created (like Claw, written in
> Ada) to eventually make Rick (and the many, many others who share his
> opinion of Ada tools) change his (their) mind.

We live in a multi-lingual world, both on the human side and on
the programming side.  Being a total Ada purist is not helpful in
a world like this.  It is important to learn other technologies, and
to use them and/or steal good ideas from them when appropriate.  Burying
ourselves in an Ada-only sandbox is not the best way to succeed, IMHO.

> Roger Racine

-Tucker Taft   [log in to unmask]
Technical Director, Distributed IT Solutions  (
AverStar (formerly Intermetrics, Inc.)   Burlington, MA  USA