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"Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)" <[log in to unmask]>
Ken Garlington <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 15 Nov 1996 16:48:07 +0000
Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems
Ken Garlington <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (57 lines)
Michael Feldman wrote:
> Why not get to
> work defining what _you_ believe to be the right part A/part H definition,
> try to produce a compiler, or at least a path to one, and worry about
> validation later?

What if having a _validated_ Ada subset compiler gives you a competitive advantage
over C?

We seem to have a lot of these "chicken-and-egg" situations. For example:

1. Users don't use Ada for tiny processors because there's no Ada implementation for
   their processor. So, they use assembly or C.

2. There's no Ada implementation because no vendor has built one.

3. No vendor has built one because (opinions vary among the following):

   (a) There's no market for it (see 1 above).

   (b) It is technically difficult to implement full Ada on these processors.

       (i)  No one has implemented a subset compiler, because there's no definition
            of the subset
       (ii) There's no definition of the subset, because there's no market to drive
            a subset (see 1 above).

   (c) Ada (even a subset) doesn't "make sense" for small processors (I don't buy
       this, but I could be wrong).

   (d) All of the above.

My personal belief is that the best way to fix this is at point 2. Someone needs
to build an implementation for a few popular tiny processors (possibly as a subset),
market it,  and see if anyone buys it. You can do this as a business venture,
of course (it's called "creating a market"), but I don't see any Ada vendor who
wants to create this market badly enough. So, it will be more likely that someone
will do this just for the challenge of seeing if it can be done. This has a low
probability of success, but it seems to be the only way.

> C compilers are not (in general) validated, and C++
> ones are certainly not, because there is no standard to validate against.

Tom Peters calls this the "We're no worse than anyone else" problem. To break
into a new market, you need powerful competitive advantages. It's often smarter
to do things _because_ your competitors aren't doing them -- like having an
independent organization (e.g. NIST) make a statement about the quality of your
compiler, and/or working to a widely-accepted and formally controlled (if not
internationally standardized) specification of your product, and/or having the
support of a large group that "gets out the word" on a new project. For this
project (an Ada subset compiler for tiny processors), I would say we're 0 for 3.

LMTAS - "Our Brand Means Quality"
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