My first reaction to some of recommendations in the NRC report
tended towards fearful of what would happen to Ada's future
and more importantly what it means to my own future as a developer
of Ada software tools. However after a little reflection I
think the NRC's recommendations aren't all that bad.
I am a firm believer that the Ada programming language has
benefits over most of the other languages widely used (read
C and C++). However I also realize that implementation language
choice really has only a moderate impact on the "bottom line"
of cost and schedule for a large project. Other decisions
on a project easily overwhelm the language decision. We
can all identify successful projects developed in other languages
and disasters developed in Ada. The report summary said,
> In the course of this study, the committee also concluded
> that the currently available data are insufficient, on their
> own, to accurately determine the impact of programming
> language choice on the outcome of defense programs.
> Committee briefings also highlighted the difficulty that
> program managers have in finding data on which they can make
> informed decisions. Based on the limitations of
> availability data, the committee has made an additional
> recommendation that the Defense Department institute a
> corporate effort to collect software metrics to guide future
> policy and management decisions.
This is all too true. It is difficult to determine the impact
of programming language choice on the outcome of a project.
Ada is a superior language in many aspects, but it really
isn't a fix for many of the cost drivers in large projects.
Also I believe that letting Ada fly on her own will ultimately
be stronger for the language. While this increases the risks
involved it also increases the potential. Ada 83 was a
marketing failure as much as anything else. If Ada is to
succeed it must do so on its own merits, and if it is to
fail...well, guess I'll need to find a new job. If we all
believe it can succeed on its own merits then the NRC report
shouldn't worry us.
Thomson Software Products