I didnt know whether to post this or send it to you direct - what the hell,
I beleive in freedom of speech.
Things were looking good for Ada a year ago here in Switzerland, but now it
is turning into a desperate situation for Ada95.
Regarding the SIMIS-IS Swiss Railway project :
It has been under much political pressure of late from internal competition
and more turbulance from extremely poor project management and has sufferred
from bad advice from a senior consultant who tried to force a 1970's style
military regime on top of a potentially good living project. Well it has
finally gone belly up (last friday it died with its boots on), though it was
actually on the cards for some time. Consequently SIMIS-IS'nt.
The main developer was actually Siemens Schweiz Ag, but the parent company
(and competitor) in Braunschweig Germany shall be porting one of their own
C++ projects to cover the market area that was to be targetted by SIMIS-IS.
Unfortunately this looks bad for Ada, although this in reality has nothing
to do with anything other than the fact that they managed in C++ to get more
flashing light bulbs displayed than us (they provided the hardware;-) and a
management who I think felt much more comfortable with C++ as it was their
own background. The original PM who started the Ada project left with his
tail between his legs earlier last year.
There was never a C++/Ada argument here in my mind as they were using
Aonix's C-Smart "lite" which in my mind is like comparing an apple with a
I have been trying to demonstrate that the problems are not with the choice
of implementation until I am blue in the face, I am afraid that they will be
looking for a scapegoat and may blame Ada as being too this or too that. I
would like to say more but feel I may have said too much already !!
Regarding Swiss Banks:
More bad news from Zurich too - the WDR (UBS) banking investement system
will dismantled and strimmed down and then possibly rebuilt using C++ at the
BE and Java at the FE. Most of the Ada expertise there has been laid off or
"gone-java" - but Swiss banks are all very fickle by nature (you think there
is secrecy and politics in defence - try working in a swiss bank) and who
knows, someone could always be removed or another big merger may occur and
there will be a completely different song played.
Regarding Swiss Post Offices:
The Swiss PTT project, although they have a reasonably large (and growing)
group of decent pro-Ada people there for the continued maintainance and
porting of their legacy Ada83 system, I have been told that the plan is to
re-do the whole thing in Java. I naively asked fellow consultants there "why
the whole thing" and the response is "thats what the customer wants" - (I am
sure they dont want to wait minutes for a cash dispenser to dispense cash)
and suggestions like "thats the marketable thing to do" and "what century
are you living in". I personally think they will later have to reconsider
the balance and use Java sparingly, but then again I am a little out of
touch with now as I apparently live in the wrong century ;-)
As far as I can see the only firm still using Ada (Ada83) in earnest here is
ABB AG (for Power Distribution Control) but from what I can see they are
suffering a little too (I can not say from what or I might get sued) - but
they are making a brave effort and have some very capable engineers, the
project managers would be OK but they are suffering from BIG company
But in conclusion I might say that many of the (18 actually) projects I've
seen over here sufferred from a similar disease - "Dodjy Typitus" -
Something caused by the fact that they built their Ada project foundations
using permanent staff that only had a weeks cross training course in the
language (that tought them how to write a "hello-world" program and the
language syntax) - they then return and attempt semantic data modelling or
some kind of design, not understanding the basic building blocks, but keen
to use their newly gained syntactical knowledge - they soon after brought in
consultants after realising that things dont look so good after all - the
consultants then spent their time putting up software scaffolding and trying
to do low impact discrete re-factoring and re-engineering - while any C++
brigade on the fringes can romp home with their Heath Robinson prototype
with flashing bells and whistles wondering what all the fuss is about.
The arguments for and against Ada at the banks (I exclude the Post Office
here) are never usually one of development cost as they throw away cash like
there's no tomorrow. It's not purely academic either, as the managers there
are mostly all Dilbert clones ;-) Shoot me down in flames but I have met
them all. They all simply want, quite naturally, to jump on the e-commerce
band wagon and they feel that Ada doesnt quite cut the mustard there - they
have a point and it is a great pity.
By the way, someone said e-commerce aint life and death - thats very true,
but think on, more e-traders die each day from their trade than jet-pilots
or airline passengers !
Personally, I am off to Ozzie to breed Racing Camels.
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