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Team Ada: Ada Programming Language Advocacy


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"Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)" <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 14 Apr 2000 03:38:24 -0400
"Richard L. Conn" <[log in to unmask]>
"Richard L. Conn" <[log in to unmask]>
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Part of the theme that restarted this thread was how technology is advancing
and our world is changing, rather rapidly at that.  An interesting CNET
Dispatch just came out (the overview is below).  I attended the Microsoft
eXtreme event which spoke of the Windows ME (Millennium Edition) beta, the
new Windows Pocket PC (sales to start on April 19), and FrontPage 2000.
One obvious driving force for the programmer and his company is that by
Visual Basic (and keeping up to date with the current version), a migration
path into the newer platforms (such as Windows ME, Windows CE, Windows 2000)
is already in place for them ... the Microsoft Developer's Network Universal
subscription brings new versions and updates to the compilers right along
with the new OSes as they come out, even in beta form, on a monthly basis.

I also subscribe to MIT's Technology Review, and it's interesting to note
their discussions of new technologies coming out of places like Microsoft
long before the general public sees them, even in the MSDN DVDs.  We have
eBooks emerging today (the Pocket PC supports it, and free readers can
download), color displays on sheets of plastic that you can fold and carry
around in your pockets (this one from Microsoft Research in Cambridge).
For the developer, Visual Basic reusable components that tie in to these
technologies are coming out regularly as well.

I like John's mention of VHS and Beta below ... likewise, how many of these
technologies will take off and grow is something no one can predict.

Here's the CNET blurb:

CNET | Digital Dispatch
History of Computing, Windows 2000 Answers, The Best Medical Sites
April 13, 2000
Vol. 6, No. 15

**** Check out our new dispatch for Web builders! See the ad in
this issue for details.****

There's no such thing as a dull week in the tech world. Even as
the technology-heavy Nasdaq continued its free fall, some of the
industry's biggest players stepped up with substantial
innovations. Microsoft started the fun when it released the
third beta of Windows Me, the highly anticipated upgrade to
Windows 98. Not to be outdone, IBM launched a two-pronged
attack, announcing the densest ever massive-capacity notebook
drives, as well as new multiprocessor servers that demand only a
few inches of rack space. Then Sony pitched its plans for cell
phone and PDA domination, revealing the Memory Stick Duo, a
chewing-gum size cartridge that the company is pushing as an
industry standard. Meanwhile, the 1-GHz Intel-based systems,
announced a few weeks back, started shipping. (We got one of the
first models, a Dell Dimension XPS B1000r, and were suitably
impressed.) So, market malaise notwithstanding, there's plenty
of life in the tech sector yet. Just goes to show, you can't
always trust the stock ticker to know where the real action is.

Steve Fox, Editor, CNET Online

Richard Conn
Principal Investigator, Reuse Tapestry

-----Original Message-----
From: Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)
[mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of John McCabe
Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2000 11:56 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: What the competition looks like (resurrected)

>History has shown that is not always technical superiority that wins, but
>marketing and perceptions.

Betamax Vs VHS for example...

>While Java may be mediocre, it is an integrated concept that meets the
>perceived need for portable software solutions and utilizes the existing
>software knowledge base.

True, but you must also look at what the original target audience for Java
It seems to me that Java is getting into markets where its use was never
intended, simply because of the way the language is perceived by e.g.

>Ada meets these same needs, and IMO ups the anti to "Portable, Reliable, &
>Maintainable Software Solutions."

I agree.

>Almost all those who have gotten past the hype and the learning curve and
>Ada at work will agree.

I was originally very sceptical about Ada, until one day I decided to try it
on a noddy program in preference to C. The program worked almost straight
(unlike most of my previous attempts using C), and when I moved it to a DOS
machine from Unix, it required trivial changes to access operating system
features. From that point on it became my favoured language.

>Two areas where I think the Ada community needs to work on are:  increasing
>Ada knowledge base (leveraging on the C & Unix knowledge most programmers
>in school),

That is the crux of the matter! You don't read about Ada in the mainstream
computing press, mainly because it is not used for mass-market applications.
Generally the only time you do hear of it is when e.g. Ariane blows up and
someone blames the Ada code! No one seems to remember the number of
aircraft, trains and so on that rely on Ada, with the lives of thousands of
people every day being taken care of by it! No, all you hear about is Java,
and VB - the things that are used to construct the (mainly unreliable)
applications that people see on their desktop.

As far as I can see, Ada will never get any significant publicity until
Microsoft produces either:

1) An Ada compiler
2) An operating system written in Ada.

>and bringing down the cost of Ada compilers and tools to be competitive
>those intended for the mass market.

Surely this has been partly addressed by ACT in making GNAT available free
charge, and in Aonix providing free versions of ObjectAda, and chargeable
versions of ObjectAda that started to follow the modular structure of e.g.
Visual C++ with standard, professional and enterprise editions?

I think also that one of the problems with the Ada tools available are that,
outside the language defined libraries, much of the support has been
by academics and enthusiasts who make it available free of charge. From a
personal viewpoint I find this very useful and appreciate all the effort
that is
put into it - I only wish I had more time/expertise to be able to help - but
haven't come across many managers who are prepared to risk their programmes
tools where they have no guarantee of support.

>While many argue that Ada's high reliability is "worth" more and those
>interested in these attributes will pay more; this market is IMO too small
>base Ada's future on.

I agree. I have seen managers convinced that Ada is the best solution for
problem, only to drop it as soon as they discover how much professional
cost (apart from the free stuff of course).

>Rather than "bad mouth" Java's mediocrity, Microsoft's unreliability, and
>C/Unix'es cryptic nature, I for one would like to hear everyones ideas on
>stategies for building partnerships with market leaders and leveraging on

So who's going to speak to Microsoft about putting an Ada compiler into
Studio 7/2000?