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AdaWorks <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Tue, 30 May 2000 21:47:10 -0700
TEXT/PLAIN (121 lines)

As always, you provide a thought-provoking reply.

I am not concerned about whether I can or cannot make money
with Ada.  I have done very well with it and could continue
to do so.  That is not the point.  I am not lamenting my own
situation.  Rather, I am lamenting the reality that important
DoD decision-makers have begun to assume that Ada is no longer
relevant.  It has disappeared entirely from the agenda of the
Software Technology Conference.

One major DoD weapons developer for whom we continue to do Ada
training and consulting said to me, [paraphrased] "Ada will
continue to be around for a long time just as Jovial is, but
there us very little incentive for developing new software using
it."  This persons is a senior advisor on a project that was
originally scheduled to be programmed in Ada but will now be done
in C++.  I think it is a bad decision for his company to do this,
but I have no control over them.

I see more and more of this happening.  There are certainly more
intelligent decisions being made in some quarters by software
professionals whose interests are guided more by concerns for
quality than ... well, whatever those concerns are that drive
the decision for C++.

The leadership for Ada has never really been there, I suppose. We
have been through a series of AJPO directors who have been constrained
by political inertia and rendered pretty much ineffective when one
looks at the history of that office.  This is not to say that AJPO
personnel were themselves ineffective people. Some were excellent.
Rather, they were in a position of managing an official function
completely stripped of any kind of power or influence.  They were
consistently outmaneuvered by savvy marketing folks with an economic
agenda rather than an Ada success agenda.

There are several ways we can reinvigorate the interest in Ada through
the larger software community.  One is through some kind of leadership
by someone with enough credibility to make Ada seem a sensible choice.
This could be a corporation committed to Ada such as Boeing, or
through some "killer app" that represents Ada well in the marketplace.

Another approach is to harness the energy of Team-Ada in a campaign
that results in placement of articles, success stories, and other
positive information in the pages of publications that people read.
Already, I am seeing Ada mentioned favorably in more and more books.
Even a recent O'Reilly book on embedded systems mentions Ada favorably
as does Bob Binder's new book on Testing, as does another book on
safety-critical software that is at office and whose author I am
embarrassed to say, I cannot recall at the moment.

Grass roots leadership involves everyone on Team-Ada doing something
positive to publicize Ada in some new context.  One of the reasos
I have taken this teaching post at NPS is the opportunity to rectify
a lot of misconceptions about Ada.  I am actually having more fun than
that, and my original mission is being augmented with a lot of positive
experiences teaching other classes in addition to the Ada classes.  I
am also finding that the students are accepting Ada more willingly
than some others.  It is interesting that those who already know C++
and Java more readily see the benefits of Ada.

When I talk of leadership, I think of the very leadership by Dave
Weller that originated this forum in the first place.  It was a
good start.  Now we need to leverage this audience into a more
coherent campaign, one that is thought-out, agreed-upon, and
workable.  It should be a campaign that opens opportunities to
all of the subscribers to make some little contribution.

Already we have the work of Michael Feldman and others who toil
in the fields, harvesting information that can be turned into
public awareness.  We need someone who can prepare the press
releases that the Ada compiler publishers should be preparing
but aren't.  For example, where is the press release to
Computerworld about the use of Ada in the New York City Transit
System?  It does not exist.

Once upon a time we had Ralph Crafts who, for all of his eccentricities,
worked hard to make things happen.  I wish Ralph were still around.
I, for one, miss him.  At present, there is no one with the energy
and chutzpah to really get the word out.  If anyone is getting the
word out, it is not appearing anyplace that the ordinary person would

So when you ask what I mean by leadership, I answer with the
challenge that leadership makes success in lots of otherwise
dismal enterprises.  Microsoft, with its collection of dimwitted
products survives largely due to the leadership of people such
as Gates and Ballmer.  Who else would have the audacity to sell
software products with the intention of having their millions of
clients do the debugging?

At present we have some successful Ada companies.  A small few
are dedicated to only Ada products.  Most make up for lack of
Ada sales by creating and servicing other products.  You mentioned
Robert Dewar.  He is certainly an example of leadership at the
individual company level.  I don't think he is prepared, at this
point, to take on the mantle of Ada industry leader since his company
is new and striving to create its own niche.  On the other hand, it
might be that this is exactly what is needed :  one really successful
company fully dedicated to Ada and only Ada.

Well, Karl, enough of this rant.  If anyone has made it this far
through my harangue, I apologize for the hyperbole and oversimplification.
Now and then I simply need to react to the idiotic statements I
hear from the DoD officials making pronouncements about Ada.  At
least I am not naming names.  I would not do that.  Even the most
misinformed of these people deserves the benefit of understanding that,
once better informed, their pronouncements will more accurately reflect
what should be happening rather than what is happening.


Richard Riehle
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AdaWorks Software Engineering
6 Sepulveda Circle
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-5536