I've been a software developer with Boeing for over 20 years, more than
half of that as an embedded systems developer primarily using Ada.
Where did you get the idea that Boeing was "committed" to Ada? Like
most other companies, Boeing only talks about being "committed" to Ada.
I'm sure that you know the project that I am now on (you taught class at
Tinker AFB for it). I spent more than six months hammering away at
senior programming staff members in Seattle to keep them from writing
our executive in C, "because you cannot write and exec in Ada" (direct
quote). Some of us at Boeing are committed to Ada, but I have a hard
time believing that the company is.
> 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