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"Richard L. Conn" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Richard L. Conn
Sat, 11 Sep 1999 16:15:33 -0400
text/plain (148 lines)
Hi, Bob,

Responses below.

Richard Conn, ASE and PAL Manager

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Robert C. Leif [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Friday, September 10, 1999 11:22 PM
> To: Richard L. Conn; [log in to unmask]
> Subject: How to provide Ada with the best possible GUI. was RE: Two
> interesting approaches to job hunting and more
> From: Bob Leif
> To: Richard Conn et al.
> I suspect that you are correct that it is easier to create
> screens in Visual
> Basic than Ada. I believe that this has much more to do with the
> environment
> than the programming languages.

Yes, I agree.  The thing is, with VB, the GUI is a PART of the language.
You don't separate them.

> Last year, I proposed what I thought to be a simple solution, use XML or
> HTML, which can now be extended to XHTML. That is HTML which is consistent
> with being an XML application. There is only one problem with
> this approach.
> Present browsers are designed for a client-server environment, rather than
> being totally hosted on the client. The technical question is, what is the
> simplest way to have an Ada program directly interact with a browser? Both
> the program and the browser are located on the same CPU and using the same
> peripherals and operating system.

Personal web servers allow for single-machine execution using the
paradigm employed by the web.  You can set up a Common Gateway Interface
on your own PC (I think someone else mentioned that in the recent set of
There is already a CGI package in the ASE library.

I've completed a CMM Level 4 data collection system at Lockheed that is
employing a web server and multiple data servers driven by a variety of
on the client side.  Ada fits into this model beautifully.  The data servers
easily be written in Ada, and the graphics and forms of the web pages give
an extremely professional-looking GUI with the Ada-based data servers
underneath.  Not unlike the concept I spoke of with a VB GUI and Ada engines
underneath.  Also, you can do the web pages using simple HTML 3 (which
forms), and they are extremely platform-independent and portable.  That was
a requirement of the user interface for the data collection system ... it
had to
run on all of our platforms (Macs, Suns, HPs, Windows, ...).  It does, and
it took
two days to develop the initial prototype (complete with the data server
Of course, this was NOT a "Hello world" program ;-)

> At SIGAda '98, I strongly suggested that the Ada community be
> represented on
> the World Wide Web Consortium. Presumably, the appropriate organization
> would be the ARA. I still believe that the best way to achieve penetration
> of the commercial market by Ada is through the use of Web technology and
> standards. For instance, there are many HTML application builders that can
> compete with Visual BASIC. Many embedded systems can be based on
> simple HTML
> forms. They are certainly sufficient for my own applications. All
> we need is
> a simple way to use this technology.

Certainly, it does not hurt, but in my experience (above), Ada technology
web technology blend beautifully.  Web-based GUIs driven by Ada engines can
be easily and quickly built (if you know what you are doing ... the
is not for the faint of heart).

> Parenthetically, the use of Web technology for client based
> applications is
> a very simple and straight forward way to both build portable applications
> and break Microsoft's control of the market. Amusingly, and to its credit,
> Microsoft is making its own products do exactly what I suggested. Word,
> Excel, etc files can be saved and operated on in HTML format.

Yep ... but in Office 2000, Microsoft is using XML (what it calls "The Next

> In short, let us develop Ada technology based on Web standards.

Not hard to do.  We already have the CGI in the ASE.  About the only thing I
add is a few design patterns I found useful in developing the CMM Level 4
collection system for Lockheed.  Those patterns are quite simple to do.
They mainly involve handling name=value pairs in the W3C's enctype format.

> 1. R. C. Leif, “SIGAda ‘98, Workshop: How do We Expedite the
> Commercial Use
> of Ada?.” Ada letters XIX, No 1 pp. 28-39 (1999).
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Richard L. Conn
> Sent: Friday, September 10, 1999 5:03 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Two interesting approaches to job hunting and more
> Hi, Everyone,
> Big SNIP
>  And Visual Basic is a LOT easier ... my students all ran
> their first GUI-oriented programs with various degrees of bells
> and whistles
> after 1.5 hours of instruction and 1.5 hours of lab.  At this
> point, I can't
> feed them new ideas fast enough.
> Right now, a number of our Ada people are taking courses in Visual Basic
> (for certification).  Even on the next ASE CDROM, I have an example of an
> Ada engine (command-line oriented) running under a Visual Basic
> (GUI-oriented)
> front-end.  So far, the Ada people are not leaving (airplanes are too much
> fun),
> but time will tell.  So far, the blend of the two is a good thing.
> Just some comments.
> Rick
> ----------------------------------
> Richard Conn, ASE and PAL Manager