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From:
John McCabe <[log in to unmask]>
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Date:
Thu, 13 Apr 2000 15:55:40 +0000
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>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 was.
It seems to me that Java is getting into markets where its use was never really
intended, simply because of the way the language is perceived by e.g.
management.

>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 seen
>Ada at work will agree.

I was originally very sceptical about Ada, until one day I decided to try it out
on a noddy program in preference to C. The program worked almost straight away
(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 the
>Ada knowledge base (leveraging on the C & Unix knowledge most programmers got
>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 satellites,
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, C++
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 with
>those intended for the mass market.

Surely this has been partly addressed by ACT in making GNAT available free of
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 developed
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 I
haven't come across many managers who are prepared to risk their programmes on
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 to
>base Ada's future on.

I agree. I have seen managers convinced that Ada is the best solution for their
problem, only to drop it as soon as they discover how much professional tools
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 their
>success.

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

John

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