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From:
Bob Sutton <[log in to unmask]>
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Date:
Thu, 2 Dec 1999 12:54:38 EST
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I have scanned a few of the messages in this thread, and have my own opinions
on the subject, flavored by my limited exposure.

First, the competition, and I consider this to be Microsoft, and their
various visual languages, and perhaps, Imprise/Borland, with Delphi.  I don't
even think about Java.

It has always been predictable that the snowball effect would apply to
computer languages and development.  Things evolve!  It takes a common goal,
time, money, organization, dedication, and hard work to evolve a computer
language to higher levels of capability.  Microsoft has had these elements in
plenty, and they are centralized.  I am not overawed by Microsoft, and have
yet to find one of their products which will not run down a rathole, if it is
pressed hard enough in some aspect.  But they are formidably good! (Or is it
just formidable?)

I rather liked Mike Feldman's reference to the difficulty of "herding a bunch
of cats", referring, I believe, to Freshman students.  From the posts I read,
it is obvious that there is concern among the Ada community, about the
acceptance, adequacy and popularity of Ada.  But I fail to perceive a center
point and a specific common goal, other than for Ada to be more popular.  In
this respect, I view the Ada community, perhaps unfairly, as a "herd of
cats".  There will never be in the Ada community, but a fraction of the
resources that Microsoft can bring to bear on a subject.  Knowing that, a
little equalization must be applied, and this should be a very clearly
defined objective, and very tight focus upon achieving that goal.  There is
great power in coherency.  That is why lasers are dangerous devices.

So, if it desired to make Ada more popular and more contemporary in
capability, then organize and go to work on the challenge.  There are many
very talented people out there.  Work together!  The wire connects us all.

Put my money where my mouth is?  I'm working on it.  I believe in
convergence, and am building, improving, expanding pieces that have a
convergent goal, desktop Ada.  Perhaps the result will never become
mainstream, but if it helps to increase the level of expectation for the
capability of the language, then it is a goal achieved.  Also, it will
provide me a very good level of capability with the language, over which I
will have control, and permit a stable, Microsoft-free environment.

As far as the curricula, and the need to keep students in the classes, I had
never considered this aspect.  I'm an old engineer, and went through "the
mill" before computers became a significant part of life. I'm a
nonprofessional programmer, recently turned to Ada.  So my views are perhaps
not contemporary, and my perspective different.

I have a few Ada texts, Cohen, Skansholm, and Feldman, and I can see that
some of the student problems go right back to the text books.  There is no
suggestion here by me, that creating textbooks is easy, and free of
compromise.  But a problem that I see, is spoon feeding, and presenting
subject as the professor sees the need for it, but not always information as
the student requires it.  Frustrate your student too much, and you will lose
less dedicated ones.  Frustration is like barnacles on a ship's hull. It is
cumulative, and causes the ship to lose speed and efficiency.

Bob Sutton       [log in to unmask]
Western Material Control
Owner, world's oldest (?) PC.

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