Richard L. Conn wrote about the investment Microsoft has made in
Internet and WWW software, the power this gives their development tools,
and that therefore the Ada community should concentrate on other areas,
such as real-time and high-reliability.
I disagree with Richard's conclusions, and I don't really see the
relevance of his arguments.
What he did with Visual Basic could have been done, in the same amount
of time, using almost any language, given the same components to play
Indeed, surely most of the readers of this list will have had the
experience, once or twice, of writing an Ada program (which really just
glues together a set of already written and debugged big subsystems) in
ten minutes, and being momentarily awestruck to find it work perfectly,
and powerfully, straight away. Ada can, occasionally, be that kind of
language, more than Visual Basic ever will.
Would an HTTP server written in Ada be competing with Microsoft? I don't
think this is what anyone was suggesting. There must surely be certain
niche markets, requiring the combination of Ada and a web server, which
are too small to concern the likes of Microsoft, but which could,
nevertheless, be valuable markets. Even if some 'markets' are not
commercial, they could represent excellent opportunities for the
promotion of Ada.
I have been envisioning this application domain as being a potential
'seller' for my [ex-]pet project, the AdaOS. I plan to develop, in Ada:
a TCP/IP 'stack level'; an FTP server (daemon); an HTTP server; other
'RFC' servers (there are dozens). I don't anticipate these being
tremendously difficult to write (detail should not be confused with
difficulty), and Ada is the perfect language for this kind of software.
If anyone is contemplating developing this kind of software in Ada on a
non-commercial basis, please contact me: we may be able to co-ordinate
efforts, to a certain extent. Be aware of the timescale of our project -
support for the application levels will be three to five years away -
but this need be no obstacle to (pre-)development on an existing OS.
Always call for the professionals. (If they don't help, call for me ;-)