From: Bob Leif, Ph.D.
To: Stanley Allen et al.
Subject: Expediting the Commercial Use of Ada
I have included my write up for the SigAda Workshop on How to Expedite the
Commercial Use of Ada, which I chair. Although I enjoy working with Ada, I
do not believe in giving away the fruit of my or your labors. If you are at
SigAda 98 and are interested in how to profit by using Ada and how to
increase the use of Ada please come to the Workshop. If you are not
attending SigAda and are in the Washington DC area, please check the rules
I must add that besides the benefit of my Ada friends making money, the
Commercial World is to a large extent covered by "monkey sees monkey do".
The best way to promote Ada is to make a large profit by creating money
making commercial products. Ten or more very rich Ada millionaires will be
an argument that will be heard and accepted by the software developer
Robert C. Leif, Ada_Med, a Division of Newport Instruments
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Two critical factors required for the commercial success of a technology are
1) the technology must have some inherent utility and 2) there must be a
strong economic benefit connected with its adaptation. The relative
commercial failure of Ada obviously is not the result of a lack of utility.
If utility were the only criterion, there would be no need for this essay.
However, economic benefit can easily overshadow utility.
There is no question that Sun has done an excellent job marketing Java with
the result that there is a very substantial library of Java components.
(Fortunately, these and those developed in other languages can be interfaced
to Ada.) Unfortunately, the quality of marketing does not have any direct
relation to the quality of the resulting libraries or large benefit to the
users who actually create software. Sun's costly advertisements in the Wall
Street Journal may provide management with the belief that their software
problems have been solved; unfortunately, it does not provide the technology
for the software engineers to produce an efficient reliable, portable
The problem to be solved is creating economic motivation for the use of Ada
and concomitant good software engineering practices. The quality of the
design of a programming language and of the available compilers, although of
significance, is often of less significance than the quality of the
programming environments and libraries. If a library does not exist then it
can not win on quality. Therefore, the question is how to provide a strong
economic incentive for the creation and use of Ada libraries.
There are several alternatives:
1) Altruism. The creator of the library sees his or her work included in
many programs and receives much acclaim and honor from his or her peers.
There are very few examples of this occurring with real products and the
measure of success based on their conversion into commercial products. It
should be noted that many creative individuals are responsible for others.
They have spouses or significant others and children or other relatives who
are either dependants or who share support responsibilities. These other
individuals can not be expected to look favorably on one spending large
amounts of time on what is essentially a hobby. However, they can be
expected to be supportive of a venture with real potential to increase their
standard of living.
The argument that the compensation for software can be based upon payments
for support ironically has a significant flaw for Ada products. One of the
great virtues of Ada source text is that usually is readable. Both the Ada
language and culture enforce this. Thus often, a user will be able do their
own maintenance and make fixes or create enhancements.
2) Quick Buck: This approach is based on selling a limited number of copies
at an exorbitant price. Defense contractors even have the advantage of being
paid prior to delivery and limiting their production to items that are
funded by the purchaser. William Gates has stated that mass marketing is the
correct approach. His obvious commercial success proves that he is correct.
3) The Developer as a Capitalist: Treating software development as capital
creation as opposed to a service does not have the inherent problems of the
above two alternatives. This requires keeping the initial cost of the
libraries low in return for future royalties to be derived from their actual
use in commercial products. A developer by licensing Ada packages would be
contributing capital to the organization that creates a product. This would
result in minimizing the development costs of new Ada products. It also has
the very interesting property that the financial interest of the original
developer in the reuse of that software provides a strong motivation to help
the user. This is a major benefit compared to the present situation for
unsupported (nonpaying) users of "Free" Software.
The major problem with this approach is determining the contribution of each
software suppler to the final project. This measurement and the
determination of the pricing of components should be objective and automated
in order to avoid legal and accounting expenses.
Fortunately Ada already provides a unique solution, which is presently
unavailable in other languages. A tool based on the Ada Semantic Interface
Specification, ASIS, can be created to measure the number of Function Points
present in the final linked program that were provided by each package.
Function points are a reasonable solution. The use of the other alternative,
counting semicolons from lines which are not totally comments, is completely
inappropriate for Ada. The inclusion of reusable structures based on object
oriented class-wide programming and Ada's an excellent facility for generics
renders obsolete simple linear measurements, such as the aforementioned
counting of semicolons. Although the Ada package structure is excellent for
creating and organizing libraries for re-use, it can result in the user
being forced to acquire a libraries which contain a very significant amount
of extraneous material. Basing payment on the actual amount of software
used, is the equitable solution to the pricing of the fractional use of
The term source text will be used instead of the more common source code.
This discussion is totally irrelevant to software artifacts that require
cryptography skills to interpret. The subject of providing the source text
of the packages was not directly discussed in the above discussion, since,
it is not materially relevant. Of greater significance, the availability of
source has significant advantages to both the seller (producer) and customer
(user). Since the benefits to the user are well known, this discussion will
be limited to the benefits to the seller.
1) With Ada, customarily, the user already has the specifications, which
often include the private section. This information provides significant
insight into the design and organization of the packages.
2) Part of the vendor's responsibility for usability is transferred to the
3) The customer will often review the packages, which will often result in a
request for an explanation of part of the source, discovery of errors and
suggestion of how to fix the problem, or better yet, supplies a patch to
fixe the problem.
4) When the compiler vendors change library formats, the package vendor will
not have to recompile their packages. Most Ada packages in source can be
used by any Ada compiler that includes annexes which were used in the
5) The difficulties of managing compiled Ada '83 libraries was one of the
main sources of the negative image of Ada.
6) Source is relatively compact compared with libraries and can be shipped
via the internet.
One argument against providing source was that it facilitated software
piracy. One very simple counter argument is that there are many successful
industries that do provide source. These include: book publishing, video
tape, CD-ROM, and music publishing. One other argument is the well known
fact that some piracy may actually benefit the vendor. Firstly, the pirated
version serves as a demo product. Secondly, once the customer uses a
product, some level of interaction with the vendor is often required. One
obvious benefit to the customer of purchasing software is to inform the
vendor that the customer is a user and thus, should be informed of bugs and
updates, etc. In fact, there is a symbiosis between the customer and the
vendor. The customer has a vested interest in the vendor staying in
No Future: The prevailing view in the software community and even in the Ada
community is, the war is over and Microsoft has won on both the operating
system and applications. Actually, Microsoft has several significant
disadvantages, in spite of the obvious capabilities of its management.
Firstly, it is a very large organization. My past experience has convinced
me that the COCOMO coefficients for projects developed at large
organizations are very large. In spite of the highly touted virtues of
creating object oriented software applications in C++. Microsoft Office
does not appear to have been assembled from common parts. Word does not
inherit its tables from Excel, etc. The use of floating point numbers to
represent money, at present, has no justification. Fortunately, for
Microsoft and one of the major reasons for its dominant position is the
sheer technical and commercial incompetence of its competitors.
No one has tested the market with reliable, efficient extensible, software.
Dear reader you can determine the accuracy of this statement by visiting
your nearby computer software store. The only extensively reused item is
the operating system. The other standard applications are all stand-alone.
They are not based on Microsoft Office applications. Certainly, many DLLs
(ActivX components) are shared. However, considering the number of copies
sold, the number of add-ins or derivative applications is surprisingly
In short there is money to be made with commercial, quality products written
in Ada . The long term viability of the present commercial software culture
which sells "upgrades" rather than having recalls is infuriating. The
inherent confusion of the source language C or its derivatives shows
through. Most of the present products are unreliable, inefficient and
awkward to use. The two key definitions are user hostile and artificial
stupidity. During the nineteen fifties, the Japanese automobile and
electronics manufacturers followed the teachings of Total Quality with
devastating effects. Ada provides software entrepreneurs with a similar
From: Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95) [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Stanley Allen
Sent: Thursday, August 06, 1998 11:55 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Booch Components
David Weller wrote:
> Working in Ada, anymore, can only be construed as a labor of love :-)
When I read this, I decided that I should begin
working in at Taco Bell to supplement the subsistence
pay I am getting at my Ada job. Of course I'll stick
to doing Ada forever, even as my salary dwindles *below*
minimum wage. (When customers are impressed with
some of my SLOCs, they throw a few coins in my cup.)
You know us starving-artist types. When the well finally
runs dry where I am now, I suppose I'll have to take up
an itinerant life-style, packing my portable, going from
town to town working odd jobs by day and devoting my
nights to the lost cause.
But I'm tough. A survivor. I know I'll make it
through this winter ... somehow.
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