Wed, 21 Jan 1998 10:30:22 EST
Last evening I attended a lecture on Ada 95 given by Mark Eichin,
as part of MIT's January Independent Activities Program. Most of
these lectures are given by students, but Mark is an alumnus with
eight years experience as a professional developer of large
systems -- in C and C++. The audience consisted of 15 students.
Mark gave the same talk a year ago to an audience of about 30.
Mark referred to the pain, even nightmares, resulting from using
C or C++ to create and grow large, long-lived systems. He heard
about Ada a few years back and looked into it on his own -- making
heavy use of web-based resources. (He lavished praise on the
Adahome site as a good place to begin.)
He said that Ada has a reputation as a dull, military language,
but this is undeserved -- especially now that the 95 version
supports OOP and is more dynamic.
His slides (http://www.mit.edu/people/eichin/ada.html)
summarize Ada syntax, and don't really tell what was, to me,
his main story -- which came in his parenthetical remarks.
He repeatedly commented that Ada syntax, while a bit more
verbose, was clearer to human readers/maintainers and give
compilers an opportunity to provide important services not
provided by compilers in other languages. He said that a large
fraction of things that cause difficulty for C and C++ programmers
just can't happen in Ada.
As far as I could tell, his message was well received -- several
students nodded and chuckled as he mentioned specific problems
with C and C++.
My Concluding Statement: I assume that Ada remains largely
unknown and ignored at MIT, but these talks (last year's and
this year's) constitute one small step in the right direction.
Stage Harbor Software