After the TRI-Ada'95 Conference, this is my attempt at a summary trip report. Other people said they would also try to write summaries and post them to this list. I had a good time reporting on the Conference and I hope that people got something out of it. The best sessions were undoubtedly the ones I didn't attend, so I appreciate others adding to my comments.
My own personal conclusion at the end of the conference was very positive. This is much better than the ending feeling of some other recent Ada conferences. Final registration was over 600 (more than expected). Terry Doran, Jim Moore, and other members of the committee deserve our thanks and congratulations. Job well done.
On the other hand, I think the current TRI-Ada model needs considerable work. SIGAda is planning the next big conference for the first week of December, 1996, in Philadelphia. Comments and suggestions are welcome.
-- Bob Mathis
Vendor Announcements Intermetrics announced the first Ada95 validation two weeks ago. ACT and SGI validated on the exhibit floor. OC Systems is 98 and 44/100s complete. R&R Software was giving away some free copies of their Ada95 compiler for Windows NT or Windows 95. Tartan announced their SHARK compiler. TLD will be going with GNAT for Ada95. Thomson has teamed with Intermetrics for the production of a student compiler and then professional level products. Rational continues to offer a broad range of products and migrate them to Ada95. DEC is teaming with Rational and ACT for the different Alpha operating systems. DDC-I announced their expectation of validating by the end of 1995. GreenHills was demonstrating their multi-lingual, multi-platform tools. Irvine Compiler is migrating their existing compiler to Ada95. Chuck Engle (head of the AJPO) announced at the closing plenary, that he had received official notice from Microsoft that they have accepted our Ada95-Win32 bindings (developed by Intermetrics, tested by LabTec, accepted by Ada compiler developers in the Windows95 and Windows NT environments) and will be distributing them from the Microsoft server. There were many other vendors. They were offering advanced specialized tools and/or services. I hope that attendees found what they were looking for and I hope that vendors will feel free to post to this list information about their activities, products, and successes. Plenaries At the main opening session, Hal Hart (SIGAda Chairman) presented SIGAda awards to Chuck Engle, Mark Gerhart, Rick Conn, Robert Dewar, Jean Ichbiah, and Tucker Taft. Silicon Graphics provided some advance displays for the opening plenary session (Tuesday). It gave the session a big conference, high-tech feel. John Mashey (Silicon Graphics) gave the opening keynote stressing the trends in technology to larger and faster computing and how this would change programming and human interaction. It was a very nice keynote presentation looking toward the future and opening minds to new approaches. Software innovation will be essential for bridging the gap between more capable hardware and pretty much the same wetware (human beings). E-mail is a very low-bandwidth communication medium and really inadequate to convey the details, or the content, or the feel of this presentation. Sorry, you had to be there. In the Wednesday plenary, Richard Stallman talked about the historical background and philosophy of the Free Software Foundation. "Free" means freely usable and redistributable under the "copy-left" arrangement, not necessarily free of cost. GNU and GCC served as the underlying framework for GNAT. It was an interesting, but rambling talk. GNAT has changed the way people think about the availability of Ada compilers. It was very useful to have Stallman himself describe his philosophy, which he thinks of as a moral position. Robert Dewar, head of the GNAT project, has restated and explained this philosophy frequently in various Ada forums including a local LA SIGAda talk the night before. Stallman expressed a general approval for the changes made in Ada95. He would have made overload resolution less dependent on the context and redefinition of functions on tagged types require a more explicit declaration of intent by the programmer, but he didn't consider these major. At the end of the talk, there was a discussion of potential changes in copyright law which would have a negative effect on free software and other intellectual property. He pointed to an upcoming article in the January issue of Wired. John Barnes gave the Thursday morning plenary address. John was a member of both the Ada83 and Ada95 design teams and author of the best selling Ada textbook. John traced the history of programming languages with some conclusions about good features of Ada and weaknesses of some other languages. Ada provides freedom from errors; this is more important than freedom to do anything you want in a program. Multiple inheritance is the spaghetti of object-oriented inheritance. Four good features of Ada95 -- object-oriented, protected types, child libraries, and flexible access. John summarized his opinion of different programming languages: Smalltalk is flexible and reliable, C++ is flexible and efficient, Ada83 reliable and efficient, but best of all Ada95 has all three (flexible, reliable, and efficient). Peter Coffee, PCWeek, gave the Friday plenary address and talked about an Ada program he had done to exercise the Pentium division bug about a year ago. He also discussed the difficulty others had in translating his program into C. He talked about requirements for high reliable microprocessor software used in non-computer appliances. The fraction of software that goes into desktop applications is very small. Peter has very positive feelings about the usefulness of Ada and concerns about the popularity of C++; but Ada is being mentioned less and less in magazine articles. He mentioned John McCormick's positive experience using Ada in a project course. He encouraged Ada people to be more active in publicizing their successes. Paper Sessions Steve Zeigler's presentation, describing the experience of Verdix (now part of Rational) in developing and maintaining its code base--which is about equally divided between Ada and C code--provides compelling evidence that belongs in the arsenal of every Ada advocate. Steve has been collecting data for a number of years and has analyzed it carefully to discover patterns. Here are some of the most striking results he presented: - Ada code required 4.59 fixes per thousand lines of code, compared with 9.21 for C. - Ada code contained .096 customer-reported defects per thousand lines of code, compared with .676 for C. - Development costs for Ada code were $6.62 per noncomment/nonblank line, compared with $10.52 for C. There were some very good papers and presentations at this conference. I attended a few sessions and reported on them informally. I really want to encourage others (even the authors themselves) to post summaries. The Best Paper award went to "DVM: An Object-Oriented Framework for Building Large Distributed Ada Systems," by Christopher J. Thompson (Hughes Aircraft) and Vincent Cellier (Hughes Canada). The Best Presentation award went to "Ada95 as Implementation Language for Object-Oriented Designs," by Stephane Barbey (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). SIGAda Working Groups The Working Groups are an important part of SIGAda's activities. ASISWG announced its new draft and distributed it on disk (it will be available on their Web page in a couple of weeks). There was discussion about a licensing arrangement to encourage sharing Ada code without losing commercial rights. JAVA and Ada were discussed at a number of sessions. (JAVA does not stand for "Just Another Version of Ada.") Some of the working groups and the executive committee got bogged down in administrative and procedural details. Information about working group activities are available on the SIGAda Web page http://www.acm.org/sigada/. Most of the working groups are reorienting their work toward the different environment of Ada95. Other Information Patrick McDermott (a technical recruiter from Phoenix, AZ) (email@example.com) said he had over 450 job listings for Ada programmers. These are sales openings, permanent programming openings, consulting, and so forth. The word needs to get out that there are Ada jobs out there. The Ada Resource Association is developing a new poster, Ferruccio's "The Vision of Ada." Readers of these notes can request one by sending e-mail with the subject "ARA Poster" to firstname.lastname@example.org (that's Bob Mathis the Executive Director of the ARA). Please send the usual mailing information plus phone, fax, and other relevant contact information. The ARA also has some remaining copies of last year's poster showing a surfer. You can also request one of these via e-mail. Paul Whittington
offered AdaSAGE CD ROMs "to all who E-Mail me with a request to do so. Please include your complete land address. I will put you on a list in as received order. We will mail to list members in order until we run out of CDs so get your order in ASAP." Or you can download any or all of the CD ROM from ftp://sageftp.inel.gov/pub/sage/cdrom002. Ada Policy Summary Chuck Engle was passing out some small cards describing Ada Policy. I've copied the contents here because it's a short summary of what's important. The AdaIC (800-232-4211 or 703-681-2466) has copies if you want one. Why Ada? Why is Ada appropriate? Support for large, complex systems Interoperability and maintainability Software Engineering Modifiable, reliable, portable, easily integrated, etc. Economics DoD core competency, lower lifecycle costs International standard (ANSI, ISO, FIPS) Only internationally-standardized object-oriented language Only language with required validation Promotes reuse, portability Not locked into proprietary vendor Most companies settle on a standard, why not DoD Metrics 60-80% of software costs are in maintenance Ada best in FAA and SEI scores (capability, cost, risk, etc.) Ada leads in MITRE reliability and maintainability comparisons Ada Policies DODD 3405.1 Ada is the preferred common HOL. Based on lifecycle cost, prefer use of : (1) COTS and advanced software technology, when no government modification or maintenance during lifecycle; (2) Ada; (3) DoD-approved standard HOL, if waiver granted. Use Ada for all major upgrades (1/3 or more of lines total). Army extensions: HQDA ltr 25-92-1, 25-95-1 Ada for all modifications of 1/3 or more of functional component. SQL is approved for DBMSs. 4GLs permitted for prototypes, short-term, ad-hoc systems, non-Ada prototype cannot be fielded. Navy extensions: NAVINST5234.2A Ada for modifications of 1/3 or more of computer software configuration item or sub-system specification, within 5 years. Waivers granted only on substantiation of economic analysis. Air Force extensions: SAF/AQK Action memo Distinguishes exceptions/waivers, gives details on each. Exempts individual-use, unique, in-house applications. SAF/AQK Info Memo Interprets term "cost effective" in Congressional Ada mandate All three Services permit baselined ("project-validated") compilers - projects can keep using same compiler throughout lifecycle (after validation certificate expires). Ada Information Clearinghouse 800/232-4211 or 703/681-2466 email@example.com URL http://sw-eng.falls-church.va.us Defense Information Systems Agency, Center for Software Ada, The Language For a Complex World