Re: Ada design (Daniel J. Salomon)
2 Feb 1996 09:49:11 -0500

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From: (Daniel J. Salomon)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers,comp.lang.ada
Date: 2 Feb 1996 09:49:11 -0500
Organization: Computer Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
References: 96-01-130 96-01-145
Keywords: Ada, syntax

Daniel J. Salomon ( wrote:
: Ada's philosophy seems to be, "When in doubt, forbid it." As a
: result, a programmer can spend a lot of time turning sensible safe
: code into code that religiously observes all of Ada rules.

Tucker Taft <> wrote:
> Have you actually programmed a fair amount in Ada?

Not that much. I did not like coding in Ada. I found it too verbose,
restrictive, and inefficient.

> In my experience with Ada 83, 95% of the complaints by the compiler
> were appropriate complaints about inconsistencies in my code, which
> would definitely be bugs if not caught, and I was happy to put up
> with the 5% of "false positives."

When I was a kid. I discovered that I could walk through the storm
sewers and go underground all around the city that I lived in. When
my parents found out what my brother and I were doing they forbid us
from ever going in the storm sewers again. I obeyed them, but
regretted it ever since, because there were large parts of that maze
that I had not explored yet. Maybe my parents saved my life by their
rule, but I doubt it, because storm sewer drownings are actually
pretty rare, at least in Canada.

Now that I am grown up, I no longer fit in the storm sewers, but I
still enjoy crawling through the "storm sewers" of the C language. If
I were coding medical or transportation system (which C is sometimes
used for...Yipes!) I might think twice about it, but for now I learn a
lot about what programming languages should be able to do by studying
what can be done in C even now, albeit unsafely.

Isn't that what a lot of programming language design is about these
days: trying to find safe and simple ways of doing the things we used
to do all the time but in unsafe ways? I don't think we have arrived
at that goal yet. Ada is really the language of the nineties: forbid
smoking, forbid cholesterol, forbid sex. Maybe its better for me, but
it sure takes the fun out of life.
Daniel J. Salomon -- salomon@cs.UManitoba.CA
              Dept. of Computer Science / University of Manitoba
              Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2 / (204) 474-8687

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