Whatever happened to Ada?
- By Jack Vaughan
As the number of available Ada developers continues to dwindle, the language
is staging something of a small comeback, according to software industry
On the wings of government dictates to standardize software, Ada became a
highly touted language in the 1980s. The trouble was that the only people who
used it heavily were in the military. Ada became a robust real-time language and
runtime, but it never quite caught on, and when the U.S. military decided it was
no longer a requirement for those who bid on tank and fighter programs, its days
Ada is not mandated on the government's Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project,
but its use there is prevalent. ''People thought C++ or something else would
replace it,'' said Chris Lanfear, group manager at industry analyst Venture
Development Corp., Natick, Mass., ''People are hoping to reuse a lot of code
originally written for the F-22 [fighter], most of which is in Ada.''
Lanfear said Ada took its big market hit a few years ago, and has been
steadily, if not dramatically, rising. Meanwhile, he said, fewer ADA-trained
developers means tool makers have a worthwhile niche in which to launch
VDC estimates that the market for embedded ADA tools and services was $47.7
million in 2001. ''We see it as flat to slightly growing,'' said Lanfear.
Vendors respond to customer needs as Ada continues to be used. At the
Embedded Systems conference (November 18-20) in Boston, I-Logix, Andover, Mass.,
introduced Rhapsody 4.1, a version of its UML visual development platform that
includes an Ada Developer edition supporting Ada 83 and Ada 95.
Also at the Embedded Systems Conference, Aonix, Boulder, Colo., announced
ObjectAda for Linux, which opens up the important new Linux program to the Ada
VDC sets the size of that community at between 8,000 and 10,000 developers as
Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.