AdaCore implements new Ada standard - Embedded.com

AdaCore implements new Ada standard

New York—AdaCore has announced the first implementation of the upcoming new version of the Ada programming language. Known as Ada 2005 and anticipated for official international standardization under ISO next year, the new definition advances the state-of-the-art in programming language design while meeting the goal of compatibility with earlier versions of Ada.

“AdaCore is leading the way with Ada 2005,” said Robert Dewar, president of AdaCore. “Many of the new features will make our customers' programming jobs simpler, and the language's integration of object-oriented and concurrency facilities is truly innovative. By officially including the Ravenscar tasking profile, Ada 2005 will help users write portable high-integrity programs. Of course, because of Ada 2005's high degree of upward compatibility, our customers can use our latest development tools not only for the new Ada language version, but also for Ada 95 and Ada 83.”

AdaCore has implemented many of Ada 2005's enhancements, including Java-like interfaces, 32-bit character support, and new standard libraries. These are currently available in the GNAT Pro development environment, as well as in the GNAT edition for the GNAT Academic Program (GAP). Aimed at spreading the use of Ada for teaching and research, GAP is an AdaCore initiative within the academic community. Ada 2005 offers many advantages as a language in computer science education, and the GAP program will make it easier for universities to bring Ada into their curricula. Ada 2005 support is likewise available in AdaCore's GNAT GPL edition, intended for free software developers.

About Ada
Ada is a modern programming language designed for large, long-lived applications—and embedded systems in particular—where reliability and efficiency are essential. It was originally developed in the early 1980s (generally known as Ada 83) and then revised and enhanced in an upward compatible fashion in the mid 1990s under the auspices of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The resulting language, Ada 95, was the first internationally standardized Object-Oriented Language and is currently seeing significant usage worldwide in the high-integrity, high-performance domains, including commercial and military aircraft avionics, air traffic control, railroad systems, and medical devices. Ada also serves as an excellent teaching language for both introductory and advanced computer science courses, and has been the subject of significant university research, particularly in the area of real-time technologies.

About Ada 2005
Ada 2005 offers a number of new capabilities while meeting the requirement of compatibility with Ada 95. Reflecting advances in Object-Oriented technology over the past decade, the language's enhancements include a Java-like interface mechanism and a syntax for inheritance that prevents accidental overloading. The needs of the real-time and high-integrity communities have been addressed; support in these areas include new task control mechanisms and the definition of the Ravenscar tasking profile in the standard. Additionally, Ada 2005 expands the predefined library (including generic “container” packages that improve upon C++'s STL) and makes a number of improvements in the access type area.

About AdaCore
Founded in 1994, AdaCore is the leading provider of commercial, open-source software solutions for Ada, a modern programming language designed for large, long-lived applications where reliability, efficiency, and safety are absolutely critical. AdaCore's flagship product is GNAT Pro, the commercial-grade open-source Ada development environment, which comes with expert online support and is available on more platforms than any other Ada technology. AdaCore has customers worldwide; see www.adacore.com/customers.php for more information.

Use of Ada and GNAT Pro continues to grow in high-integrity and safety-critical applications, including commercial and defense aircraft avionics, air traffic control, railroad systems, financial services, and medical devices. AdaCore has North American headquarters in New York and European headquarters in Paris.

AdaCore , 1-212-620-7300, www.adacore.com

Ada isn't a programming language that jumps to mind when the subject of embedded software is raised. But for safety critical applications, where reliability is a top concern, Ada stands out in the crowd. For this reason, says AdaCore CEO and founder Robert Dewar, “It's the language of choice for many groups doing large scale, safety critical and otherwise high-integrity progamming.” Examples include air traffic control systems “all over the world, except in the United States—where the systems are out of date—many weapons programs, and the Canadian Space Agency.”

And while not all embedded systems are technically safety critical, says Dewar, many that we rely on are sufficiantly critical to consider using Ada instead of C or C++. Automotive applications are one example. “We drive cars everyday and who knows what that software looks like? I think we'd be pretty horrified if we found out.” A lot of automotive software, he says, is typically done in C and without any certification standards. As a result, he warns, “I'm afraid we have problems waiting to happen.” More than one automaker may agree with him: AdaCore is working with several German car companies that, Dewar says, “are seriously looking at upgrading their software procedures and have shown an interest in Ada.”

What makes Ada so reliable is that, as much as possible, programming errors are flagged by the compiler and “finding errors is key to high-reliability programming,” says Dewar. “Because Ada has very strict typing and very strict ways of organizing things, it encourages an an attitude of being very careful about programming.”

That said, AdaCore has rolled out the first upgratde to Ada in 10 years: Ada 2005. Unlike the previous upgrade, which led to Ada 95 and funded by the Department of Defense, Ada 2005 was done entirely by volunteers with some support from companies like Adacore. Improvements include new libraries, a standard for 32-bit characters to cover all languages, and a feature called interfaces, which is based on a concept first introduced with Java and, says Dewar, “is a step forward from C++'s multiple inheritance concept.” The feature allows for multiple library objects that can be used together to build new abstractions, thus promoting reuse. It also provides an interface to Java and C++ programs.

AdaCore is the first and, so far, the only company to offer Ada 2005, which has not been officially blessed by the International Standards Organization. That should happen in a year or so, says Dewar, at which time it will be simply be called Ada. Indeed AdaCore may be the only company that concentrates on Ada to the exclusion of other languages (although the company does joint development projects that include C and C++). Moreover, it is offering the program on an open-source, license free basis, making its money instead on Ada development environments. Annual subscriptions for AdaCore's GNAT PRO development environment, for example, start at $14,000 for a five-user team.

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