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Ada '83 Quality and Style:

Guidelines for Professional Programmers

Copyright 1989, 1991,1992 Software Productivity Consortium, Inc., Herndon, Virginia.

CHAPTER 1: Introduction

1.1 How To Use This Book

There are a number of ways in which this book can be used: as a reference on good Ada style; as a comprehensive list of guidelines which will contribute to better Ada programs; or as a reference work to consult about using specific features of the language. The book contains many guidelines, some of which are quite complex. Learning them all at the same time should not be necessary; it is unlikely that you will be using all the features of the language at once. However, it is recommended that all programmers (and, where possible, other Ada project staff) make an effort to read and understand Chapters 2, 3, and 4 and Chapter 5 up to Section 5.7. Some of the material is quite difficult (for example, Section 4.2 which discusses visibility), but it covers issues which are fundamental to the effective use of Ada and is important for any software professional involved in building Ada systems.

The remainder of the book covers relatively specific issues. Exceptions and erroneous execution is covered at the end of Chapter 5; and tasking, portability, and reuse is covered in Chapters 6, 7, and 8 respectively. You should be aware of the content of this part of the book. You may be required to follow the guidelines presented in it, but you could defer more detailed study until needed. Meanwhile, it can serve as useful reference material about specific Ada features; for example, the discussion of floating point numbers in the chapter on portability.

This book is not intended as an introductory text on Ada or as a complete manual of the Ada language. It is assumed that you already know the syntax of Ada and have a rudimentary understanding of the semantics. With such a background, you should find the guidelines useful, informative, and often enlightening.

If you are learning Ada you should equip yourself with a comprehensive introduction to the language such as Barnes (1989) or Cohen (1986). The Ada Language Reference Manual (Department of Defense 1983) should be regarded as a crucial companion to this book. The majority of guidelines reference the sections of the Ada Language Reference Manual that define the language features being discussed. Appendix A cross references sections of the Ada Language Reference Manual to the guidelines. [NOTE: Cross references from Appendix A of the original Style Guide appear as sets of live HTML links at the end of applicable subsections in this HTML version of the Style Guide and in the companion HTML version of the '83 Language Reference Manual.]

Throughout the book, references are given to other sources of information about Ada style and other Ada issues. The references are listed at the end of the book, followed by a bibliography which includes them and other relevant sources consulted during the book's preparation.

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