AdaIC News Spring/Summer 1996

Ada 95 Resources

Ada 95 Compilers and Tools:
Resources Growing to Meet Areas of Need

| Responding to Market Needs |
| Supporting the Most Users As Soon As Possible |
| The User's Role |

It has now been a year since the Ada 95 standard was published by the International Standardization Organization (ISO). As of Mar. 1, 14 compilers had officially passed validation testing under version 2.0 of the Ada Compiler Validation Capability (ACVC 2.0).

Support tools are also important. Each of the new compilers comes with its own set of tools, and independent tool vendors have upgrading their products to Ada 95.

Responding to Market Needs

Strictly speaking, compiler validation is necessary only for producing the executable code that will be fielded in a DoD project. For those of you doing work on your own, or preliminary work prior to producing fielded code, there's always been the freely available GNU Ada 95 Translator (the GNAT compiler) and it has been ported to several platforms. Also, the Public Ada Library includes the AVLAda9X Ada 95 compiler for MS-DOS and Windows NT. (The Ada Information Clearinghouse -- 800/232-4211 -- can give you information on obtaining these compilers.)

Final compilation on a DoD project, however, requires a validated compiler. And commercial ventures will feel a lot more comfortable using validated compilers. Validations, therefore, have reflected market needs. The first compiler was Intermetrics' AdaMagic for an important DoD target: a Raytheon processor used in the Patriot missile system. The next three were versions of GNAT for a major graphics vendor: Ada Core Technologies' compiler targeted to machines from Silicon Graphics, Inc.; they were followed by support for the current leader in the personal-computer marketplace, as Thomson Software Products validated two for the Pentium processor -- one for Windows 95, one for Windows NT. Then OC Systems validated two for the IBM RS/6000.

These were followed by six validations by Rational Software for hardware from five major vendors (Digital Equipment Corp.'s DEC 3000, Hewlett-Packard's HP 9000, the SGI Iris Indigo R4000, the IBM RS/6000, and two for the Sun SPARC).

Independent tool vendors have similarly been responding to user needs and opportunities. (See, for instance, "Automatic 83-to-95 translation", Spring 1995, p. 8.)

And just as GNAT and AVLAda9X are freely available and supported heavily by volunteer work, there are comparable tool efforts. By the time you read this, an initial release of an Ada 95 upgrade for the popular Booch Components should be available over the Internet from David Weller.

Supporting the Most Users As Soon As Possible

The pattern of Ada 95 support is following the hopes of the Ada Joint Program Office (AJPO). As reported last year, the AJPO concluded that it was most important for the major platforms to get validated support as early as possible. Having validated Ada 95 compilers available gives projects the greatest flexibility in transitioning.

(Ada 83 validation testing stops Mar. 31, 1997; Ada 83 validation certificates expire a year later. Projects underway may continue with a previously validated compiler for the project's duration.)

No one expects growth to be instantaneous. Presently, there are nearly 900 validated compilers for Ada 83, and many platforms have a number of competing vendors. The market cannot replicate that level of support overnight.

(The last time there was a significant change in the validation process was in December 1990 when ACVC 1.10 expired, and validation required passing of ACVC 1.11. December 1989 had seen 292 compilers, but while compiler vendors were changing gears, the list of validated compilers dropped to 82. By the end of 1991, the list had rebounded to 342, erasing the apparent loss and continuing the previous several years' record of compiler growth.)

The four vendors who have already validated compilers are at the leading edge of retooling of Ada support. Much work began before Ada 95 was published as an International Standard. More vendors are expected to be coming on-line. Among vendors that have announced their intentions to validate for Ada 95 are: DDC-I; R.R. Software, Inc.; Sun Microsystems, Inc.; Tartan, Inc.; Green Hills; and Unisys Corp.

The User's Role

Vendors supporting multiple platforms must choose which one to support first, which compilers are better developed jointly, etc. So, input from users is vital. People frequently call the Ada Information Clearinghouse and mention that they are looking for an Ada 95 compiler for a platform as yet unsupported; the AdaIC is now keeping track of the platforms mentioned. You may wish to contact us or your vendor with your requirements.

You can obtain the current list of validated compilers at the AdaIC Web site (

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