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Starting Ada - It has to work

By: Tom
18 February 2023 at 19:13

When you buy a new car you just get in and drive. When you try to set up to program in Ada this doesn’t happen. A am now 2 years in using GNAT Studio, I have 20,000 lines of code to my name so I have persisted and I was not put of by the faults in the compiler which suggest that the concept of Total Quality Management may not be at the heart of Ada. True its better than C or C++ and I spent a lot less time chasing bugs the compiler should have told me about. So over all I like it. At first glance it appears more readable than Rust and it doesn’t get too excited about OO either which really holds back beginners. I need a language I can train people on and not have them crash the code base.

There is some very good material out there supporting Ada and a lot from Ada Core but still trying to get a novice to install the IDE and take their first steps, is a mess. Such a mess that I created www.adaworks.it to try to help others through that mess. Its not that I wanted to start providing Ada services but I usually keep notes by creating websites. I hope the installation help given there is an improvement given that I did it for free and I would rather Ada Core had done it.

Well in the last day I attempted to put GNAT Studio on Fedora 37 and it won’t link libc properly so gives up. I like writing code, not fixing operating systems! Then I learn about this thing Alire and download it, the version for Linux. I get a Zip file with a directory bin and in it a file air of 30.9 MB. Great. So then I click on “Get Started” and rather than “How to install what you just downloaded I get “Why Ada?” Do you know what? If I just downloaded something to use Ada I probably have already made that choice. I look desperately for some instructions and give up. Join this forum. Write this post down to here and then…Ah Oh if I click next at the bottom of the page what will that do? Oh “Hello World” well if I had an IDE running that would be a possibility but eventually I decide to take a look. Oh I read a bit " If you haven’t set it up, you can follow the instructions on the Alire site” What I had to get to page 2 to find this hopeful link. Lets try it. Ah “Installation” I can download the latest release from the GitHub repository. But I thought I just downloaded it. I just want to install it. Oh no:
it says. Well I don’t know where I should extract it? Is it important where I extract it? What do I care about toolchains I just want a working IDE so I can carry on programming. I hate toolchains I don’t care how it works I just want to write code and get out working executables. If this was an instruction manual well… So how do we get past this sloppy way of working…I guess I just have to spend the next few days guessing my way through this or alternatively give up programming in ada to sit and learn all about linux OS from the ground up. At what level is there a nice clean user interface I can work with. This is real “Glass box” approaches. Here is your new car but before you start it you just need to put on the wheels to some unspecified place. I want to do better than this Ada deserves it. How do we expect to bring people onboard with Ada and talk about mission critical systems development when we can’t even get the most important mission of all working:

  • Mission 1 “Starting”.
  • Mission 2 - Testing the IDE before shipping it, on fresh installed systems.

If lives depended on getting people programming in Ada then we arn’t doing to well. Any ideas, I want to help get this right.
P.S. www.adaworks.it is served from a server written in Ada by me and serving about 9 other sites. 2 of the sites are active sites using a database written in ada by me. The active pages are generated from Ada written by guess who? Correct. Also served from that site is www.tomdehavas.com all about “Oh god not again. Me” I only tell you this to prove that I have a long history of programming and at least some experience in C, C++ and Ada. So its just that I like working on code not trying to make my tools work.
Well if you have read this far than thanks for listening. Yes I am passionate about Ada to and I am happy to help with getting the entry points improved i.e. these first missions.

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