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Monday, 13 June 2022 10:06

Give Ada embedded code a new lease on life

Isn’t it time to give Ada a break?

 

The coding language’s namesake, Ada Lovelace, had a rough life. She began life as a pawn in an infamous aristocratic marital deathmatch. Her father, the famous poet Lord Byron, despised her, calling her an “instrument of torture.” Her mother deeply resented her, and pushed her into mathematics to spite her literary rockstar father. 

But Ada thrived in the world of numbers. Working with Charles Babbage, generally considered the father of the computer, Ada first conceptualized the idea of a computer language, prophetically referring to Babbage’s difference engine as a “thinking machine.” She devised the first program to calculate Bernoulli numbers within the earliest mechanical computing devices.

 

“A new, a vast, and a powerful language is developed for the future use of analysis”
—Ada Lovelace

 

Just look at the difference engine and you can see that Ms. Lovelace worked at the intersection of computing software and hardware machinery. So it made sense that the US Department of Defense named its largest embedded coding project ever after her. The Ada language was released in 1977 as a high-level object-oriented language for use in real-time and embedded systems.

 

“If Ada fails, people die.”

 

Those real-time constraints have meant that Ada has to perform without error. It’s used in safety critical embedded systems for air traffic control, avionics, weapons control, global positioning navigation, and medical equipment. If Ada fails, people die.

 

Why break up with Ada?

 

Ada has served remarkably well over the years and still does. But as the nature scale of computing changes beyond even Ada Lovelace’s wildest imaginings, her namesake needs updating to the cloud age. The disadvantages are starting to tell:

 

Ada coders are rare—and expensive
Ada is less common than Java, and the ratio of Java programmers to Ada programmers is now about 20:1. That relative scarcity has also driven up the cost of hiring Ada coders.

 

Ada is less integration-friendly
Most Java and C# installations are not easy to integrate with Ada applications, taking more of those expensive Ada coder hours to implement and maintain.

 

Ada compilers are getting harder to find
With the decline in use comes a decline in vendors. The increasing scarcity of compilers will drive up costs while reducing sources of innovation.

 

Ada’s licensing future is uncertain
As more and more systems modernize, Ada licensing will change. And there’s no indication that it will get easier or less expensive. As Ada becomes more and more a “collector’s item,” its price will probably rise.

 

The libraries are old and aging
Sure, once an Ada library is running it requires less maintenance, but its libraries tend to be old and, as a result of that lack of required maintenance, not updated. (i.e., “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”) This presents a risk.

 

Eventually, Ada will be so far behind that the costs of running it will outweigh the benefits of keeping it performing as flawlessly as necessary. But often it’s hard to see the additional cost of Ada coders, missed innovation opportunities, creeping licensing costs, and higher risk until something becomes urgent. The best approach is to take care of it sooner rather than waiting for a crisis.

 

Giving Ada a second—and better—life

 

So how do you continue—and improve on—Ada’s outstanding track record, while clearing the way for the fast-evolving needs and future of modern computing? And how do you do it all without disrupting critical the safety of air traffic, the protection of warfighters, or the pinpointing of GPS satellites? Well, if you’ve flown to Europe in the last 10 years, you’ve already experienced TSRI’s solution in action.

Over decades and through hundreds of modernization projects, TSRI has perfected an automated methodology that delivers full assurance, and greater speed at a fraction of the cost of manual modernization efforts.

Using AI and machine learning, TSRI’s proprietary JANUS Studio® automates 99.9X% of the modernization process, while maintaining (and improving) the exacting levels of performance Ada embedded systems demand. Code modernization projects that would have taken years now take months—or weeks—and can save over 90% on post-modernization code maintenance.
 

 

Speaking of thinking machines, JANUS Studio® learns and evolves with every line of code it sees and transforms. For each modernization, its unique modeling format takes advantage of the over 200 million lines of code it has transformed for higher and higher speed and accuracy. That means faster, continually more assured, and less costly modernization for your Ada code.

TSRI’s near 100%-automated transformation technology accurately, quickly, and cost-effectively transforms legacy code, underlying databases, and user interfaces into multi-tiered modern environments. Then, to achieve unrivaled accuracy, it documents and re-factors the modernized application using the same fully automated technology and model-driven iterative approach.

 

If you think this is something for future consideration, it’s not. Action is going to be needed—and soon. In the coming months, government agencies and other organizations will need to respond to the newly-introduced Legacy IT Reduction Bill introduced recently by John Cornyn, (R-TX) and Maggie Hansen (D-NH). It mandates modernization and calls for specific steps to be taken right away on passage to show progress. So, even it feels like Ada is still doing its job, it’s time to start thinking about showing her the door.

 

Take a look at some of the major clients whose Ada code has gotten a second, modernized life through TSRI:

Eurocat Air Traffic Management System (TopSky) tracks commercial aircraft over 19 European countries and Australia. Transformation of Ada to both Java and C++ with improved performance and maintainability.

The Canadian Armed Forces Crypto Material Management System (CMMS) handles the reception, distribution and control of NATO cryptographic material. Conversion of Ada to C# at 100% automation.

GEMS (Geospatial Embedded Mapping Software) provides real-time ground proximity information for the B52, F15 and other aircraft. 100% successful conversion with unit testing that met and exceeded military avionics standards.

The Navy’s P-3C Orion aircraft acoustic signal processor, which receives and analyzes sonobuoy data for maritime patrol and reconnaissance. Modernized Ada code for 100% compatibility with and provided error-free linkages to the targeted platform in C++.

 

 

Get ahead of mandated modernization, contact TSRI now.

 

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TSRI is Here for You 
TSRI brings software applications into the future quickly, accurately, and efficiently with low risk and minimal business disruption, accomplishing in months what would otherwise take years. As a leading provider of software modernization services, TSRI enables technology readiness for the cloud and other modern architecture environments.

 

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