Report from the eleventh Ada DK meeting

The other day the eleventh open Ada DK meeting was held, and it was a massively enjoyable experience. Honestly, it was one of the most entertaining Ada DK meetings ever. It was basically 6 guys spending an entire evening talking Ada programming, tech and all the geeky stuff we don’t get to talk about all that often.

And to top it off, we had visitor! Yes, that’s right, a brand new potential Ada DK member showed up: Johan Olmütz Nielsen. I say potential, because I’m intent on convincing him that Ada DK is _THE_ place for him to be. Johan knows our chairman (Jørgen Bundgaard) from way back where they worked on some of the first Ada compilers together. Today Johan is still working on Ada compilers, so he’s a fountain of knowledge about our favorite language. And it doesn’t hurt either that he’s a pretty nice guy.

So who was there?

The amount of subjects covered that evening was pretty staggering, so it’s quite impossible for me to remember it all, and yes I forgot taking pictures and shooting videos. Blast my slow brain! But I do remember some things. First we talked a lot about the new AdaHeads project/company, where we plan on taking on the world of telephony software using Ada. It’s still very early days – we only just founded the company 4 days ago, and we haven’t even setup our office space yet. But we’ll get there, and hopefully we’ll start pumping out some interesting open source software “soon”. I’m very excited about this project, and I’m sure we’ll end up with some great products.

Obviously with both Johan and Jørgen there, a lot of talk centered around how to do compilers and some of the interesting and funny stories they both had to share from the early days of Ada. For someone like me, who is still very much an Ada beginner, it’s fascinating hearing about all the hoops these guys had to jump through to get a working Ada compiler to market. With those stories in mind, the GNAT compiler seems even more amazing.

I got to talk a bit about using Ada for other stuff than spaceships, missiles, trains and aeroplanes, and I even got to flex my early Yolk project, or at least the demo website. It might not be the best Ada code ever written, but it does show that Ada most certainly can excel in areas where interpreted languages usually reign supreme.

Kim had brought some interesting hardware and we got to see his binary counter in real life. The code is currently in C, but he plans on Ada’ifying it soon. Ulrik and I had spend the entire day chasing libraries for controlling speakers and microphones (cross platform) and we’d managed to get a screaming echo server up and running, complete with a very thin Ada binding. We ended up using the mediastreamer2 library used by the open source cross-platform LinPhone softphone. Happy days!

We also talked a lot about software quality, and the relationship between the amount of design/architecture and the amount of rework necessary after launch. Per had some very interesting graphs on his website, and that sparked a fair amount of debate. Well, debate might be a strong word, seeing as we all more or less agreed that a solid architecture is an absolute necessity for any significant piece of software.

Oh, and it was also Kim’s birthday! What a trooper: Spending your birthday with your Ada friends. That’s just going above and beyond. Cheers mate!

Jørgen and Ulrik had a chat about VDM and formal methods, while the rest of us talked about universal and root types. Both subjects were spiced up with food from the local chinese restaurant. There’s hardly anything better than good food mixed with good conversation.

I also got to air one my pet peeves about Ada: The disturbing lack of vocal Ada’ists. Sure, things are slowly improving, but in general far too few Ada programmers bother talking about their language of choice, which is really sad, because Ada does deserve being talked about. I was though glad to report that Internet Explorer usage was down to a measly 13% on the Ada DK website, so while Ada programmers in general might not be the most vocal crowd, they do indeed understand what a good browser is, and that IE isn’t one such. Windows usage is also at an all time low among the Ada DK visitors, hovering around the 50% mark. It seems to me that Ada programming results in some pretty sensible browser/OS choices. 😀

A whole lot more went down, but I can’t remember it all. I promise I’ll shoot some pictures next time, and perhaps even do a video or two. We might as well share some of the fun!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to write an email to Johan. I’m going to do my best trying to convince him to join Ada DK. The more the merrier!

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