ASIS Makes Ada Tools Portable

ASIS Takes Ada Tool Portability
to New Heights

WASHINGTON, DC (28 May 99)–An international cadre of volunteers has worked for a decade to standardize the development of portable software engineering tools for Ada users. The Ada Semantic Interface Specification (ASIS) Standard has been published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and is now available.

ASIS provides a standard way for tools to extract data that are best collected by an Ada compiler or other source code analyzer. Tools which use ASIS are themselves written in Ada, and can be very easily ported between Ada compilers which support ASIS. Using ASIS, developers can produce powerful code analysis tools with a high degree of portability. They can also save the considerable expense of implementing the algorithms that extract semantic information from the source program. For example, ASIS tools already exist that generate source-code metrics, check a program’s conformance to coding styles or restrictions, make cross-references, and globally analyze programs for validation and verification.

The name of the new standard is: ISO/IEC 15291:1999, Information technology –Programming languages — Ada Semantic Interface Specification (ASIS).

The ASIS Standard is available via the ISO Catalog at; the ASIS specific reference is located at

Currie Colket, ASIS Working Group Chair, announced the ASIS Standard’s publication. He said, “It was a distinct pleasure of mine to work with a highly professional and cooperative team dedicated to producing a powerful interface to the Ada compilation environment. Thank you all for producing a product which will benefit the entire Ada community.”

S. Tucker Taft, head of the Ada Resource Association, a professional trade organization of tool vendors, said that “The ARA heartily supports the ASIS standard, and applauds the hard work that made it possible. The core team alone included dozens of Ada users around the world. Many Ada vendors already support ASIS to some degree, or have ongoing efforts to do so.”

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Background Material

The History and Future of the Ada Programming Language

Named in honor of the world’s first computer programmer, Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, Ada is a high-level programming language designed to support the construction of long-lived, highly reliable software systems. In 1983, Ada became an international standard, with an ISO (International Organization of Standards) revision in 1995.

As the first internationally standardized object-oriented programming language, Ada 95 is well suited for developing reusable components, real-time and parallel processing systems, and interfaces with systems written in other languages. Advanced features include: a high level of abstraction, strong typing, OOP characteristics (classes, inheritance, polymorphism, late binding), and tasking constructions.

The new standard of Ada 95 was designed and developed by an international process of unprecedented scale for a programming language. A Board of Distinguished Reviewers representing six different countries and comprising 28 world-renowned leaders in academia and industry provided oversight and evaluation of the immense input from the international community of users.

The revision, which required over four years to complete, is an update of the 1987 International Organization for Standardization (ISO) release and the equivalent 1983 American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Ada standard.

ISO delegates unanimously accepted the revision. Ada 95 also received ANSI approval, following a period of public review and comment, and has been adopted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology as a Federal Information Processing Standard.

The capabilities of Ada 83 were enhanced for Ada 95 through the definition of a small number of new “building blocks” in three basic areas: object oriented programming, programming in the large, and real-time and parallel programming. In each case, the revision team used existing features as the basis for enhanced capabilities. The language is fully portable and successfully addresses programming concerns such as the effective integration of legacy systems and upward compatibility, as well as efficient “programming in the large,” the development of very large programs, which are often over one million lines of code.

This building process ensured that the revision was a natural evolution, one that would increase Ada’s popularity with new users, while maintaining its appeal to existing users. The goal was to enhance the language to support new and more complex system implementations, but not to disrupt its use in existing applications. To achieve this, Ada 95 retains the inherent integrity and efficiency of its predecessor, as the first advanced building block language to assemble a host of important features, while adhering to the demands of modern software engineering practice.

Official Announcement of the ASIS Approval


Wonderful News!!!! The Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) Ballot on ASIS was approved! ASIS will be shortly available as an International Standard! Twenty-three Nations voted to approve ASIS as an International Standard (there were 0 [zero] nations voting for disapproval and 7 [seven] nations abstained).

The name of the new standard will likely be:

ISO/IEC 15291:1999, Information technology – – Programming languages – – Ada Semantic Interface Specification (ASIS)

There is some question about its official name. Although the Table of Replies was not tabulated until 1999-01-12, there is still a possibility that the “1999” might be a “1998” as the ballot was approved in December 1998. Information on the ASIS ISO Standard is available at the URL. This page currently reflects ASIS as ISO/IEC DIS 15291. As soon as the standard is published, this page should be updated to reflect its availability. The ASIS Home Page at the URL will be updated shortly to reflect that ASIS is now approved as an International Standard.

For your information, Mr. James W. Moore, Convener of WG9, wrote:

To: WG9 Participants

A couple of important events have occurred:

DIS 15291, the ASIS specification, has passed its JTC1 ballot. Currie Colket and Clyde Roby have corrected the proof of the draft and have sent it to ITTF for publication.

FCD 18009, Ada Conformity Assessment, has been submitted for concurrent CD registration and FCD ballot by SC22. The document passed its working group ballot unanimously with comments submitted by the UK. Erhard Ploededereder performed the comment resolution in record time. (The new draft and the disposition of comments will be posted on our web site within a few days.)

We all owe our deepest thanks to Currie, Clyde and Erhard for their dedicated work on these projects.

Jim Moore

There are a number of additional people who have worked very hard to get ASIS to where it is today. We are indebted to the ASIS Working Group (ASISWG) and ASIS Rapporteur Group (ASISRG) members who spent many hours evolving an ASIS for Ada 83 to an ASIS for Ada 95. We are indebted to the work of the National reviewers who provided excellent comments, which have resulted in a significantly improved ASIS specification for the Ada community. We are indebted to the many who helped resolve these issues. We are indebted to those in SC22 and ISO who worked close with us for standardization. These creators, reviewers, resolvers and facilitators included: Cheryl Barbasch, Gary Barnes, John Barnes, Bill Beckwith, Roy Bell, Jim Bladen, Steve Blake, Alex Blakemore, Keith Brannon, David Brookman, Ben Brosgol, Gary Bundy, Vincent Celier, Dave Clark, Richard Conn, Dan Cooper, John Dawes, Robert Dewar, Bill Eastman, Bob Ekman, Dan Ehrenfried, Dan Eilers, Magnus Ericson, Arthur Evans, Dan Fisher, Herm Fischer, Vasiliy Fofanov, Mark Gerhardt, Wesley Hair, Hal Hart, Peter Hermann, Chuck Hobin, Maretta Holden, Bob Hokanson, Rick Hudson, Kiyoshi Ishihata, Jesper Joergensen, Bjorn Kallberg, Magnus Kempe, Allan Kopp, Alexei Kuchumov, Alain Le Guennec, Janusz Laski, Robert Leif, Pascal Leroy, Jim Longers, Ole Oest, Stefan Landherr, Bob Mathis, Steve Michell, Jim Moore, Peter Obermayer, Bertrand Petitprez, Michael Pickett, Erhard Ploedereder, Ron Price, Gil Prine, Bill Pritchett, Bill Rinehuls, Dan Rittersdorf, Clyde Roby, Sergey Rybin, Tom Shields, Steen Silberg, John Solomond, John Spangler, David Spenhoff, Doug Smith, Tom Strelich, Alfred Strohmeier, Joyce Tokar, Bill Thomas, Kevin Tucker, Luba Vladavsky, Mickey White, Brian Wichmann, John Wiley, Steve Ziegler, Eugene Zeuff, and many others.

A very, very special thanks to those who served in key positions in making ASIS happen these folks are: Currie Colket (ASISWG Chair/ASISRG Chair), Dr. Tom Shields (first ASISWG Chair), Steve Blake (ASISWG Vice Chair; ASISRG Co-Editor), Clyde Roby (ASISWG Recorder; ASISRG Co-Editor), Dan Cooper (ASISWG Vice-Recorder), Dr. Bill Thomas (ASISWG Vice Chair for Publicity/Meetings), Gary Barnes (ASISWG Archivist), Cheryl Barbasch (Active Member), Dr. Robert Dewar (Active member), Jesper Joergensen (Active Member), Dan Rittersdorf (Active Lurker), Dr. Sergey Rybin (Active Member), Steen Silberg (Active Member), Professor Alfred Strohmeier (Active Member), and Dr. Joyce Tokar (Active Member).

Several monumental efforts should be recognized: Gary Barnes, Steve Blake, Sergey Rybin and Joyce Tokar rapidly brought ASIS into the Rational, AONIX, DDC-I, and ACT environments. The development of these ASIS implementations by different vendors concurrent with the development of the ASIS specification was vitally important to the standardization of ASIS. The efforts of Dan Cooper, Dan Rittersdorf, and Bill Thomas in addressing issues from the user perspective is particularly noteworthy. Clyde Roby and Steve Blake did a fantastic job as technical editors. A very special thanks goes to Clyde Roby who is truly a wizard at generating a large technical document and making the World Wide Web effective for the dissemination of ASIS information via the ASIS Home Page. His work in providing ASIS and the Resolution of Editorial and Technical Comments on the ASIS Home Page was vital to the success of ASIS. I would like to thank Professor Richard Conn for insuring the latest ASIS versions have been on the Public Ada Library (PAL) CD-ROMs. And yes, a very special thanks goes to Dan Ehrenfried whose idea for the LRM interfaces in the 1980s mushroomed into ASIS.

As the ASIS interface has been a totally volunteer effort since 1989, ASIS happened because a number of key organizations recognized the value of cooperation and committed their resources to benefit the entire Ada community. These key organizations are: ACT, Ada_Med, Aonix, Boeing, CACI, Celsius Tech Naval Systems, Concurrent Computer Corporation, DCS Corporation, DDC-I, Defense Science and Technology Organization, EDS, GRC, Hughes Aircraft, IDA, Intermetrics, Irvine Compiler Corporation, Little Tree Consulting, Lockheed-Martin, Magnavox, Mark V Systems, Maurya Software, Meiji University, MITRE, Moscow State University, National Physical Laboratory, New York University, Oakland University, Objective Interface Systems, Odyssey Research Associates, Peregrine Systems, Praxis Critical Systems, Rational, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Texas Instruments, UNISYS, Universitaet Stuttgart, Uppsala University, U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Navy.

A special thanks goes the Ada Joint Program Office (specially Dr. John Solomond and Dr. Charles Engle), the WG9 convenors (Mr. James Moore and Dr. Robert Mathis), the ACM SIGAda chairs (specially Mr. Mark Gerhardt, Mr. Hal Hart and Mr. Ben Brosgol), and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) (specially Mr. Phillip Andrews and Mr. Carl Andriani), who recognized the code analysis value of ASIS to assess the quality of software for mission-critical and safety-critical applications, and consequently encouraged my participation on this very important interface.

It was a distinct pleasure of mine to work with a highly professional and cooperative team dedicated to producing a powerful interface to the Ada compilation environment. Thank you all for producing a product which will benefit the entire Ada community.

Currie Colket
+1 (703) 242-4561

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