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3 posts from September 2013


It’s Back to School for Ada!

AdaCore introduces AdaCore University

When it comes to embedded programming, Ada does not get a ton of attention – especially when compared to increasingly popular languages such as Java or C++. However, Ada is extremely effective for the safety-critical markets in which it plays, and its use has remained steady over the years. With Java and other languages’ continued rise in popularity – a trend driven in large part by younger engineers joining the workforce – Ada had been considered by some to be an antiquated language used by an aging segment of the engineering population. The release of Ada 2012 late last year began to turn the tide in the other direction.

AdaCore, which made significant contributions to the development of Ada 2012, is now looking to further drive Ada to the forefront of programmers’ minds with the introduction of AdaCore University. Launched earlier this week, AdaCore University is a free, web-based resource center targeting those interested in learning Ada. Courses are led by Ada experts such as AdaCore co-founders Robert Dewar and Edmond Schonberg, and provide students with hands-on Ada programming experience. All students are given access to AdaCore’s GNAT Ada development environment.

While Ada will remain in its safety-critical niche, AdaCore’s dedication to bringing the language to a new generation of embedded engineers will help Ada achieve a greater growth trajectory. And of course, providing students with the GNAT Ada development environment is a great way to get future customers!


BlackBerry reaches preliminary buyout deal; what’s next for QNX?

What happened?

Earlier today, in an announcement that probably surprised no one, BlackBerry revealed that it had reached a preliminary, $4.7 billion deal to be acquired by a consortium led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited. Fairfax already owns approximately 10% of the company, and would likely take the company private upon completion of the deal.

VDC’s View

When I first read this news, my thoughts immediately turned to QNX Software Systems. When QNX was acquired by BlackBerry (then RIM) in 2010 and subsequently tasked with saving its new parent company’s ailing smartphone business, we reacted with what I would call tempered skepticism. After all, while Neutrino was (and remains) a robust operating system with a rich heritage in a variety of embedded systems, it had never actually been deployed in mobile phones prior to the acquisition. Several years later, it would appear that our question “Can QNX Save RIM?” may have been answered.

That said, the task with which QNX was charged was not an easy one, and the company can hardly be blamed for BlackBerry’s struggles. In fact, QNX remains an extremely valuable asset to its owners – whoever they may be. But how will things change for QNX in the face of yet another ownership change? And what might new owners do with QNX?

If somehow released from its BlackBerry shackles, I expect QNX will double down on its automotive efforts and take a much more aggressive stance against Microsoft and the myriad Linux-based competitors in this space. This area has been fiercely competitive during the last 12-18 months, and considering the volume of connect cars expected to hit the streets in the next several years, the stakes are incredibly high. Of course, the operative word in the first sentence of this paragraph is “if” – and that “if” is a big one. A much more likely scenario is that QNX will continue to devote a large portion of its development efforts to digging BlackBerry out of its hole. Unfortunately I’m not much more optimistic about the prospects of that option – new owners or not – than I was several years ago.

Perhaps the best scenario for QNX would be for Dan Dodge to pull a Michael Dell and buy the company back himself. Only time will tell…


Controlling Complexity with Automated Testing

The increase in the volume and complexity of software code in recent years is indisputable. Software has now become the most critical component for end product differentiation. It is likewise intuitively understood that it is, therefore, the most critical path within the product development cycle. Unfortunately, the larger, more complex software projects of today inevitably result in higher volumes of defects within these code bases.

More and more organizations are recognizing the need to identify critical quality, safety and security issues early in the lifecycle where they are the least expensive to fix. The use of automated test and verification tools (ATVT) are a key part of the remediation solution.

Test tool use

VDC’s research verifies that automated testing tool use increases the frequency of defect detection in current projects. More importantly, the findings confirm that engineers using testing tools are more likely to find vulnerabilities and defects earlier in the development cycle than nonusers of the tools.

Interested in learning more about the trends impacting software engineering today and best practices for quality software development?


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