Ada 95 Quality and Style Guide Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Introduction - TOC

Style is an often overlooked but very critical attribute of writing. The style of writing directly impacts the readability and understandability of the end product. The style of programming, as the writing of source code in a computer language, also suffers from this neglect. Programs need to be readable and understandable by humans, not just comparable by machines. This requirement is important in the creation of quality products that not only meet user needs but also can be developed on schedule and within estimated cost. This book is intended to help the computer professional produce better Ada programs. It presents a set of specific stylistic guidelines for using the powerful features of Ada 95 (Ada Reference Manual 1995) in a disciplined manner.

Each guideline consists of a concise statement of the principles that should be followed and a rationale for following the guideline. In most cases, an example of the use of the guideline is provided, and, in some cases, a further example is included to show the consequences of violating the guideline. Possible exceptions to the application of the guideline are explicitly noted, and further explanatory notes are provided, where appropriate. In some cases, an instantiation is provided to show more specific guidance that could be enforced as a standard. In selected cases, automation notes discuss how one could automate enforcement of the guideline.

Ada was designed to support the development of high-quality, reliable, reusable, and portable software. For a number of reasons, no programming language can ensure the achievement of these desirable objectives on its own. For example, programming must be embedded in a disciplined development process that addresses requirements analysis, design, implementation, verification, validation, and maintenance in an organized way. The use of the language must conform to good programming practices based on well-established software engineering principles. This book is intended to help bridge the gap between these principles and the actual practice of programming in Ada.

Many of the guidelines in this book are designed to promote clear source text. The goal of these guidelines is to improve the ease of program evolution, adaptation, and maintenance. Understandable source text is more likely to be correct and reliable. Easy adaptation requires a thorough understanding of the software; this is considerably facilitated by clarity. Effective code adaptation is a prerequisite to code reuse, a technique that has the potential for drastic reductions in system development cost. Finally, because maintenance (really evolution) is a costly process that continues throughout the life of a system, clarity plays a major role in keeping maintenance costs down. Over the entire life cycle, code has to be read and understood far more often than it is written; thus, the investment in writing readable, understandable code is worthwhile.

The remaining sections of this introduction discuss the organization of this book and how the material presented can be used by people in different roles, including new Ada programmers, experienced Ada programmers, object-oriented programmers, software project managers, contracting agencies, standards setting organizations, and planners of the transition to Ada 95 from existing Ada 83 (Ada Reference Manual 1983) programs.

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Appendix References Bibliography