AdaGIDE: a friendly introductory programming environment for a freshman computer science course Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • We have recently transitioned the programming language in our Introduction to Computer Science course at the U.S. Air Force Academy from Pascal to Ada. Providing an intuitive and straightforward Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Ada that is suitable for freshman use has been one of our greatest challenges. Although we recognize that a number of Ada IDEs are available, these IDEs do not seem to be designed for beginning programmers. Most of them are either too expensive for students to purchase or are designed for development of large programming projects, carrying significant overhead for the small programs we require in our freshman course. Error messages tend to be fairly complicated, assuming a relatively thorough understanding of the language syntax and semantics. Finally, both commercial and free IDEs can have extensive lead time for bug fix development and are not readily extensible.These concerns led us to develop a Windows 95 Ada IDE that is free to the students, contains the appropriate level of functionality for our freshman course, has a minimal, lead time for bug fix development (since we maintain the code in-house), and can be easily extended to contain additional help for the students. Because we implemented this environment in Ada we can also demonstrate to our students that Ada is applicable to real, large projects, and its usefulness is not limited to the small programs they create in the freshman course. This paper describes our preliminary experience with this environment.The next section briefly describes the IDE and the third section lists a number of issues we have faced trying to interface to Windows 95. The fourth and fifth sections discuss student and faculty reaction to and use of the environment. The final section presents our conclusions and our plans for future enhancements to the IDE.

author list (cited authors)

  • Carlisle, M. C., & Chamillard, A. T.

publication date

  • January 1, 1998 11:11 AM