Fortran Specialist Group Chairman's Report for 1997/98

Communication with members is now supposed to be through the Internet. Unfortunately, some of us are not able to have full access to the information stored on the World Wide Web on Fortran and the Group's Web pages have not been updated during the year. I had intended to increase communication with members postally and I regret that this has not happened. A recent review of the bcs-fsg list indicates that under 10% of members are on the list and only about half are actually members of the Group. I apologise to those members who have received only the minimum of information from the Group.

Again this year the Fortran Forum has failed to materialise. However, the Numerical Algorithms Group and Visual Numerics have organised another Fortran Futures (FF) and the Group was invited to be a co-sponsor. This event will cover current Fortran standards work so attendance will bring you up-to-date. The Group included a registration form in its last mailing and has arranged some publicity through the BCS in Computing and Computer Weekly. The Group will also be an Exhibitor at FF 98 on behalf of the BCS and some of our members will be in attendance as well as some have been asked to give a talk.

I am not able to take an active role in Fortran standards; I leave that to the experts, in particular, Miles Ellis and David Muxworthy, to whom thanks go for all their hard work on behalf of the Group. I have been able to attend all the Technical Board (TB) meetings during the year. The TB is the next layer of administration from Specialist Groups (SG) usually with chairs acting as representatives. The year has not been free from turmoil with finances being the top of the list. Proposals for re-structuring the way SGs are financed may leave the Group in an untenable position as we rely almost entirely on BCS HQ support and funding. However, it won't happen during this coming year.

During the year the BCS sends its chairs details of projects and other information which may not be sent to members. I try and sift the information and decide what is relevant and what needs a response. I have copies of the following if members wish to see them:

  1. Draft Proposal: Computer Consultancy Register, Scheme and Regulations.
  2. The European Computer Driving Licence (EDCL): Syllabus.
  3. Continuing Professional Development (CPD): Log Book and other information including CD-ROM.
  4. Review &Directory: 40th Year Commemorative Edition and CD-ROM.
  5. Document Imaging Specialist Group: International Conference - "IMC '98".

The AGM this year takes place a week before the FF 98 event. We are required to meet face-to-face at least once a year and this is an important meeting for the Group. Everyone should have received the notice of the meeting with the agenda in good time as well as the minutes of last year's AGM. I do hope you will be able to come to elect the committee for the coming year. Miles Ellis is stepping down as Vice-Chairman due to pressure of work. I consider myself a 'caretaker' Chairman as I have been a Fortran Programmer for more than 35 years and, perhaps, retirement beckons. We also need ideas for our future. In the afternoon, we shall have an update on Fortran 2000 from David Muxworthy and Miles Ellis. (This talk will be free!)

We are all well aware that Fortran Standards are currently "in between" and that we are unlikely to see again the furore surrounding Fortran 90. The next standard requiring input from Fortran practitioners will be Fortran 2005 and this will be discussed at the next Fortran Forum. Despite stories to the contrary, Fortran continues to thrive and, I believe, we still need the Group to 'spread the message' in the UK.

John Young
6th May 1998

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