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Specialist Groups Development Fund Programme Project:
Support for Fortran 2003 Development

Progress Report April 2004


In March 2002 the Fortran Specialist Group submitted a bid to the BCS Specialist Group Development Fund for a project "To support a continued UK contribution to the development of the ISO Fortran standard, Fortran 2000, and to allow the project to be completed to schedule". Essentially this was to allow three UK Fortran experts to attend the two WG5 meetings to be held in 2003 in order to contribute to the overall effort and to represent UK opinion on the developments. A full report of the application and subsequent activities up to April 2003 was given at last year's AGM

UK Participation

At the following WG5 meeting in July 2003 six countries were represented and again the UK played a major role, with five of the 15 individuals attending being from the UK; three of those five were supported financially by the BCS.

It was resolved that the informal name of the language should be Fortran 2003. Otherwise the meeting was largely spent correcting minor errors and inconsistencies which had been noted following integration of the relatively extensive changes made four months previously. The standard remains on schedule and is expected to be published towards the end of 2004. More details are given in John Reid's report.

Further Application

It can fairly be claimed that the BCS investment has paid off handsomely. However, the Development Fund support was for the calendar year 2003 only and there remained one further WG5 meeting before the standard was finalized. This was to be in May 2004 and was to review and act on the outcome of the ISO ballot on the last version of the draft standard for which it was possible to make technical changes. To maintain the impetus, in September 2003 a further application was made to the BCS Specialist Group Development Programme again to support three UK experts to attend the 2004 meeting, and also to fund participation in the BSI Programming Languages committee; this is a necessary prerequisite for UK activity in ISO. I am very pleased to report that in December this too was approved. The award was for £4096, to be spent £256 in 2003/4 and £3840 in 2004/5. After the application went in to BCS, BSI, after long and vociferous complaints from its committee members, decided that the relevant participation fee should be zero for 2004, but with no guarantees about 2005.

We have been informed by BCS that any funds not spent by the end of 2004/5 can be carried forward; this may well be useful as the first WG5 meeting for the next round of Fortran revision will take place in May 2005.

Further Activities

Already an appeal has gone out to the general Fortran public, including an e-mail message to FSG members (available here) , asking for requirements to be contributed for the next revision of the Fortran standard, which is tentatively scheduled for completion in 2009. The result of the worldwide trawl for requirements is expected to be defined over the next couple of years into a programme of action for the various standardization committees.

The BCS SG Development Fund was envisaged as a device to promote special projects and although it would be highly desirable for us, it was thought unlikely that the BCS would be willing to continue to give year on year financial support after completion of the Fortran 2003 standard. However it has been suggested that the BCS MSB may be amenable to considering another application later this year and it is intended to pursue this possibility.

David Muxworthy
BSI Fortran Convenor
April 1, 2004

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