Exceptions are a mechanism for dealing with run-time occurrences that are rare, that usually correspond to errors (such as improperly formed input data), and whose occurrence causes an unconditional transfer of control.

Standard Exceptions

Compared with Java and C++, the notion of an Ada exception is very simple. An exception in Ada is an object whose "type" is exception, as opposed to classes in Java or any type in C++. The only piece of user data that can be associated with an Ada exception is a String. Basically, an exception in Ada can be raised, and it can be handled; information associated with an occurrence of an exception can be interrogated by a handler.

Ada makes heavy use of exceptions especially for data consistency check failures at run time. These include, but are not limited to, checking against type ranges and array boundaries, null pointers, various kind of concurrency properties, and functions not returning a value. For example, the following piece of code will raise the exception Constraint_Error:

procedure P is
   V : Positive;
   V := -1;
end P;

In the above code, we're trying to assign a negative value to a variable that's declared to be positive. The range check takes place during the assignment operation, and the failure raises the Constraint_Error exception at that point. (Note that the compiler may give a warning that the value is out of range, but the error is manifest as a run-time exception.) Since there is no local handler, the exception is propagated to the caller; if P is the main procedure, then the program will be terminated.

Java and C++ can throw and catch exceptions when trying code. All Ada code is already implicitly within try blocks, and exceptions are raised and handled.


   when Exception_1 =>
      Put_Line ("Error 1");
   when Exception_2 =>
      Put_Line ("Error 2");
   when others =>
      Put_Line ("Unknown error");


try {
   someCall ();
} catch (Exception1) {
   cout << "Error 1" << endl;
} catch (Exception2) {
   cout << "Error 2" << endl;
} catch (...) {
   cout << "Unknown error" << endl;


try {
   someCall ();
} catch (Exception1 e1) {
   System.out.println ("Error 1");
} catch (Exception2 e2) {
   System.out.println ("Error 2");
} catch (Throwable e3) {
   System.out.println ("Unknown error");

Raising and throwing exceptions is permissible in all three languages.

Custom Exceptions

Custom exception declarations resemble object declarations, and they can be created in Ada using the exception keyword:

My_Exception : exception;

Your exceptions can then be raised using a raise statement, optionally accompanied by a message following the with reserved word:


raise My_Exception with "Some message";


throw My_Exception ("Some message");


throw new My_Exception ("Some message");

Language defined exceptions can also be raised in the same manner:

raise Constraint_Error;