[Newbies] Misunderstanding Squeak

Nathan Lane nathamberlane at gmail.com
Mon Apr 7 20:11:35 UTC 2008

You guys are hitting most of my problems. Here's the way I design a new
project. First, naturally I find a problem, brainstorm the general solution
to the problem, then I work on two separate pieces, the underlying
functionality and the user interface, be it text-based or graphical or
whatever. After that I will likely compile my first partial version, and
test it to see if what I get is what I expected. If not, I'll review the
compile/runtime error messages (stack traces) and attempt to remedy the
problem. The are other instances in which I have taken on test-based
programming, which involves designing the solution, writing unit tests, then
writing the code for the unit tests, refactoring, writing more tests, and
repeating the process until the solution is complete. I don't understand how
these sorts of processes are accomplished in the object-based system called
squeak. I understand that there is still source code...to some extent, or
maybe always. And I understand the SmallTalk (Squeak) is a managed
environment, i.e. it has a runtime environment that handles types, garbage
collection, etc.

I've started reading that PDF book, and I can't say that I've learned much
yet. I'm also not looking for a short cut or anything. It is simply that up
until I encountered Squeak (the past 18 years) I have never dealt with a
visual environment that deals with development in the way that Squeak seems
to. The only thing that I have ever seen that even compares (in my mind) to
Squeak is Sun's Lively Kernel, an even newer innovation than Squeak. So my
background is in C/C++, Java, Ruby, C#.Net, Visual Basic (6/.Net), Python,
Perl, (X)HTML/CSS/Javascript/XML, PHP, and ASP.Net. How do I take what I
know of those programming languages, Agile development process and such, and
go forward in learning how to use Squeak?

I've heard several people state that they'll "never go back to" those
languages. But I'm very certain that like each of those languages, Squeak
has it's place in the circle of code, and is useful for some tasks, while
other languages are useful for other tasks. So where do I start then?  Do I
keep going in that free PDF book, Squeak By Example?

Does anybody see my difficulty the way I do?


On Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 1:23 PM, Edwin Castro <
edwin.gabriel.castro at lifetime.oregonstate.edu> wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 12:01 PM, Nathan Lane <nathamberlane at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > So, as a beginner, I have noted the many things people have told me
> > about Squeak, but one thing is really bugging me, and I can't break free of
> > it. In my experience programming is a linear task, not object-based, so how
> > do I program using Squeak which uses "active objects"?  I don't understand.
> >
> I've seen this happen a lot when I see new programmers. They'll write
> single method programs that simply make library calls or implement (inline)
> all the functionality they need. My brother took a "learn to program" course
> in college (in C yuk!) and all his programming assignments looked like this.
> I *tried* to teach him to look for patterns and to remove dupplication but
> he never got the hang of it. Writing functions that could be reused was a
> difficult thing for him to comprehend.
> I find that a lot of new programmers learn to program in a procedural
> style and then continue to apply that style with other languages they use
> even if they should use a different style. I think that working through an
> example to show how to think about objects would be very helpful for
> beginners. I would recommend David West's book, Object Thinking<http://www.amazon.com/dp/0735619654/>,
> but a lot of people didn't like the book. I really enjoyed the book but
> perhaps there are better ways to teach how to think about objects...
> --
> Edwin
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Nathan Lane
Home, http://www.nathandelane.com
Mirror, http://nathandelane.awardspace.com
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