[Newbies] Smalltalk is a Mystery to Me

Tcykgreis at aol.com Tcykgreis at aol.com
Fri Aug 22 00:30:25 UTC 2008

I have had a curiosity about Smalltalk for many years so I recently  
downloaded and installed Squeak. That's when the trouble began. I have written  
applications that deal bridge hands and either display the hands on screen or  save 
them in a couple of different formats. I originally wrote the 'words' in  
Forth. I later tried Ruby and rewrote most of the programs in Ruby. I did it as  a 
learning experience. I sat out to do the same thing in Squeak, again as a  
learning experience, but have made virtually no progress. I create the class  
'Bridge' with the subclass of dealer. I try to initialize by filling a byteArray 
 with 52 numbers, 0 through 51. I tended to create additional methods to 
shuffle  and deal the cards to four more byte arrays named north, east, south, and 
west.  Eventually I will need another method to "stack the deck." I will also 
need a  counter to keep track of the deal number.
I can't get started, and I mean zero progress, because I can't create and  
load deck. It seems like the documentation is never quit up to date. I read  
about curly braces and tried deck := {0. 1. 2. ... }. When I try to accept it,  
first deck is questioned and then after deck I get something about not 
expecting  anything else.
I know there is a word 'asByteArray:' and I assume a number would specify  
the size of the array but nowhere can I find anything about the order in which  
the information should be provided. I tried deck asByteArray: 52 but I don't  
know if it worked. If it did work, how do I load the bytes into it? How do I  
look at a byte in a particular location in the array? Can I remove a byte from 
 position x and/or insert a byte at position y and everything moves to  
accommodate the change.
In Forth and Ruby, I was able to store the hands as a 2D bit array, 4 suits  
and 13 bits. If the card was present the bit was set. When I dealt the cards,  
the appropriate bits were set.. This worked really well. The suits came out  
already sorted. The strength of a suit turned out to be related to the value  
stored for the suit. The number of cards in the suit could be found by 
counting  set bits. I have yet to find bit-manipulating words in Squeak/Smalltalk.
As an aside, the least number of bits that must be used to store a complete  
deal is 104 or 13 bytes. The bits are arranged in 52 2-bit groups. The 
position  in the array represents the value of the card and the bits determine which 
hands  gets the card represented by that position. When you shuffle the 2-bit 
groups  must be kept in tact. I could easily do this in Forth but could not do 
it in  Ruby. If you are going to save a few million hands, it is nice to be 
able to do  so in this most compact form.
If I could just figure out where to find the answers to these beginner  
question, I would really appreciate it. It would also be nice if I could see  some 
examples of these methods.

**************It's only a deal if it's where you want to go. Find your travel 
deal here.      
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