[Newbies] [semi-OT] (fwd) Re: What Killed Smalltalk?

Benjamin L. Russell DekuDekuplex at Yahoo.com
Tue Nov 17 07:13:02 UTC 2009

There was an interesting post on comp.lang.smalltalk which, although
semi-off-topic (it concerns Smalltalk as a language, rather than
Squeak as an implementation specifically), reveals some of the
misunderstandings that many industry professionals have toward
Smalltalk in general.

The main portion of the message consists of a "(virtual) conversation
between a decision maker and a Smalltalk programmer."  It seems that
many of these misunderstandings (with the exception of the one related
to speed, since Squeak is actually quite fast) relate to Squeak as

Any comments?

 A forwarded copy of that post follows:

On Tue, 17 Nov 2009 00:15:17 +0100, in comp.lang.smalltalk Guido
Stepken <gstepken at googlemail.com> wrote:
--8<---------------cut here---------------start------------->8---
Truth schrieb:
 > After watching http://railsconf.blip.tv/file/2089545/ I have to
 > respond - somewhere.  Smalltalk died of a hundred cuts.

Oh, yes, i really enjoyed watching this.

I think, smalltalk died a lack of communication what smalltalk really

Smalltalk is a 'reflection language' about and written in itself,
represented by a bunch of - RAM floating - 'set of activities' - often
miscalled 'objects', communicating like a neuronal network with itself
and with its programmers, with the possibility to put/freeze that in a
single file, called 'image'.

Just to make that a bit more transparent, here a (virtual)
between a decision maker and a Smalltalk programmer:

DM: "Please show me: What have you programmed last years? Where are
libraries? Where's your code contribution?"

- "Sorry, there are no libraries! We have source, yes! My code?
Somewhere within the spittoon of Smalltalk - code. There are no
libraries. They're called 'image'. Can't say, what code i have
contributed in the last years."

"Ok! And where's our data?"

- "Sorry, there is no data!"

"But there must be our data somewhere. Experts say and Oracle sais, we
need a 'data warehouse'. We will have to put all our data into a

- "Sorry - we have no data, no code - we have 'objects'!"

"Ok. I understand. Can you store those 'objects' in Oracle?"

- "Hmmm. No! Does not make any sense."

"I understand. But all the other programmers say, of course, every
programming language is about code and data and state variables!"

- "Sorry, no! Smalltalk is a different thing. We even don't have

"Ok, I see, we have to change to Java or to C++ to get that mismatch

- "There is no need to switch to other languages. We are quite

"Ok, maybe. But the board of directors urge me to introduce a central
'data warehouse' on Oracle. Experts say, that's what all companies

- "No need to introduce Oracle. We even can control a whole production
plant with Smalltalk! Statistics included. They're done on the fly."

"Without central data warehouse? Without Crystal Report, SPSS, Excel?"

- "Yes! I can simply code that into Smalltalk"

"But the other programmers say: 'Smalltalk is slow!' You even can't
control a production plant with one single C++ programm! You need
fast 'real time operating systems' and 'real time program language',
experts say that!"

- "Yes, Smalltalk is much slower. And Smalltalk is no 'real time
system'. But it works fine since many years!"

"Hmmm. Sounds very unrealistic! A whole production plant controlled by
one pentium processor. Ridiculous! By the way: Does Smalltalk 'scale'?

- "Hmmm. No!"

"Our controlling sais - They need to do their own statistics on
Report, SPSS, Excel. They want to make nice productivity charts! Can
they get their own ODBC - Interface - secured by password - to access
data within the 'Smalltalk Image'?"

- "Hmmm. No. There is no such interface. But i simply could add some
counting variables in Smalltalk."

"No, thanx. Our controlling uses sequel! We have paid a lot to teach
them how to make nice production charts with Excel, CR, SPSS and
POWERPOINT, of course! Now you say, the have to learn 'Smalltalk'? No!
They are no programmers! They are controllers! They have to control

Ok. Conclusion: We probably run into many troubles, if we don't switch
to a central data warehouse and a modern progamming language, that
'scales', like JAVA or C++. All experts say - we need central data
warehouse, advanced controlling in production, near realtime
via ODBC-access, RT-OS.

By the way - Can you accellerate Smalltalk code by 'inline assembler',
like in C++?"

- "Can you accelerate your brain by 'inline assembler'? Does it

"You are fired!"

Just my 2ct.

Have fun,

Guido Stepken
--8<---------------cut here---------------end--------------->8---

-- Benjamin L. Russell
Benjamin L. Russell  /   DekuDekuplex at Yahoo dot com
Translator/Interpreter / Mobile:  +011 81 80-3603-6725
"Furuike ya, kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto." 
-- Matsuo Basho^ 

More information about the Beginners mailing list