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

Andreas Raab andreas.raab at gmx.de
Tue Nov 17 08:59:01 UTC 2009

Benjamin L. Russell wrote:
> 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
> well.
> Any comments?

If there is a lesson here (I'm not sure there is) then it's this: Don't 
be an egocentric, moronic programmer who knows everything better. Learn 
how to explain Smalltalk to your boss in terms (s)he can understand. 
Explain that the "libraries" are called "classes" and "frameworks", that 
we call "data" just "objects" because they have both "state" and 
behavior. Relate the current industry buzzwords to the equivalent 
Smalltalk concepts. Yes, there are differences, but they are fairly 
small and not too terribly relevant when push comes to shove.

Pretty much everything in this conversation is overstated and wrong in 
practice. And if you top off your playing smart-ass with your boss by 
being unable to explain what you did for the last year it shouldn't 
surprise you that your job security is fairly low. Most managers I've 
worked with liked predictability, liked stable progress, liked 
understanding what was done, what is being done, and what needs to be 
done. Learn how to communicate that in terms your boss can understand.

   - Andreas

>  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
> is:
> 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)
> conversation
> between a decision maker and a Smalltalk programmer:
> DM: "Please show me: What have you programmed last years? Where are
> your
> 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
> central
> database!"
> - "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
> 'states'"
> "Ok, I see, we have to change to Java or to C++ to get that mismatch
> solved."
> - "There is no need to switch to other languages. We are quite
> productive!"
> "Ok, maybe. But the board of directors urge me to introduce a central
> 'data warehouse' on Oracle. Experts say, that's what all companies
> need
> nowadays!"
> - "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',
> all
> 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
> Crystal
> 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
> you!
> 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
> statistics
> 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
> scale?"
> "You are fired!"
> Just my 2ct.
> Have fun,
> Guido Stepken
> --8<---------------cut here---------------end--------------->8---
> -- Benjamin L. Russell

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