[Seaside] OSCON report

Avi Bryant avi.bryant at gmail.com
Sun Jul 30 00:39:59 UTC 2006

Since this StOR thread seems to be about reaching an audience we  
haven't had before, it's probably worth mentioning what I've been up  
to for the last week.

I've just returned from the O'Reilly's open source OSCON conference.   
I gave a talk on Seaside very intentionally angled not towards  
convincing people to jump ship from Python/Perl/Rails etc, but rather  
towards getting them to consider some of the basic technologies -  
like the the Canvas, Component, Callback and Continuation model (hm,  
never noticed all those C's before) - for use in their environment of  
choice.  However, interest was high enough that:

- I gave a 45 minute talk to a packed room (some good photos at  
- followed by about 30 minutes of Q&A with most people still in the room
- followed by 3 hours of conversation with a large group at dinner  
about Seaside and Smalltalk
- followed by a subset of that group tracking me down first thing the  
next morning and making me spend another couple of hours doing a  
Squeak demo

What I found is that a) a huge number of these people have tried  
Squeak before, and that b) they were all very excited by what they  
saw in my (very simple) demo, but none of them had been able to make  
the journey themselves from the one to the other - that is, it was  
impossible for them to just download a Squeak image and, with no  
prior Smalltalk experience, find their way through a Hello World  
Seaside app.  So they decided Squeak wasn't for them.  There's also a  
huge amount of confusion and disinformation about the state of things  
like version control: essentially everyone seems to believe that the  
image is the only way to distribute Smalltalk code, and is  
understandably leery of this.

I sensed enough goodwill, and got enough concrete offers to publish  
articles/books/etc, to think that the opportunity is there to get a  
mainstream audience for Seaside *if* (and this is a fairly large if)  
we want it and have the resources to put into it.  What it would  
take, I think, is a custom Squeak distribution and tutorial/ 
screencast that was aimed at a non-Smalltalk audience.  It would need  
to cover:

- The browser
- The workspace
- Saving, loading, and merging in Monticello
- The basics of Seaside (a revamped "Walk on the Seaside" tutorial  
would be fine)

An ActiveRecord-like simple O/R framework would certainly help too,  
but I think the above is a higher priority.

Incidentally, I was asked by a few people at the conference how big  
the Seaside community was, and I was very pleased to be able to say  
"well, I almost never post to the list anymore, because other people  
are doing all the question answering, discussing, and committing".   
That's pretty cool, and an important threshold to cross, I think.


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