[Seaside] Should I become a Seasider?

Pat Maddox patmaddox at me.com
Sun Apr 10 04:06:02 UTC 2011

On Apr 8, 2011, at 2:53 PM, Ralph Boland wrote:

> This post is about making a living as a web developer using Seaside.
> I am an unemployed software developer in Calgary (1,000,000 people),
> Alberta, Canada.
> I have used Squeak for years but I have found no Smalltalk work in Calgary
> and in fact know of only one small company in Calgary that uses Smalltalk.
> I know very little about Seaside.  My impression is that websites
> developed using
> Seaside are somewhat slower than with other web development tools and that
> Seaside uses more memory (I assume on the server side) than other web
> development tools.  Nevertheless there are web developers using
> Seaside successfully.
> Are these impressions correct?
> What I am wondering is should I learn Seaside and then attempt to sell my web
> development services in Calgary?  My impression is that:
> 1)  No one in Calgary has ever heard of Seaside so selling my services
> would be difficult.
> 2)  Since I should be able to develop web sites faster using Seaside I
> should be able to
>     offer my services at a discount and hopefully be able to find
> business that way.  But
>     since no one but myself (at least locally) would be able to
> maintain the web sites,
>     potential customers are going to be very shy.
> Are these impressions correct?
> Lets assume I decide to become a web developer (something I know
> almost nothing about)
> using Seaside as my competitive edge. To my knowledge I would be the
> only Seaside
> web developer in Calgary.
> 1)  How long (starting basically from scratch) is it going to take
> before I am competent;
>     or at least competent enough to seek clients?  Assume I am a
> competent Squeak developer.
> 2)  Which version(s) of Smalltalk should I use?
>     I know Squeak and have used Visualworks in the distant past.
> 3)  How screwed will my clients be if my ticker stops unexpectedly.
> Can Seaside developers
>     from outside Calgary pick up the slack for my hypothetical clients?
> 4)  Is there any areas within the web development would that I should
> concentrate on or avoid?
> 5)  Is there any additional software/hardware that I would need other than my
>     home computer (running Ubuntu) and Squeak/Seaside?
>     My resources for investments is very limited.
> Are there other questions that I should have asked?
> Starting a business is generally a tough deal so please don't butter me up
> with glowing reviews of Seaside.

My suggestion is to learn Seaside and use it to build side projects of your own. You've probably got some ideas, and Seaside is the way to go there. The IDE (Pharo) + components + continuations combine to blow everything else out of the water. I say this as a pretty sharp Rails developer - nothing even comes close to development speed in Seaside. That's a big advantage. It gives you free license to experiment with ideas. Also, because everything is smalltalk code and everything is an object, you have a much more flexible, understandable system. Right now I've got some beta users who can benefit from features that probably wouldn't be useful to anyone else...normally I'd say, "Sorry, I'm not building that," but considering that I can build a little component in less than an hour, and plug it in only for their account, it's worth it to me to do it. I haven't been doing this for long, but I'm comfortable customizing a lot more of my app for certain customers, because it's just so easy to do.

I'm using Seaside to build my startup projects because it's a huge technical advantage. I earn money right now by doing contract work, and as much as I'd love to use Seaside in those gigs, I feel like that would be screwing over my clients. They're going to have a hell of a time finding someone to maintain it when I leave.

Building a business of any sort is challenging enough, as you may already know and are definitely about to find out. Don't compound the headaches by throwing a niche technology like Seaside into the mix.


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