Just some thoughts

Joerg Brunsmann Joerg.Brunsmann at FernUni-Hagen.de
Mon Mar 23 09:22:02 UTC 1998


first of all let me express that Squeak is very cool (there is no other
term) and that the work done so far deserves full respect, if I may say

Anyway, I've been following this mailing list for quite a while now and
inspired by reading 'The Cathedral and the Bazaar' by Eric S. Raymond
and Netscape's 'open-source culture' efforts regarding the Communicator
Source Code Release (http://www.mozilla.org) I get the impression that

       S Q U E A K  N E E D S  C O O R D I N A T I O N !

Why? Ok, Squeak is free and everyone is invited to use Squeak for things
he wants to do with Squeak. But if someone wants to use Squeak as a base
for his own experiments or development he needs a reliable core system
to be ensured of using a high quality starting point. For example, if
I'm tired of using tools like yacc for writing a programming language
parser and I want to use a Smalltalk environment invoking T-Gen as a
parser generator. Since someone asked twice if T-Gen has been ported to
Squeak this is a reasonable szenario. Correct me if I'm wrong but noone
has answered the question yet if T-Gen is ported to Squeak and noone
knows if someone is porting this piece of software to Squeak at the
moment. Perhaps three or four are doing this port in parallel right now;
and of course that would not be what we desire. At least I don't know if
this is the case. This is dissapointing since Squeak and T-Gen are great
pieces of software and they both would benefit from each other. Sadly
enough T-Gen is just one example. Summarizing from my mind I give a not
necessarly complete list of current Squeak projects:
o Core Class Library
o Native Widgets
o Self Booting Squeak
o Double clickable Squeak
o Applications (Draw80, T-Gen, Siren, ...)
o Virtual Machine Hacking
o Platform Porting
o Documentation

Having so many different branches of development (which I will focus
later) it is clear that there is at least some need for coordination.
Given so many excellent and experienced developers (for example, how
many people in the world are able to implement a Windoze Look and Feel
in Smalltalk?) which are involved in the Squeak project the
non-coordination is very annoying.

But where coordination could take place? Who could coordinate? Sorry
guys, but sometimes I read the term 'Squeak central'. If 'Squeak
central' exists it is responsible for development coordination, isn't
it. I fully agree that coordination is rather a time consuming task
which is not done in spare time. Assuming that I demand for volunteers
who think they have time, experience, knowledge and Squeak insights for
doing this. I regret that I can't fullfill any of the above mentioned
request. But let me expand this demand to my squeaking wish list:

1. First of all I want a maintained Web Site (http://www.squeak.org)
which contains up to date information and links for downloading latest
versions for each platform and description of current projects.

2. Downloads should be distinguished between distributions with and
without source code. So the most frequent download without source code
should contain one virtual machine (JIT), one virtual image, one sources
file, one changes file. This is nothing new you say. Right, but in
addition the download should also consist of a directory containing
applications (you can also use the term parcels for that) which are
file-in's for extending the base virtual image for specific needs.
Having said that, I demand a virtual image that only contains the core
Squeak class library. Every user is able to create an image for his own
purpose. For example, I think Morphic is cool but it is very slow. I get
used to the MVC paradigm and I want to stick with that. That means I
have to delete the Morphic framework each time I download a new image.
Why not creating an morphic application which a Squeak user can easily
integrate into his image? I don't give you the huge list of further
applications that could be loaded into a Squeak virtual image; you know
them, don't you?

3. Repeating myself: the virtual image should contain only a core class
library which serves as a base for loadable applications. 

4. Although I get the impression that native widgets don't have high
development priority I think it is annoying that we don't have them
looking at so many differents interface components of contemporary
operating systems.

5. Having native widgets we don't need a self booting Squeak, do we?

6. Porting the most important applications of freely available Smalltalk
code to Squeak. 

7. Platform Porting and Virtual machine hacking should be independently
done by experts having the Windoze branch and the Unix branch. Other
operating systems should be supported as well after new releases for the
main operating systems evolve.

8. Documentation for Virtual Machine Hacking can only be done by those
who are writing the virtual machine, of course. From my point of view,
it is ok, if the core class library is documented as comments in the
source code. Tutorials with examples should be loadable as applications.

I'm sorry, if I misunderstood the concepts and ideas behind Squeak.

Thanks for reading and for your comments.

Have fun,


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