2nd monthly community report!

goran.hultgren at bluefish.se goran.hultgren at bluefish.se
Mon Apr 7 12:31:48 UTC 2003

Monthly Squeak community report, 2003-03-11 - 2003-04-07

NOTE: This is a report based mostly on my personal view on what is going
on, please remember that. I may for example simply be wrong about stuff
or miss things - it has been known to happen. ;-) I/we haven't decided
on a format for these reports, this time I am testing a narrative style
(much inspired by the Debian Weekly News but without the urls - didn't
have time for those). Content is 99% extracted from the mailinglist.

NOTE 2: The basic idea behind these reports is to make it easier for us
all to know what we are doing and where we are heading.

Welcome to the second monthly report on the Squeak community!

Göran (me that is) wrote up and posted a draft on the "Squeak mini-FAQ".
It was mostly met with constructive responses and even though many
thought this should be available on www.squeak.org (we can put a link
there) it will probably end up as a page on the Squeak Swiki with a
script autoposting it once a month to the list. This way it is easily
edited just like the bigger FAQ.

A little thread discussed different Graph implementations (think Graphs
as in Collections, not graphics) and there was an idea to try to
implement a common base since several people obviously had code for this
- we will see what happens.

Jerry Balzano started a thread about how eToys (and perhaps to some
extent Squeak) is meant to be learned and taught by teachers. Jerry
managed to put words to the frustration that many feel in this regard
and the replies from among others Alan Kay did make things fall a bit
more into place.

Alexandre Bergel posted about his work on a new module system called
"Classbox Model". Not too much discussion arose from it, but people are
probably waiting for it to become usable before taking a closer look. It
does sound interesting. See http://scgwiki.iam.unibe.ch:8080/SCG/559

Many threads discussed the upcoming layered model for Squeak 3.6 and
beyond. As all should know by now Squeak 3.6 will be the first release
that actually is split into packages. Of course, we will start small but
this does mean that official Squeak will not simply consist of a
monolithic image. Instead Squeak is moving towards a small kernel image
on top of which several Squeak packages can be installed. All these
packages will be sorted into three layers - minimal, basic, full. 
The names for these three layers have been under long discussions and
the three I just used above are just... three of them. :-) I have no
idea which names we should try to settle on. But we do seem to have
settled on having these three layers, roughly what they should contain,
the dependency rules for them and a few other things.

We also discussed the pipeline model used in the Linux distribution
Debian and how those concepts could work for Squeak. Nothing decided and
our processes will need to mature more until we can say if it would be
something to strive for.

Doug Way announced the release plan for version 3.5 and explained why we
are doing a new release so shortly after version 3.4. This was because a
few BUGs needed correction and we also wanted to try the new harvesting
model and test the release process. The planned release date was set to
4th april.

The 3.5 plan panned out pretty good into beta and gamma but got hung in
the final days due to the so called "WeakArray bug" - which eventually
actually was discovered to be really old. Due to other factors the
release was given one more week anyway so 3.5 *will* be released on
friday the 11th april. And that's a promise. :-) It will also be
accompanied with a rough plan on what version 3.6 will bring which in
turn is planned to be released 1st of August.

The oldtimers on the list got a bit sentimentally carried away and
started trading warstories about ancient mythical Smalltalk hardware.
:-) It all started with some questions on the basic Squeak history
answered promptly by Alan Kay and eventually turned into a discovery
tour on different available processors and hardware today suitable for
building Smalltalk machines.

The Guides announced their support for having SCG (the guys in Berne) as
the Steward of the kernel. It was not a big deal but some of us Guides
thought it would be a good thing to show our support in a more official

MCP (Morphic Cleanup Project) reported some progress and they are really
digging into Morphic. Assumably a lot of that work will go into 3.6.

KCP is also starting to produce results and this started a discussion
about how to handle their contributions through harvesting. Daniel and
Stéphane have exchanged quite a bit of postings and hopefully they are
coming to some form of an agreement.

Harvesting is hard and at the same time as we are trying to establish a
process for this that can scale and move smoothly with as little stress
on the harvesters as possible, the KCP team also needs a process that
doesn't slow them down too much. I think the last word was that we will
go forward and see how it works.

Diego Gomez Deck started doing some really good looking visual
improvements to windows and menues in Morphic. Very nice work! Generated
a lot of traffic on the list which shows people are indeed interested in
how things look.

Anthony Hannan announced a new version of Compiler using (among other
things) SmaCC (Smalltalk Compiler Compiler) internally and then "all
hell broke loose" :-) due to the fact that we ended up discussing
licenses. And that subject is a dead sure list-killer! The discussion
did turn up a whole bunch of interesting facts though and I think we
will *at the very least* compile all that into the FAQ. I think more is
to be expected on the subject, the discussion has moved over to the
SqF-list where it probably belongs. If anything more decisive is
concluded it will of course be posted on squeak-dev for feedback.

A thread about some user interface behaviour of the package loader (the
combination of the filters obviously tend to confuse in some situations
- and some people aren't even aware of the filters) turned into a thread
about user interface design. I assume we will revisit these details when
I get SM1.1 working, since that will lead to changes in the package
loader anyway.

And to round this monthly report off - a series of short anouncements in
no particular order (updates to existing packages not included):

- New SUnit 3.1 released now available on SourceForge
- A new Swedish :-) free Smalltalk book on Stephane's book site
- Bryce Kampjes gives us a taste of a new compiler called Exupery
written in pure Squeak that is meant to generate native machine code
- A serial terminal implementation by Ned building on top of Ians work
- Code for locking down an image for end usage by Ned

...and finally the new Squeak 3.4 CD by Marcus Denker.

(Note that I may have missed some cool stuff, in that case - simply
reply and add!)

Well, over and out for another month of intense Squeaking!

regards, Göran & the other Guides

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