Pink Plane vs Blue Plane
Richard A. O'Keefe
ok at cs.otago.ac.nz
Thu Feb 13 01:24:45 UTC 2003
Diego Gomez Deck <squeak-dev at lists.squeakfoundation.org> wrote:
These goals are, imho, incompatible between them. If we want to
see the next shift, let's forget about compatibility, stability,
documentacion, etc. On the other side, if we want to see a
"solid" smalltalk to create "standard" business applications,
let's forget about eToys, Croquet, etc.
I don't think it's a pink-plane vs blue-plane thing at all.
To pervert the metaphor, it doesn't matter what colour the
plane is IF YOU CAN'T BOARD IT.
If I've understood Andreas Raab correctly, he is firmly of the
opinion that EToys is not a rival to a solid framework for building
business applications but, amongst other things, a first draft of
just such a framework, that if you want to build a standard business
application, EToys should be a much faster way to do it.
The way I see it, it's an insider vs outsider thing.
If you are a Morphic/EToys insider, then you *can* do amazing things
and you *can* build business applications that might not be "standard"
(unless you really want them to), but *would* be usable and a pleasure
to use, and you think it's all plain sailing and fun doing so.
If you are a Morphic/EToys outsider (and yes, I've read the Squeak books,
I've read the original Morphic paper, I've even got Self on my machine,
and I've read lots of Morphic tutorials) then you are awed by the amount
of really cool powerful stuff there and frustrated and depressed by the
difficulty of finding out almost anything about how to USE it.
I am still puzzled about what GeeMail thingies are all about; they seem
to have nothing to do with mail, g forces, or the gee-gees. I'm not even
precisely sure what a "playfield" is. Look at the class comment for
Well, what can I say?
Not a good start for programmer documentation.
GeeMail is a scrolling playfield with a text morph
(typically on the left) and room on the right for other morphs
to be placed.
GREAT! Except, of course, that if you were looking for such a thing,
you would never dream that it might be called GeeMail. You'd go looking
The morphs on the right can be linked to text selections on
the left so that they remain positioned beside the pertinent
text as the text is reflowed.
Yes, but HOW?
Probably the best thing is an example and Alan will be making some
Yes, an example would be good, but an example of what one looks like when
it is finished doesn't show you how to *construct* one from the UI or
how to drive it from code. Nor does a promise that there will be some
examples "soon" (presumably written some years ago; I'm looking at a 3.2
system which is what our 3rd year students will see this year) help me to
find examples _now_.
While the GeeMailMorph class comment is only _just_ helpful, it is also
the only class in the Morphic-GeeMail category with _any_ useful class
comment (the one other class that has a class comment basically says
not to use it).
The standard retort to people who need to find something out (I've used
it myself) is "you have the code and a great IDE, go look". But in the
Morphic-GeeMail category, there is only one class whose methods are not
all lumped into 'as yet unclassified', and that is GeeMailMorph itself,
which has no methods. Poking around in this lot trying to figure out
_how_ you can connect a morph to some text is MUCH harder than it really
needs to be.
Oh, and don't tell me "go search the Swiki". Today I can't go off-campus.
Mail's being queued, but as for using a browser to search for stuff, NO
CAN DO. What use is documentation (if it exists at all) you can't get to
when you need it? (So that I can have a life, my home Mac isn't on the
net at all, which makes Swiki documentation permanently inaccessible,
instead of intermittently inaccessible.)
*THIS* is the single biggest problem with Morphic and EToys: the steep
learning curve brought about by the truly dreadful state of documentation.
I have not a clear position on it but if I'm force to choose
I'll choose to work in the next paradigm shift.
If the next paradigm shift isn't any better documented than the last
one (Morphic, EToys) was, then BUGGER it.
I almost never swear. I believe this is the first time I've ever used
a swear-word in e-mail. But here I am, an enthusiastic Smalltalker, a
technophile, keen to play with things and to learn new ways to do things,
and very admiring of Morphic results that I have seen. And I am just so
If only there was something like Brent Welch's Tcl/Tk book for Squeak,
*assuming* a basic knowledge of Smalltalk syntax and Collection classes,
explaining Morphic, EToys, Tiles... A good How-To book with *all* the
information you need, right there in one place. Something you can
actually get up to speed with, without having a veteran insider as your
Someone commented recently that constructing a Morph via the UI was no
use if they couldn't recreate it at will. Well, control-click on the
title bar of a system window, and you'll see "save morph in file" as
one of the options. Once the morph is saved, you can bring up a file
list, find the file, select it, option-click, and the top option is
"load as morph". Amazing stuff. Being able to save an open Browser
in a file and later on bring it back! Awesome. But it requires
persistence in digging and a willingness to put your image in what
_feels_ like extreme hazard to find some of these things.
Of course, if you try this with the "Worlds of Squeak" window, you
get a saved moprh, but the project it points to isn't there any more.
This is not the kind of thing that encourages exploration.
More information about the Squeak-dev