Pink Plane vs Blue Plane

Bijan Parsia bparsia at
Thu Feb 13 04:20:26 UTC 2003

On Wed, 12 Feb 2003, Steven Swerling wrote:
> To have a tension between the "Pink Plane" and the "Blue Plane" in

[side note: I'm not sure if I think "the problem" is this tensin, or even
whether I believe in Pink 'n' Blue anymore]

> Squeak, you would need a "Blue Plane" to begin with, and there isn't
> one.

Sure there is. There is a classic Smalltalk-80 blue-book system with a
state of the (1984-88) art MVC windowing system with a full IDE
(and if some bit of it is broke in 3.x, roll back as far as 1.18 if you
have to; all the code is there).

Oh, it's not a modern ANSI Smalltalk system with a package system
MVP...well, few things are. Oh, it's not a industrial strength, super
robust, business app focused one of those either. Oh yeah.

But those are definite of the Blue Plane, are they? They are vectors *on*
the Blue Plane. What Squeak had already is such a vector. Some of the
newer bits (ah, I remember when it went Pluggable) are somewhat longer
vectors. Some of the newer bits are kind of hacky or incomplete, but the
plane is still there.

>  No, the tension is only on the Squeak list, where for years now
> people crop up requesting

Of whom, exactly? Oh yeah, "the community". Bit pushy, eh? I notice that
when some of these things are actually provided, they are not picked up
and maintained/supported/used by many of the "requestors" (BobsUI is a
nice counterexample, though I don't know if the folks who've evolved it
were "requestors").

I'm more impressed with the "providers", myself.

> blue plane things (blue plane widgets, child
> windows and separate system windows, small deliverable images, too name
> some).

And there hath been providers of all of these (Zurgle, Cheese, and various
shrinking efforts come to mind). Oh, these don't exactly fit your needs in
every respect in a generic, supported way? Uhm...

And the ANSI classes which are definitely a work of heroism.

> These requests often turn the Pink Planers red, and so provoke a
> genuinely hostile (or more often, condescending) response.

And it *never* has a *thing* to do with the provocataurs? :)

Let me note that I've been in favor, over the years, of ripping out lots
of bits (sockets come to mind, the parse tree is another). I've even
sometimes done my little bit (with was insufficient) to push such things
along. That they didn't get further, faster, sooner is most properly my
own failing than "the Pink Planers".

There have been bolder and more complete efforts that "got lost in the
shuffle" (or are still "waiting" for inclusion, Flow and MorphicWrappers
come to mind; Modules, too). But, y'know what? It's damn hard.
Documentation is damn hard. And it's not all neglect by SqC by any strech
(Modules made it in!, er..and out :().

Also, there are Other Smalltalks (and other systems). Many supported
commercially (with free or NC versions). Many being much smaller with less
history and fewer cooks (and thus more coherence). I mention this because
if Squeak doesn't meet your needs, and the way its going (in fits and
starts and weird directions) isn't making you happy, please don't suffer!
No one was fired for not using Squeak, and, alas, few have been hired :)

> There have
> been some valiant attempts in the Blue plane during that time,

And solid progress, I think, too. Is Balloon Blue plane? Exceptions (which
had it's fraught experience)? Block Closures (oh yeah, not *quite* in yet,
GO ANTHONY!)? VM speedups (and various tweaks, like named primitives)?
Postscript generation?

> but the
> general direction that Squeak has taken for the last few years has taken
> us further away from having a Blue Plane,

For that to be true, wouldn't we have to rip out the Blue Plane? That
hasn't happen. The planes are, presumably, orthoganal. Thus one can cast a
shadow on the other, but it doesn't *eliminate* the other.

> to make it more like eToys, to
> have an image more and more addled with osteo-pink-plane-itus.

Eh. Addled with stuff, but we've just left any useful metaphor, IMHO.

I don't see blaming the Pinkos as being any more plausible as blaming the
Blue-Pink rivalry. Squeak is a big, old, evolved system. It's got cruft.
It's got momentum. It's got malleability and fragility and a weird sort of

> Make
> Morphic *more* like eToys?! Oh how little that idea appeals. The Pink
> Plane is a plain old pain. understanding is the Morphic is Pretty in Pink, too, all by its
little Self. So to complain about eToys Pinkery while embracing Morphic is
a twee inconsistent. Maybe you just don't like eToys?

> I have no interest in changing the world by inventing revolutionary new
> GUIs, or going on any other quixotic programming adventure. There are
> far better ways.


> I want to be able to take the little applets I wrote
> and share them with other photographers -- worldwide, there may be 10
> other photographers who would want them, ballpark figure. Or to share
> the little app for learning Turkish vocabulary -- 5 people max might use
> it.

It can be somewhat tedioius to do this is Squeak in the neatest possible
way, but this seems totally, sensibly feasible to me, by you, with no
external help, assuming some serious effort. Or you could buy a Smalltalk
(or use VisualWorks NC). I don't think you'll find all your problems gone
though. Alas.

>  Not many more, I'm not talking about revolution here. I'm talking
> about sharing a few humble little tools with a few other people who
> don't happen to be programmers, or students learning how to program. And
> I want to give them the program in a vernacular that they understand,
> the one that has evolved over the last 25 years or so, the simple and
> flawed WIMP, because they don't want to use the GUI to change the world
> either.

Well, you're "stuck" with SqueakWimp, but it's there, all pinkness aside.

> For personal reasons (politics), I would like it to use an open
> source language.

And it gets back to that very important point: Personal use. Ideally,
that's what Squeak *should* be all about: an equisite personal system with
full transparency. Alas, it looks like most of the places I inhabit: piles
of papers, books, the odd cat...

> And because I don't want to spend every bit of my free
> time programming, I'd like it to be in Smalltalk. Hence Squeak, which I
> use in spite all the Pink Plane insanity.

But I really don't understand. You can build straightforward apps using
the pluggablefoo classes. Add BobsUI and you get a bit further. Enhance
BobsUI and you're probably most of the way there. Become expert with this
fairly small set of classes/tools and you can enhance them in nice, small
stepwise ways. Ok, you might also get the hang of stripping, though you
probably could just build off one of the standard shrunk images until the
relief efforts are complete.

(Some things are Just Plain Hard. Multiple OS Windows. Hard and rather
undesirable from many people's point of view, from sheer os portability

> The squeak image is addled with the tedious Pink plane. Let's hope
> SqueakMap can help. Maybe the idea of a NewMorph tree will progress to
> rumors and realities, how sweet that would be. For those that make
> Squeak and Morphic *more* like eToys, a plaintive cry from my Plane to
> yours: please do so in a way that makes it possible to share the Squeak
> world with those that don't, you're making us very Blue.

I'm feeling the almost overpowering urge to scoff at your plaint. Ok, I
give in: Scoff scoff. There are only two places where I see you "blocked":
Shrinking (where wacky dependancies make things Tough All Over), and
multi-system windows (whih are JPH), and they seem handlable, with some
pain, right now and I fail to see how Pink stuff affects you.

Just thought I'd hit one for the Old Condescending Team.

OTOH, there seems to be a lot of, well, overwhelming energy for Getting
Cleanups Done. Yay. And even lots of energy for Writing Documentation.
These things are hard to do, period. They are harder to do well, over
time, in the face of change from heterogeous everything (people, code,
efforts, interest). They are hard to do and still have fun (of the goofing
around sort).

Bijan "Not Squeaking Nearly Enough but Still Managing to Winge" Parsia.

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