How does a newbie get past the feeling thay he is trying to understand an elephant whilst looking through a keyhole?

Roel Wuyts Roel.Wuyts at
Mon May 1 07:03:13 UTC 2006


As other people mentioned, getting started with Smalltalk is the  
toughest part (unlike most scripting languages like php, where it is  
the opposite -- try to get some real work done after an initial  
period of wonder and everything-goes).

What might help is:
1) (as was already mentions) : try to fix a goal. What do you want to  
learn about first ? Morphic (then build a kind of GUI application),  
network library (write a newsfeed client), ...

2) you might want to use tools like eCompletion or RoelTyper to  
figure out some dependencies between classes.

3) you might want to use the StarBrowser so that you can keep some of  
the classes that interest you in classifications. For me this helps  
sometimes to build my own structure for understanding code.

Note that all of these approaches are bottom-up. I second the need  
for top-down information. What I planned to do some years back was to  
launch the StarBrowser with some beginner classifications that for  
example contain some of the most used collections, some Morphic  
classes, etc.

On 29 Apr 2006, at 13:55, Stephen Davies wrote:

> Hi,
> I'm trying to get familiar with Squeak.  I used Smalltalk/V way back,
> have and read and understand the Smalltalk 80 book, so it's not
> completely new to me....
> But Squeak is so much bigger.  I'm really struggling to get an overall
> sense of the beast - I can't see the wood for the trees and for me, at
> least, the environment seems to contribute to that because of the
> method-by-method interface to the code seems to make it harder to get
> the big picture.  Methods are presented in alphabetical order, without
> much clue as to how they relate.  Similarly for classes.
> Are there any pointers/suggestions?  I feel like I'm missing some tool
> I don't know about.  It's great that you can see everything, but
> understanding for me would be aided with some sort of "gradual
> revelation"; a way to replace all the details of a class or bunch of
> classes with conceptual documentation - showing in a screen or two the
> overall story of that class's purpose and place in the system.  And a
> way to dip under that to the implementation as needed.
> Any comments or suggestions for me?
> Thanks,
> Steve Davies

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