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 07:11:49 UTC 2006

Indeed; this is one of the things I wanted to add to the  
StarBrowser,but never found the time to do. But it coiuld be worth it...

I would add:
1- classification: 'Basic Collections' : Set, Array, String,  
OrderedCollection, SortedCollection (and maybe Stream)
2- classification: 'Basic Enumeration methods' : #do:, #collect:,  
#select:, #detect:ifNone:
3- classification: 'Boolean' : True, False
4- classification: 'Loops and conditions' :  #ifTrue:, ifFalse:,  
ifTrue:ifFalse, ifFalse:ifTrue, #while:do:, ... (some more)
5- classification: 'Interesting objects' : Smalltalk, ??

More suggestions ?

All of these methods/classes should have a comment with some very  
simple examples (I guess quite a lot of these already do).

On 30 Apr 2006, at 22:11, Ralph Johnson wrote:

> Most Smalltalk classes build on a lot of other Smalltalk classes.  
> So, they are hard to understand until you know the classes that  
> they use.
> In fact, you can't print out Object and completely understand it,  
> because it has methods like "inspect" that call a lot of other  
> classes.  It is possible to build the image up from a small base,  
> but it is not done one class at a time.  Each layer is partly new  
> classes and partly adding methods to existing classes.  This is a  
> good thing, not a bad thing, but it makes it harder to learn  
> Smalltalk.
> When an expert teaches Smalltalk, it is like getting a guided tour  
> of a city.  We show just the part of Smalltalk that a beginner is  
> able to understand, and avoid the parts that are confusing until  
> they have the background.  You don't get that by looking at the  
> image.  For example, I tell people to ignore the GUI, the compiler,  
> and all the tools at first.  Just focus on Collection classes and  
> numbers.  We spend several weeks with just the core classes before  
> we move on to other things.  The GUI is way more cool, but I think  
> students learn better if you ignore it at first.
> Unfortunately, one of the disadvantages of Smalltalk over Java is  
> that it is harder to learn on your own.  It is not hard to learn  
> with a guide, but newcomers don't know what to look at and what to  
> ignore.  It would help to have a beginners browser that hid most of  
> the classes that beginners want to ignore anyway.
> -Ralph Johnson

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