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

stéphane ducasse ducasse at
Mon May 1 22:15:41 UTC 2006

On 1 mai 06, at 17:36, Chris Muller wrote:

> I would like to add the Tracing Messages Browser to this list.   
> This browser is great for browsing the flow of code that cuts  
> across classes in various packages.  You end up with a single  
> window showing the flow of execution instead of 57 windows.

Where is that browser?

> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Roel Wuyts <Roel.Wuyts at>
> To: The general-purpose Squeak developers list <squeak- 
> dev at>
> Sent: Monday, May 1, 2006 2:05:09 AM
> Subject: Re: How does a newbie get past the feeling thay he is  
> trying to understand an elephant whilst looking through a keyhole?
> Hello,
> 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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