Smalltalk: Requiem or Resurgence? {Dr. Dobb's Journal (05/06/06) Chan, Jeremy}

Michael Latta lattam at
Wed May 10 21:28:30 UTC 2006

Yes Smalltalk is a living system, and supports mutation far better than
other systems.  In Smalltalk to change the definition of a class like
Customer you just change it.  In Java you recompile it, stop the old server,
start the new one, and add all the logic to migrate instances in the
database from the old to the new format, implement a different serialization
file format, or such.  Because all other systems start with a clean slate
persistent data must be stored in a non-object separate form as data, and
the objects reconstituted from that.

I think where Smalltalk lost is in not getting the difference in perspective
and its benefits out.  While many even in the Smalltalk community disparage
become: it is fundamental to many of the benefits in Smalltalk. The ability
to adapt objects in-flight, to update execution contexts, to update existing
object instances, to transform a small integer to a large integer
transparently.  Just as Lisp, APL, or other "niche" languages require
thinking about programming differently, Smalltalk does as well.  The OO
aspect of Smalltalk is a small part of the value, but is what gets all the
press time.

Unfortunately these days there needs to be either a large benefactor or a
strong grass-roots effort to get a technology going.  Smalltalk never really
had a benefactor, and the grass roots support is not getting a lot of
projects started.  While Squeak can do far more than Ruby or Python, they
get much more press.  In part this is because Smalltalk is seen as old.  We
need to get the message out that there are a lot of aspects to Smalltalk
that have not been moved to the current crop of "OO" languages.  We also
need to get some good performance comparisons (time and space) comparing
modern Smalltalk to other "scripting" or "dynamic" languages.  I bet
comparing to .Net 2.0 would be an interesting space / time comparison as


-----Original Message-----
From: squeak-dev-bounces at
[mailto:squeak-dev-bounces at] On Behalf Of Lic.
Edgar J. De Cleene
Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 1:47 PM
To: squeakdev
Subject: Re: Smalltalk: Requiem or Resurgence? {Dr. Dobb's Journal
(05/06/06) Chan, Jeremy}

Klaus D. Witzel puso en su mail :

> Quote:
> Jonah Group principal consultant Jeremy Chan cannot verify a resurgence in
> the use of the Smalltalk object-oriented language as indicated by Georg
> Heeg at the recent Smalltalk Solutions Conference, noting that none of his
> company's customer requests exhibit a desire for Smalltalk. Chan writes
> that Smalltalk's status as a OO language does not really provide an
> explanation of why it might be superior to other OO languages, and why,
> given such alleged superiority, it has been displaced by the likes of Java
> and C# as the most preferred language for enterprises in the last decade.
> "This is the essence of the Smalltalk Paradox," Chan says. The author
> reasons that developers may have difficulty relating Smalltalk's
> programming concepts, presented by defining the language's five principal
> vocabulary terms (object, message, class, instance, and method), to
> something else they already know. The vocabulary defines four rules of the
> language: All things are objects; all objects represent instances of some
> class; objects perform tasks by sending messages; and messages are
> deployed via methods. Chan attributes Smalltalk's lack of popularity to
> several factors, including the defensive posture Smalltalk developers
> assume when the language's superiority is questioned, and the absence of a
> major industry backer with the marketing muscle to facilitate Smalltalk's
> mainstream penetration. The author believes the Smalltalk community would
> receive a significant boost by attracting outsiders and discussing
> collaboration.
> Unquote.
Well, some people think what only 3 % of programmers have what Smalltalk

So , is not surprise what the others 97% use other not living systems .

Or maybe the difference is just this. A Smalltalk image is a living system
and IMHO no other could claim this was true.


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