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

Dan Shafer dan at
Wed May 10 22:09:22 UTC 2006

FWIW, my take is that this is a simple problem with no good solution  
other than a major benefactor. And I don't see a major benefactor on  
the horizon.

The problem is defining, explaining, illustrating and evangelizing  
the huge advantages of Smalltalk (Squeak?). Finding and focusing on a  
smallish number of such features and benefits is hard enough. Witness  
the fact that this post mentions "become" as a major feature and in  
all my years in the software biz, I've never once heard it mentioned  
let alone touted. Smalltalk has so many advantages in so many ways  
that just defining its differentiating points is a task.

Two years ago, my friend Kevin Altis was spearheading a project  
called PythonCard, an attempt to create a visual IDE on top of Python  
using wxWidgets (then called wxWindows). He paused the project after  
nearly completing it to a ready state because his feeling was it was  
never going to get a lot of traction until Python itself got better  
known and more widely used. He spent a lot of time in the intervening  
two years evangelizing Smalltalk. And Kevin's good at that. I don't  
think he'd claim that visibility and acceptance of Python is yet at a  
stage where it can be seen and used for what it truly is in a broader  

Smalltalk has that problem in spades. I'm not sure the problem can be  
solved. But I'm also not sure it *needs* to be. There's no real harm  
in using a language viewed as outside the mainstream as long as  
there's a loyal base of users enhancing, extending and supporting it,  
is there? We don't need Corporate America to adopt Squeak and then  
try to fence it in, standardize it, confine it, define it, package it  
and market it. For those who use it to create viable solutions to  
problems they or their customers face, it's a secret weapon. It's a  
WMD - Weapon of 'Mazing Development!



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