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

Michael Latta lattam at
Thu May 11 23:42:16 UTC 2006

My comment on Visual Works was referring to 7.4.  The UI looks like Windows
2000 gunmetal gray.  I have not looked at it under OS/X yet.  I agree that
the Squeak UI takes some getting used to.  In particular the set of targets
on the window are not obviously available.  But, then all the Smalltalk UIs
rely on mouse buttons to trigger menus or other UI to issue commands.  It
does look like Dolphin can look the slickest, but I have explored it the


As a developer I do not like the VW or Dolphin browsers nearly as well as
the traditional system browser.  Tree controls are nasty things that require
a very accurate mouse click to access, and produce very long lists of items.
Then again in Eclipse I basically never use a browser but always do the
equivalent of "find class" to locate classes.  The use of namespaces in VW
seems a bit kludgy, and has only limited value over a set of prefix letters.
Using namespaces in Java where the same class name is shared is a royal
pain.  It is far better to have unique names.






From: squeak-dev-bounces at
[mailto:squeak-dev-bounces at] On Behalf Of Mike
Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2006 4:15 PM
To: The general-purpose Squeak developers list
Subject: Re: Smalltalk: Requiem or Resurgence? {Dr. Dobb's Journal
(05/06/06) Chan, Jeremy}


I think that the VW UI looks quite good under Windows and Mac OS.  It has
also had many changes to the look and the tools as it has progressed from
version to version.  Look at 7.* compared to 5i.4  and 3.0.


Squeak on the other hand looks wierd on all platforms with no sign of
change.  I am dedicated Smalltalker and Squeak's UI is a huge barrier for
entry for me.  I can't imagine that any non-smalltalker would see it and
like it.  It's strengths are far greater than it's weaknesses but it takes a
certain level of proficiency to finally realize that. 


I think dolphin has the look that makes it easier for people to want to look


We shouldn't judge books by their cover, but everyone does.  That's totally
normal.  Even if it has a 350 under the hood, who wants to drive a rusted
out chevy nova?  Or who wants a ferrari painted with a bunch of wierd random


Getting a little sex appeal, together with the amazingly cool Smalltalk
features would make a huge difference in drawing new users.  Look at Apple
for example.  Why buy an ipod or a mac when they cost more for the same
functions.  Because you like using them.  It is a pleasure to see the great


We always say how if you don't like how squeak looks you can change it.  But
why not make it handsome from the get go and let the guys who want it ugly
change it?




On 5/11/06, Michael Latta <lattam at> wrote: 

I really do not have an issue with the Squeak UI.  It is different from the
platform UI but seems reasonably well implemented and such.  The size of 
scroll bars and borders is a bit small for my taste and eyes these days.
But, since this is Smalltalk I can always change them!

Mostly I was referring to the perception of Smalltalk as a language/system
that had its day and was on the decline.  That is generally the response I 
get when mentioning it to those that have not actually used it on a project,
or who have been converted to the mainstream of Java or .Net.

The VisualWorks UI is a bit dated and still has the annoying 10 year old bug

of not always repainting windows properly.  That bug alone makes it look


-----Original Message-----
From: squeak-dev-bounces at 
[mailto:squeak-dev-bounces at] On Behalf Of Bob Erb
Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2006 3:03 PM
To: The general-purpose Squeak developers list 
Subject: Re: Smalltalk: Requiem or Resurgence? {Dr. Dobb's Journal
(05/06/06) Chan, Jeremy}

On 5/10/06, Michael Latta <lattam at> wrote:

> 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.

The out-of-the-box UI is very old-fashioned; quaint, with the mousey
eyes, and the little window with the balloon, and the quirky colors. Maybe 
a slick update -- for programmers, rather than kids -- would help dispell
the "old" image. Maybe LCARS . . . :-)

- Bob

Mike Hales
Engineering Manager 

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