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

Michael Latta lattam at
Fri May 12 16:25:46 UTC 2006

You can definitely distribute an installer that has the VM and required
files to run a Squeak image on a machine that has never seen Squeak before.

I have found that most users do not care that much if the widgets look the
same as the OS as long as they look reasonably good, and behave predictably.
There are a bunch of Java applications out there that do not look native
either.  It would be more helpful if the top level Squeak windows were top
level OS windows, but even that can be OK if the entire Squeak window is
thought of as a single MDI application rather than as separate
applications/windows.  Dialog boxes are more of an issue since the Squeak
dialogs have very low contrast to the windows around them and do not appear
separate from the main Squeak window.  I have not tried it yet, but it may
be possible to open multiple "desktop" windows in one image.  That would
give the application control of multiple native windows and all would be


-----Original Message-----
From: squeak-dev-bounces at
[mailto:squeak-dev-bounces at] On Behalf Of Charles
D Hixson
Sent: Friday, May 12, 2006 9:15 AM
To: The general-purpose Squeak developers list
Subject: Re: Smalltalk: Requiem or Resurgence? {Dr. Dobb's Journal
(05/06/06) Chan, Jeremy}

goran at wrote:
> Hi!
> I am not really arguing here - just mentioning some pointers about these
> bullets that might be interesting to hear about:
> Kendall Shaw <queshaw at> wrote:
>> If your program doesn't look exactly like every other program and use 
>> exactly the same procedure they've had to use for every program, then 
>> game over, you might as well not have even bothered to write the program.
>> In squeak, the controls don't look or behave like the other controls a 
>> user will use on their computer, so game over, you might as well not 
>> have even bothered to write the program.
The most recent version appears to be a year old.  0.4.1  It isn't
marked as supporting Linux yet. ... well, except Ubuntu, and it's the
first release for it.
> ...or just use Dolphin for win32 apps - it is really nice for that.
> Or turn the app into a localhost webapp, like we are currently doing
> with the issue tracker we are writing.
Dolphin might be OK, but I'm doing all my development on Linux...for
which there *is* no Dolphin.  Squeak is very nice, but if one can't
easily create a distributable piece of software, it's viability as a
development platform is ... limited.  I had thought that Squeak could
compile it's code to C.
> ...
> regards, Göran
This should be solvable.  One plausible method would be to create a
"live distribution" of Squeak-minimal that could self-install on any
(major) OS, and then make it easy to modify...including a scripted
installation of files from SqueakMap.  It's true that the resulting
applications would be "rather large", but that's much less of a problem
than it used to be, and the alternatives aren't great.  (Well,
compilation to C would be better, but I'm presuming that this is

As to the "controls" issue... how much of an issue that is depends on
your audience.  It also depends on how valuable they find your
application.  "Native" appearing controls *are* a definite plus, and no
two ways about it, but they aren't necessarily a determining factor, not
if the controls you use are any good.  (That said, if wxsqueak *is*
successful, it would be another big plus.)

My point of view:  I'm a Squeak newbie.  I'm still getting the hang of
the language, and haven't yet delved into GUI creation.  Squeak seems a
very promising development environment...but possibly only for
prototypes.  The big problem would be getting programs developed in
Squeak made accessible to people who don't already have Squeak
installed.  The apparence of the controls is a relatively minor
consideration.  HTML subterfuges are unsatisfactory as a general
solution, though they may work well in many special cases.  I'm
currently planning on learning Squeak as a prototyping environment,
while waiting for alternatives ... alternatives which *would* allow the
programs to be readily distributed ... to mature.  Of course, a better
answer would be if Squeak itself were to become that "alternative" (or,
possibly, for me to discover that I already CAN do that in Squeak), but
even if it doesn't I expect to prototype in it.

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