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

Michael Latta lattam at
Fri May 12 20:29:27 UTC 2006

The point is not who's design is better, nor technical issues.  The point is
that from a user of the system the differences in libraries has negative
value.  I do not know or care which is better.  I do know that if I could
take Smalltalk code form one VM to another the market for my work would be
larger.  The way each VM vendor has chosen to head in their own direction
means that they do not build a viable ecosystem.  Each vendor's product
stands alone, and has to build its own ecosystem.  Would it not be better to
share the maintenance burden on at least the core libraries?  Obviously at
this point there are many points where they are too distant to unite again.
But, upon reflection that is probably the largest reason Smalltalk has not
gained as much ground as it deserves.  Squeak certainly started as a
research project where such concerns were not the focus, and has evolved
largely as the users saw fit.  If there was more compatibility however the
VisualWorks ecosystem (Gemstone, and other tools) could be used with Squeak
and Squeak features (Balloon, Connectors) could be used with VW.  I also do
not like the way that VW has chosen to keep dropping "old" features like MVC
support.  As a result code I wrote 10 years ago does not run any longer, and
can not even be loaded to do a port.  At least Squeak has backward
compatible features to a large degree, even if as optional packages.

I do not claim to have a solution for how to move forward, but I did want to
acknowledge that this is a much larger part of the Smalltalk status quo than
I would have seen prior to it being pointed out.  Incompatible libraries,
and libraries that are constantly changing in incompatible ways, cause users
to abandon a platform.  I know one large application (RDD-100) where the
developers complained of having to spend 3/4 of their time keeping up with
image changes for VW.  That is very UN-productive.


-----Original Message-----
From: squeak-dev-bounces at
[mailto:squeak-dev-bounces at] On Behalf Of Andreas
Sent: Friday, May 12, 2006 1:07 PM
To: The general-purpose Squeak developers list
Subject: Re: Smalltalk: Requiem or Resurgence? {Dr. Dobb's Journal
(05/06/06) Chan, Jeremy}

Michael Latta wrote:
> There are some differences based on VM design and VW has chosen to
> the entire way that classes are defined.  But, to a user it should all
> if it is Smalltalk.  The COM integration for example on VW and Dolphin do
> not need to be different, and Squeak did not have to use a different way
> call native methods. 

And how exactly do you know that? Do you know anything at all about how 
the FFI evolved, which tradeoffs were made for what?

   - A.

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