[squeak-dev] Re: package universes, sake/packages, (first time) user experiences, etc.

Greg A. Woods; Planix, Inc. woods at planix.ca
Fri Dec 5 19:32:29 UTC 2008

I'm glad I'm keeping this topic alive with my bug reports!  :-)

I must say though that the underlying complexity that shows up here  
mystifies me somewhat.  I'm guessing there's some kind of politics  
under the hood that I'm not fully aware of.

The basic problem for me is that I need the default package management  
tool, however it might work under the hood, to actually work reliably,  
110%, all the time for everyone.

I.e. there's a button for the user to press in the default 3.10.2-7179- 
basic package which starts the process and I think it's essential that  
everything from there work 110%, even if it means that what's  
available lags somewhat behind the latest and greatest of what's  

Also essential is a clean and safe way of upgrading installed  
packages.  Default error handlers need to be in place to cleanly and  
safely back out any attempted upgrades which encounter any errors or  
conflicts.  It would also be nice to have a de-installer and cleanup  
tools in the package manager too.  Sure one can always start with a  
fresh image and load everything still wanted from scratch, including  
one's own local change sets, etc., and doing so has some of its own  
advantages, but for beginners and _end_ users an uninstaller is pretty  
much a necessary feature of any package management subsystem.

The consequences of not having 110% perfection in the initial user  
experience of loading new packages into the now stripped down basic  
Squeak image means skeptical users will be driven away in droves.

Perhaps it would be better to return to a form of the old pre-loaded  
bloated image, but this time adorn it with tools that would facilitate  
_unloading_ of unwanted packages by those who want to reduce the  
bloat.  The last time I forayed with any dedication into the world of  
Squeak I was actually very happy to have a complete stable  
distribution image that came with all the available tools and toys  
already installed and tested.  It meant I could jump right in and play  
or work with anything and everything.  Now with 3.10 it's almost three  
weeks since I tried to "upgrade" and I'm still struggling.  I hate to  
think what any more naive user than I would feel about this experience.

There are problems with the pre-loaded image though -- looking at  
what's in the dev image now makes me want to avoid it because it  
contains some stuff I don't want, stuff which so far as I understand  
actually changes too much about the environment over and above the  
default "basic" configuration which want to work with.

Squeak definitely needs a good strong leader, or at least a cohesive  
leadership, with a good and hopefully popular vision of where the core  
is going and how it's going to get there, and I think now with the  
"basic" default image being one without everything pre-loaded this  
vision has to stretch out over the basic package management issues too.

					Greg A. Woods; Planix, Inc.
					<woods at planix.ca>

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