[squeak-dev] Re: Meeting Report for 8/18/2010

Hannes Hirzel hannes.hirzel at gmail.com
Wed Aug 25 04:50:23 UTC 2010


I would like to comment on the trigger word "competition" which Pavel
has brought up in connection with Squeak / Etoys / Pharo and Cuis.
Andreas is advocating a discussion which actually promotes the work
and I support this.

1) There is competition - sure - but as a whole it is just a sign of a
healthy eco-system to have Squeak / Etoys / Scratch / Pharo and Cuis
around. I have written this earlier this year when we were asked to
fill in a questionnaire. In fact as a user of a Squeak based Smalltalk
"distribution" or "fork" I am happy that there are alternatives. The
use of these alternatives may vary though.

2) It is probably more precise to speak of coopetition.
<citation>Coopetition or Co-opetition (sometimes spelled
"coopertition"  or "co-opertition") is a neologism  coined to describe
cooperative competition. Coopetition occurs when companies work
together for parts of their business where they do not believe they
have competitive advantage and where they believe they can share
common costs. </citation>

Or maybe we should speak of a 'distributed' development approach or
just having different distributions which share ideas / concepts/
strategies / code snippets and packages. This is reuse on all levels
(analysis, design, implementation, package, methods). A recent example
is the WebClient and the release announcment of Pharo 1.1 for example
states (http://www.pharo-project.org/pharo-download/release-1-1).

<citation>StandardFilestream now performs read-buffering, dramatically
speading up some operations like "Object compileAll" (2x improvement)
as well as various other operations (scanning change lists etc). This
change was taken from Squeak."</citation>

and further down
A new general cleanup protocol has been added. The cleanUp protocol
takes an optional argument to indicate whether we're doing an
aggressive cleanup (which involves deleting projects, change sets, and
possibly other destructive actions) or a more gentle cleanup that's
only supposed to clean out transient caches. This change was taken
from Squeak.

3) Squeak, Etoys, Pharo, Scratch and Cuis have different "missions" so
to say. Or we could say "different customer groups".

As a reminder for the goals of Squeak I would like to mention the
article "Personal Dynamic Media" written in 1977 which is to be found
on http://www.scribd.com/doc/454106/Personal-Dynamic-Media. It is
amazing what was there at that time.

The problem in the past was that Squeak development did not scale in
terms of developers working together and going for forks was the only
reasonable thing to do at that time. But this does not mean that new
approaches are not feasible. Scratch so to say was 'silent' fork. And
at the same time a very successful one. It did not create much noise
on this list. Maybe we should call it an application. In the area of
Squeak these borders are blurred (intentionally) and this might be
part of the causes for these kinds of discussions.

4) Going for a minimal kernel with loadable packages maintained by
various people is actually meant to stimulate "competition". People
will be encouraged to take the minimal kernel and load all kinds of
things on it and distribute the result and create communities around

5) For this to work the kernel has to be minimal in a sense that it
can be managed by a small team. This is the aspect Cuis strongly
promotes and we want to adapt for Squeak. Actually this is not new at
all.  It has been a long standing goal. But for many reasons about
which  we have pondered many times it had not been achieved so far.
Juan has given the real-life proof that it is possible to maintain his
own fork as a single person while at the same time adapting important
changes from elsewhere. In addition he has contributed back to the
main-line Squeak development. From this point of view we should really
de-emphasise the negative aspects of competition.

6) This time we have Andreas, Pavel and Juan for the core, Eliot on
the VM side and Bert for the Etoys link working together. Others are
working on various aspects improving the system. I think this is an
opportunity and there is a real chance of success.

7) As an illustration I did a sketch. (see attached PNG file). I think
the overlap of the distributions is considerable. As a follow up it
would be nice to have some simple statistics like no. of classes per
distribution. Number of classes with identical names across
distributions. As the picture is very rough somebody might post a more
accurate one.




Please note that in the meeting report this thread is about Randal
says that he wants to contact the other Squeak based projects to talk
about a minimal core.
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