[squeak-dev] Fork Proposal: Cuis & Killer Apps.

Casey Ransberger casey.obrien.r at gmail.com
Wed Sep 7 19:27:39 UTC 2011

Inline below.

On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 9:52 AM, Overcomer Man <overcomer.man at gmail.com>wrote:

> I suggest a new fork


> or possibly a new orientation for the next Squeak release:
> Adopt Cuis as the core image and focus on killer applications to attract
> new Smalltalk users.

+1. If I was allowed to do +100, you'd have that in a heartbeat:)

> Thousands of downloads are recorded on CNet for simple apps like a voice
> recorder.
> They could all be using and learning Smalltalk.  Same for many other
> applications.
> That would help make Smalltalk popular again.

:D I like the way you think!

> Recently I found Squeak / Cuis contains many Sound classes.  So I wrote up
> an email suggesting it to a community college teacher friend who had asked
> for a sound recorder.  Imagine my embarrassment when I found the files
> Squeak supports doesn't include .mp3.

Juan, I think it's time to bring out your synth, my friend! So .mp3 isn't
necessarily a deal breaker. MPEG should be convertible to WAV, but FWIW,
you're right. Squeak needs a Winamp/XMMS killer. Between this, and a
standards-complient web browser (read: nightmarish rabbit-hole) I can
practically ditch my operating system and live in Squeakland all the time.
Wouldn't that be *radical?*

> Squeak has so much unfinished half starts at programs, why not adopt Juan's
> work to flush the unnecessary, then get started on building a serious
> applications team to build truly useful free code.

Worth pointing out: applications which use Morphic will take real work to
make run over Cuis. Morphic in Cuis is a whole new breed of animal; fast,
lean, beautiful, and completely different from the tangle which many
applications expect to find down there.

> Another example, Roxio is a million dollar software company making a video
> recorder app. which is not as good as an ordinary VCR and not supported
> (they have a staff but try getting any real help).  Squeak could be
> capturing a slice of that market and enticing users to learn Smalltalk!  And
> source code can substitute for most support.

Yes! Redhat sells an open source operating system. We have an operating
system that's actually pretty! Why not Mousehat or something (obviously I'm
not from marketing)? I dig the entrepreneurial angle, Overcomer Man. I've
been thinking about this stuff for years. I dream of a BSD kernel and
nothing else but drivers and Squeak. Web browser is still an issue, but it's
no problem money can't solve.

> Another example, Solid Works is a 3D object drafting program that is simple
> and gets many thousands of users away from AutoDesk.  Can Smalltalk deliver
> most or all of that function with a FFI to openGL and some programming?
>  Certianly!

Have you played with OpenQwaq? It has tools that do some of this stuff in a
very natural way. If we can make these parts loadable packages, the whole
GPL thing becomes a non-issue for end users. Can't go into the core system,
but as a loadable package, everybody wins. I want to see what we can do with
a Cintiq graphics tablet, build ourselves a Robot Draftsman. Long live

> Finally, the one complaint I've heard on the job about Smalltalk is it's
> slow.

Eh... Smalltalk invented fast. Smalltalk's little sister, Self, invented
*very fast*. JIT and polymorphic inline caches make this a virtual
non-issue. And you can optimize for whatever you want because you control
the vertical, you control the horizontal. See also, L Peter Deutsch, David
Ungar, Eliot Miranda.

We have a fast VM now. This is a non-issue.

I recently added several thousand classes and find simply clicking on the
> class in a browser is now slow to respond.

Hmm. Have you tried using the performance spy to figure out where the
bottleneck is? Generally, most programs spend 80% of their time in 20% of
their code. A Pareto relationship. There is likely something running which
is sending more messages than it needs to be.

How big is that image file, out of curiosity?

> When end-users, not programmers, can type at 80 words a minute and more in
> a C app. or they can be limited to 30 wpm or less in a Smalltalk app. they
> demand C.  The new VM was a good improvement, now try to solve the speed
> issues in the image.

Sure, I mean. Cuis?

> Thanks,
> Kirk Fraser

Kirk, I really enjoyed your spirited comments. While I *do* think you have
some great ideas for new apps, I personally think the best plan is to throw
in on making the apps that Smalltalk programmers presently care a great deal
for (e.g., Seaside) run atop Cuis. This will take a concerted effort.

Cuis is a lovely little system. I find it the most broadly usable Smalltalk
-- certainly better looking than any other (antialiasing goes a long way
with rounded window corners, thanks again Juan) -- and I would love so see
someone experiment with the combination of Spoon and Cuis (to address
Lawson's point.)

Craig, if I wanted to try to Spoon-out Cuis, where would I start?

Casey Ransberger
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