[squeak-dev] Squeak, Tonel, and the Tonel standard

Martin McClure martin at hand2mouse.com
Wed Aug 26 19:20:02 UTC 2020

Hi all,

Dale let me know this morning that Tonel was being discussed on 
Squeak-dev.  I beg your pardon for arriving late.

As Dale said, I'm the minder of the Tonel 1.0 standard, which is 
currently in draft, with initial feedback from some of the folks who 
have implemented or are interested in implementing Tonel for their 
Smalltalk dialect.

I'm interested in getting feedback from *all* dialects who are 
interested in using Tonel. I hope that the Squeak community will 

Tonel started as a collaboration between Pharo (primarily Esteban 
Lorenzano) and GemTalk (primarily me), but the intent has always been to 
have a format that can be used in common between *all* dialects of 
Smalltalk. The fundamental shape of Tonel is probably not going to 
change at this point, but feedback so far is likely to result in some 
changes to the draft standard.

Note that Tonel as currently implemented by Pharo is a bit different 
from standard Tonel. Pharo has agreed to make several changes to the 
format to standardize it. I'm not sure what the status of those changes 
within the Pharo project. The GemStone implementation is closer to the 
standard, though not fully there yet.

I encourage the Squeak community to consider whether coding to the 
standard early on might be a desirable direction. As Dale explained, the 
standard does allow for dialect-specific properties, so adding 
timestamps probably doesn't require any changes to the spec.

I'd like it If a few folks from the community would volunteer to give 
the spec a careful read-through and comment. It's a bit of a read (and 
was quite a bit of effort to write!) so I won't post the draft on the 
list, but it's available by request, and I need to figure out a place to 
make it readily available.


On 8/26/20 9:41 AM, Dale Henrichs wrote:
> Eliot,
> When you repost, could you make sure that you include a description of 
> where the time stamps are stashed ... I'm assuming that you are adding 
> it to the method properties (where the category is stashed) as I think 
> that this is the right place, but it's always best not to guess:)
> The current crop of Tonel readers/writers do not necessarily do a good 
> job of preserving, foreign data (IIRC, the convention is to add a 
> platform prefix to the property name, which is the same convention 
> used for class properties ... at GemStone we add a leading `gs_` to 
> our property names), so until we can get all of the different Tonel 
> readers/writers to preserve foreign properties (package, class and 
> method) it will continue to be dicey business for preserving foreign 
> properties in cross platform projects ...
> Monticello does not explicitly preserve foreign properties as the 
> definitions get created from the native objects, so it takes some 
> additional work to arrange to preserve foreign properties for 
> packages, classes, and methods in the objects themselves. So it is 
> worth considering what you will do with preserving foreign properties 
> from other platforms.
> FWIW, I intend to support the preservation of foreign properties in 
> Rowan (read that as "I haven't done that yet":)
> Finally, Martin McClure has started working on a spec for the next 
> generation Tonel format ... to add a few missing pieces and tweak the 
> format to make it possible to continue to evolve the Tonel format into 
> the future in a somewhat sane way. If there are folks here in the 
> Squeak community who would like to review, comment and participate in 
> the creation of the next generation format, send me (or Martin) mail 
> and we'll get you added to the mailing list.
> Dale
> On 8/26/20 7:15 AM, Eliot Miranda wrote:
>> Jakob,
>>> On Aug 26, 2020, at 2:45 AM, Jakob Reschke <forums.jakob at resfarm.de> 
>>> wrote:
>>> Hi Eliot,
>>>> Am Mi., 26. Aug. 2020 um 11:20 Uhr schrieb Eliot Miranda
>>>> <eliot.miranda at gmail.com>:
>>>> If we go with Tonel then we must change it to support method 
>>>> timestamps.  I have a change set that does this (it is a trivial 
>>>> change).  And my changes are controlled by a class variable so that 
>>>> the same code can produce Pharo format or a slightly modified 
>>>> format that includes method timestamps.
>>>> What I don’t understand is why Esteban Lorenzano refuses to accept 
>>>> my changes and allow Tonel to be used either with or without method 
>>>> timestamps.
>>> Method timestamps produce merge conflicts inevitably.
>> a) only when they change, and they change only when methods change
>> b) inadvertent method timestamp changes can be undone automatically
>> c) Squeak uses method timestamps; we have lots of tools that use 
>> them. Dropping them just so that we can use Tonel is an example of 
>> the tail wagging the dog. The Tonel interface must instead be made to 
>> function with method timestamps
>> If there is a decision not to support method timestamps then I will 
>> not support the work. This is a make or break issue for me.
>>> Can you re-post
>>> your changeset here?
>> I’ll post it later today (reading email in bed right now).
>>> https://github.com/squeak-smalltalk/squeak-tonel/issues
>> OK
>>> Then we could
>>> discuss whether to include it at least in the Squeak version. As we
>>> have heard from Mariano some time ago, VA Smalltalk also puts its
>>> dialect-specific metadata in the Tonel format, so Squeak would not be
>>> the first to do so.
>> Good.
>>> Kind regards,
>>> Jakob

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