[Vm-dev] RE: To FFI or not to FFI

Colin Putney colin at wiresong.com
Mon Oct 4 20:04:42 UTC 2010

On Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 11:56 AM, Andreas Raab <andreas.raab at gmx.de> wrote:

> In practice, there is a *huge* advantage for porting if all you need is a C
> compiler and a bit of knowledge about the underlying OS support.

This brings up a question that I've been wondering about for a while.
How useful is Slang these days?

I can totally see how it would have been faster to get the new VM up
and running in Apple Smalltalk in the first place, but I'm wondering
if these days it's more trouble than it's worth. Most dynamic
languages (eg, Ruby, Python, Perl, Javascript) are implemented in
straight, idiomatic C and benefit a lot from the fact that many, many
people already have the skills needed to work with the language and

In contrast, the Squeak VM is written in a language that almost nobody
knows, using tools that almost nobody understands. Outside of the
current maintainers it's a very short list, and many of the people on
it aren't active in the community anymore. "Implemented in its self"
is kind of neat, but as a practical matter, Slang is not Smalltalk,
and a developer skilled in both C and Smalltalk still has a lot to
learn before he can contribute to the VM.

So here's a question to the folks that are actively hacking on the VM:
is Slang still beneficial in your day-to-day work? Do you write and
debug using the simulator? Is it worth the high barriers to entry for
the uninitiated?


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