[Vm-dev] RE: To FFI or not to FFI
juan at jvuletich.org
Mon Oct 4 23:46:27 UTC 2010
Colin Putney wrote:
> 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 almost never use the simulator. I've only used it to fix 2 rounds of
BitBlt bugs some time ago.
However, I do plugins for numerical stuff, image processing, graphics
and audio processing all the time. Being able to experiment, code and
debug in Smalltalk, and later have C speed almost for free is absolutely
wonderful. For these kinds of problems, Slang is way more productive
than C or ASM. And the "barrier for the uninitiated" is much lower than
for working on the VM itself.
I say "almost for free" because in these kinds of problems it is quite
natural to code in a rather "low level" Smalltalk, that is almost Slang.
> 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
> 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?
As I said above, Slang is not only useful for building the VM (I let the
VM experts talk about this application of Slang). It is also wonderful
for writing plugins.
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