What I would love to know

Dan Ingalls DanI at wdi.disney.com
Wed Aug 19 23:29:00 UTC 1998

Stephane (and all) -

>The following question was in my head since long time ago.
>First a context:
>Ok Squeak is cool, people are developing crazy things, are even not paid,....
>The idea to have a really good open smalltalk available on every platforms is great.
>But I would love to know what people from disney and/or apple are doing with it.
>Will Squeak be used in a big project, as a kernel of something really important
>Or is it just a side effect project?
>(guess what I prefer)

Well, a first cut at the context of our work can be gleaned from the "Where is Squeak Headed" section of the Squeak home page, at
This was written, as one can tell, late last year, but much of the vision part is still relevant, and it's gratifying to see that much of the planned implementation has actually come to pass.  That said, it is probably time for a bit of an update.  I'll take a crack at this in a message in the next couple of days, and if it comes out right, maybe we can use it to update the home page.

>Smalltalkers are often afraid by publicity. They often think:
>"we have the best language and environment so...." 
>But a bit of visibility is always good. So sure for that the fact that 
>lot of projects are based on Squeak is good but a real one made 
>by the central team would be really great. 

It would not be correct to say that we are afraid of publicity.  After all, we put a lot of effort into our presentation at OOPSLA last year, and we continue to participate actively in this mail distribution list and other web-based foci such as the above-mentioned home page and the several Squeak WIKIs.  This, though (in case it's not obvious), is not an attempt at PR but rather a labor of love -- we get much more back from sharing this work with all the other great Squeakers who follow and contribute to the dialogue here.

The simple fact is that we do not feel the time is yet right to "go public" in the usual sense of the phrase.

We believe that Squeak can be a first-class authoring environment for active media, along the lines of Hypercard done right.  We believe that Squeak can be a system that one could approach as an arithmetic engine, a string-processing engine, a graphics engine, or a music engine, and be able to probe deeper and deeper in any area, emerging with a complete understanding of these areas, enlightened by an understading of how they are all the same, and empowered with the ability to mold the system into any new configuration that makes sense.  We believe that Squeak can be as small as any rival system, making it a great base for interesting PDA software, and we believe that Squeak can be nearly as fast as any rival system, making it a reasonable choice for even the most serious software development work.

BUT we know that we are not there yet.  Squeak is not approachable yet by non-computer users, it is full of inconsistencies and convoluted and redundant code, fequently devoid of any comment or useful organization, and it is bulky and it is slow.

So what we're about, while in the process of doing other useful things for the Mouse, is cleaning up what's messy, speeding up what's slow, simplifying what is overly complex, and working to make the whole thing accessible by end users.

It's a long process, but we're not in a hurry.  We've been at this for a while, and we want to get it right this time.  Meanwhile it's the best system we know of for doing what we do, and this is a wonderful community for sharing what we and you are doing to clean up the kernel, and explore the possibilities at the periphery. 

	- Dan, for the Squeak Team

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