Classical Applications (was Re: 17 new updates)

Joachim Durchholz joachim.durchholz at
Fri Feb 12 08:08:42 UTC 1999

To throw my 5c from a "commercial application developer" perspective:

Bijan Parsia wrote:
> At 5:43 PM -0500 2/11/99, Stefan Matthias Aust wrote:
> >[Native TrueType support in Squeak]
> >completely ignores the hosting operation system and does what is does
> >on its own (Newest example is true type support - really cool but the
> >reinvention of the wheel).  Interaction is of course possible but
> >again you'd have to do it on your own.
> There is a very, very, very, very, very good reason to do this
> ["reinventing the wheel"] and it's *not* portability ;)
> It's completeness. [...]

I'd say it's both. Making the thing personal is extremely helpful (flat
learning curve and all), but making it portable is even better. Now I
can do TrueType applications that run on Unix, Mac, all Windows flavors,
and even PDAs - hooray! I call that "write once, run everywhere" - and
the mere promise of this is what made Java such a success.

> Of course, the more personal, the more it must be tailored to one's
> own personality. If one is a developer, developing applications for
> others, it may be that the needed tailoring is so extreme as to move
> Squeak away from the personal system goal.

I don't think so. You can always seal off the internals of the system,
so that those who aren't Smalltalkers cannot mess with them. Of course
this means you need to cater for needs that are customarily handled by
the debugger (such as handling errors). But it should be possible to
install these as add-ons without affecting the "personal system" goal.
Besides, everything is just a file-in away :)

The real problem is elsewhere. Squeak Central specifically says that
backwards compatibility is *not* very high on their priority list. On
one hand, this makes improvements easier, on the other hand, it can be
really crippling.

> But, of course, there's nothing stopping *anyone* from setting up a
> Squeak Pro Central with the specific goal of migrating the system
> toward professional cross-platform development. I'd even bet that
> Regular Squeak Central would help out and, as is reasonable, sync up.

Sounds like a good idea to me. There are lots of independent developers
(IOW one-man shows) that need a development environment that's
affordable, productive (to compete with 50-person shops), can be
mastered by a single person, and is stable. Squeak exels on all but the
last criterion. I think the main job of Squeak Central Pro would be
providing migration aids.

> But there are extant Smalltalk systems that meet the pro needs. I
> don't see that Squeak loses by their existence and Squeaker's use of
> them.

The "personal system" doesn't lose. In fact Squeak cannot lose as it's
The "use it for commercial stuff" Squeak does lose. In fact it doesn't
even come into existence, which I find a pity. I have looked at those
commercial Smalltalks and was not impressed. And I found that all of
these commercial Smalltalks try to lock me into their system. I guess
Squak will lock me in as well, but then there's no commercial interest
behind that locking-in, and I have more of a say what's going to be done
(simply because there is no conflict of interests between me and Squeak
Central), so this type of lock-in is OK.

> >However, I see a demand for a second kind of Squeak.  A Squeak
> >tailored as a tool - not a toy - for creating applications (games,
> >financial programs, other tools, whatever).  Something like a free
> >alternative to other commercial Smalltalk systems.  Something, which
> >not only awakes warm feelings in the heart of true Smalltalkers but
> >which attracts even ordinary people ;-)
> Where *is* this demand? Who is it demanded of? Perhaps you meant
> 'need'? 'Niche'? 'Market space'?
> Strange enough, the people I've "won over" to Squeak were *all*
> "ordinary people". I'm utterly baffled by the apparant tension between
> you're notion of a "tool" and the alledged appeal to ordinary people.
> Let's not run away with the rhetoric here. If Squeak doesn't do
> something for you, do something to it until it does or adopt one of
> many fine alternatives.

Now that's rhetorics on both sides.
If you say "commercial developers are a niche 'market' for Squeak", it's
a self-fulfilling prophecy: as long as that's official policy,
commercial developers won't use Squeak, meaning that they will always be
seen as an irrelevant fraction of total Squeak users, reassuring the
original impression that commerce is a niche in the Squeak community.

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