Promoting Squeak/Smalltalk

Laurence Rozier laurence.rozier at
Wed Jan 30 05:48:40 UTC 2008

On Jan 29, 2008 7:51 PM, Colin Putney <cputney at> wrote:

> On 29-Jan-08, at 3:42 PM, Joshua Gargus wrote:
> > The benefits of popularity seem clear.  There would be more smart
> > people with more spare time to contribute good ideas and code.
> > There would be more jobs and a better chance of making a living
> > using the language.  The second benefit would feed into the first,
> > and vice-versa.
> Well, I agree that smart people contributing to the community would be
> a good thing. But popularity doesn't necessarily imply smart people,
> it just means *more* people. I think the community we have today is
> actually quite good. The "unpopularity" of Smalltalk acts as a filter.
> To be a Smalltalker you've got to be smart enough to recognize the
> benefits, confident enough to leave the mainstream, and resourceful
> enough to overcome the obstacles that working in an "unpopular"
> language entails.

While I don't agree, I also don't see anything inherently wrong or bad about
this view - to each his own. However, it isn't consistent with the original
goals of Smalltalk nor the "programming for the rest of us" statement
currently on the Squeak About page. I know there are others who  don't want
to see the community expand very much and if that is a consensus then the
About page ought to be changed to reflect it. Although Smalltalk as an SDK
is a stretch in my view, Croquet makes clear who its audience is - truth in
advertising. If the Squeak community really doesn't want Squeak to be for
"everyone" that ought to be clear up front.



> If Smalltalk were more popular, I doubt we would
> actually get all that many more "smart people" than we have now.
> Now, making a living using the language. Popularity would probably
> bring more jobs, but it would also bring more programmers to compete
> for those jobs. It would probably also lower the average salary of
> Smalltalk jobs. That might or might not be a good thing.
> > The question is whether the benefits outweigh the costs.  Since the
> > benefits seem obvious to me, I'll assume that you're really
> > expressing skepticism about whether the benefits outweigh the
> > costs.  What do you think the costs are? (I can think of a few, but
> > I'm curious about what others think)
> I guess there are two costs. One is the effort and sacrifices required
> to make Smalltalk popular. For example, we might try creating a Ruby-
> on-Rails clone in Smalltalk, in order to take advantage of the current
> vogue in web apps. That would be a fair amount of work, presumably
> done by people who might otherwise be working on things that benefit
> the existing community. Or perhaps Seaside could be "dumbed down" so
> it could be marketed to the kind of developer that doesn't like the
> "magic" of continuations. That makes Seaside worse for the rest of us.
> The other cost is all the noise that would get introduced into the
> community. Sure, Java has more libraries than Smalltalk, but most of
> them are just crap. All they do is make it harder to find the good
> stuff, and diffuse the energy of the community.
> In general, I think we'd be better to focus not on popularity, but on
> community. Yes, a certain size is required for the community to
> function well, but beyond that there are diminishing returns from
> further growth. As long as the VM gets maintained, libraries written,
> bugs fixed, questions answered, newbies encouraged - as long as the
> community is functioning - Smalltalk is sufficiently popular.
> Colin
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