[Esug-list] Spreading Smalltalk

Niall Ross nfr at bigwig.net
Fri Apr 8 09:45:45 EDT 2011

Dear Sean, Geert et al,
    my first attempt.

1) Why:

For coders, it's fun;  Smalltalk is like a drug that you get addictd 
to.  And why is that?  It's because Smalltalk is productive and 
forgiving;  productive _because_ it is forgiving.

 - Statically-typed languages say:  assume you are clever.  This is an 
IDE for coders who are clever enought to be right first time.

 - Smalltalk says:  assume you have a lot to learn.  This is an IDE for 
coders who are often wrong first time around.

So, why?  Because you will succeed in the real world, where you and your 
colleagues always have a lot to learn about every new task, not only in 
the imaginary world where flawless geeks grasp their work in a flash.

2) How:  see my Value of Smalltalk talk in


In brief:

 - The basic rule about optimisation - Do it later!

 - Static-typing:  a gigantic, constraining, up-front optimisation

3) What:  see my lists at the start of the ESUG 2011 conference page or 
on the poster

(Thought:  are these therefore too focussed on the what, not the why and 
how?  I will review.  Opinions welcome.)

The above is in relation to mainstream languages.  If I were discussing 
Smalltalk with a Rubyist I would

a) be more respectiful of their language

b) point at Smalltalk's maturity

c) point at another value of Smalltalk - exceptionally easy to learn, 
easy to read.  It was designed to be so from the start, and it is so.  
That's a why in relation to other dynamic languages.  An aspect of the 
how is described in my old pages


             Yours faithfully
                   Niall Ross

Geert Claes wrote:

>Hi Sean, I liked Simon's talk too.  So following Simon's theory and start
>with the "why", then "how" followed by "what":
>Why: Why does Smalltalk (still) exist, what does the Smalltalk community
>believe in and probably most importantly why should anyone care?
>How: How does Smalltalk do what it does, how is it designed, is it usable,
>intuitive, powerful ...?
>What: What does Smalltalk do, following Sean's examples; provide developer
>productivity, platform independence ...
>Looking at the above I really have a feeling that Smalltalk's "Why" already
>is - and always has been - very strong.
>The "what" is probably another reason why Smalltalk is still around after
>all these years.  Smalltalk does provide powerful developer productivity and
>did lead the way in a myriad of other areas ... which other languages and/or
>IDE's have since taken on board.
>The "how" is where Smalltalk's Achilles' heel is.  Recent success stories
>did create a resurgence of interest in Smalltalk as it did wonders for
>Smalltalk's perceived usefulness.  Smalltalk still needs to focus more on
>the "how" in order not to lose those all important opinion leaders and early
>adopters that are fascinated by the "why" but have a gut feeling and feel
>like given the "perceived ease-of-use" Smalltalk may not be exactly what
>they are after.  Find the right recipe to improve the "how", the design,
>look-and-feel and usability and these early adopters will stay and Smalltalk
>will cross the chasm and influence the early majority :)
>View this message in context: http://forum.world.st/Spreading-Smalltalk-tp3435227p3435954.html
>Sent from the ESUG mailing list archive at Nabble.com.
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