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Squeak

I am currently playing around with Squeak, a SmallTalk environment w/ lots of goodies.
It's really amazing and as far as usability is concerned, this is quite interesting as a playground to try new ideas (e.g. code is like any media type [gif, mpeg] and can be exchanged between systems etc).
I wanted to know if anybody in this list was also playing with it.

Philippe Back
Monday, November 11, 2002

I love it!  But I don't really know what to do with it - apart from  prototyping. 

Baz
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

If you're interested in Squeak I can recommend the book "Squeak - Open Personal Computing and Multimedia" which is a collection of articles covering all aspect of Squeaking. There is a web page at http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/squeakbook/

Neil Butterworth
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

I really hated that book.

It was my fault, really. I take another run at Squeak about every 8-12 months. There's something there, I can feel it - a vision about what computing COULD be. But every time I fire it up, I get dropped into this gawd awful environment with no idea where to turn next. I end up playing with it for a day or two, then put it down, very confused.

So, knowing that there's something in Squeak that I just didn't get but wanted to, I went looking to the bookstore for help. I found that book, picked it up, brought it home. Inside it is a whole bunch of "Isn't this neat" and "OO 101" essays. The OO 101 was a waste of time for someone who already gets OO. The "Isn't it neat" stuff didn't actually tell me HOW to do any of that stuff.

I still haven't found a book that tells me what I need to know - kinda the "zen of smalltalk." Not just the programming language part of it. I understand OO, and I can read the language already (Smalltalk syntax is very easy). What I need is something to explain the smalltalk development process: how do I take advantage of the environment? What's the best way to work on a project? How do I test?

And also, please, please, please a tutorial on the class library! Just saying "look at the code" doesn't help when Object has over 200 methods! I need somewhere to start.

Sorry about ranting there for a while. Squeak is important; I just can't quite see why I think that right now. I need somebody to show me, because I'm obviously too stupid to figure it out myself.

Chris Tavares
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

> I really hated that book.


Perhaps you could try another book - "The Dolphin Smalltalk Companion" which addresses providing  a real-world solution using a Smalltalk that is hosted natively on Windows. You can find out more about the book and Dolpin Smalltalk at http://www.object-arts.com/Home.htm

Neil Butterworth
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

(Moving slightly OT).

Chris wrote:

What I need is something to explain the smalltalk development process: how do I take advantage of the environment?

Amen! In my mind this is the single most important thing about learning a language or computer system. I can learn the _syntax_ of a language in a couple of hours, but what makes one a guru (and learning the language worthwhile) is understanding The Way of doing things in that language -- the idioms of the system that make particular tasks really easy, Sure, I could know FORTRAN and then write a load of PERL code containing for loops and gotos, but I'm really doing things the FORTRAN way and not doing things the PERL way (of which there are more than one, of course :-).

There's a real gap in the market here: books that assume you know the theory, teach you the syntax quickly, and then explain The Way of that languaage.

Tom Payne
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

>>>There's a real gap in the market here: books that assume you know the theory, teach you the syntax quickly, and then explain The Way of that languaage. <<<

Yep, I agree completely. C++ is one of the languages that actually DOES have this market covered - Scott Meyer's books, for example, are all about the "way" of C++.

For Smalltalk in general and Squeak in specific, it's a lot worse. The "way" of smalltalk isn't just the language - any competent programmer should be able to learn the syntax in an hour of so. But there's this big, strange environment you need to understand, and a class library that's so huge its completely unapprochable. Some real guidance would help.

To the person who suggested the Dolphin book - thanks. I've seen that on the shelf, but avoided picking it up after my last couple of smalltalk books, er, failed to enlighten me. I'll give it another look.

Chris Tavares
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

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