"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Smalltalk Success in Business

James Robertson reports on this interesting success story...

The insurance system - the rate of change drove them to build a meta-data system. It grew to handle hundreds of insurance products. Once it wa sin place, it was easy to add new ones. It was handled by a team of about 10 developers. After a merger, they were faced with another team that had 700 hand coded forms that dealt with only 9 insurance products. In theory, the merger was in part to acquire the leading edge advantage of the Smalltalk insurance products. Politically, the larger team won and forced a re-write in C# (a political compromise).

What they discovered was that Smalltalk's pure object model makes it far easier to deal with meta-models. C# and Java stand in the way. It's very hard to come up with patterns that would map the existing design onto C#. C# and Java are physically designed against meta approaches. The upshot - if you need to deliver a meta-model driven system, then expect to fail in C# or Java...

You can argue about how easy it is to integrate with some specific reporting package or XML parser. But Smalltalk can access all kinds of reporting packages and XML parsers, and has a few of its own.

The real question is how well the language supports your business *ideas*.

With the [Smalltalk] system, changes were delivered immediately - the replacement C# system delivered them much more slowly - and it also required a larger team. The Smalltalk system was also faster.
D'oh.

Read about other business successes with Smalltalk at Jim's site.

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.