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

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Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Smalltalk is *too* good for its own good

Begin Update:
Ian continues...

Smalltalk code feels organic and extensible, but it's not well congealed into something as distinct as a "program". The current computing world is a world of programs, not objects. Maybe we'll get to that world of objects, but there needs to be a path leading there that starts here.

So maybe my new conclusion is that Smalltalk is uncompromising in its vision, but the world is not ready for that vision.

Smalltalk is *too* good? I would agree that Smalltalk still (after thirty plus years) seems ahead of its time. But I've seen large programs in C++ and Java become far more unwieldy mostly because they lack the *tools* that make exploration possible.
End Update

There are too many places to begin refuting this critique of Smalltalk, but let's start here as a place holder...

You can't easily map C or other libraries into Smalltalk.

Wrong. It's been a while since I've had to map C to Smalltalk, but even eight years ago it was so easy I was calling SAP R/3 functions from Smalltalk with just a few lines of code, and just an hour or so effort (for the first time I called SAP R/3 from *anything* and SAP R/3 is about the strangest thing I've ever had to call from any language).

It doesn't help either that Smalltalk's OO nature encourages everything to be a framework, instead of building mere libraries, but that's a topic for a different day...

Let's hope Ian gets to this someday. I have no idea where he's going with this.

I think it's wrong to underestimate the problems with Smalltalk's system image...

Maybe listing *one* thing wrong with the image would be a start. One can criticize anything, but an image file is just a convenience that other programmers struggle to emulate more or less in other language systems.

Sorry, I don't see much in Ian's critique to sympathize with. Least of all the "it looks strange" argument. Sorry, get over that one already, or ignore Smalltalk altogether. It's that simple.

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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.