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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

By the way Ian...

(By the way Ian, I am interested in this comment and intend to respond. I just haven't taken the time yet to get into the detail required.)

Ian Bicking writes in a comment on my blog...

I really don't see how Smalltalk is better. It has blocks, and that's cool, and you can use them in several interesting ways. But in many ways its model is more rigid. Well, maybe it's more appropriate to say that its representation of source is more rigid, specifically the IDE. I can imagine Smalltalk objects that are completely general and not particularly related to classes. But I can imagine block objects in Python; in both cases, there's no good way to represent them (traditionally) in source.

Python has some flexibility that Smalltalk tends not to because of its imperative style. Since each Python module is a script, you can program how the objects that are constructed. Decorators are one obvious example of this -- and something where syntax was added for aesthetic effect, but the semantics were already well worked out, and fit into Python's model just fine.

Because Smalltalk has declarative source, there's not as much room for building objects on the fly. Again, you can do it, but it's not nearly as comfortable.

In the end, it doesn't seem like Smalltalk is an evolving language, and there's no one to even go to to ask for new features (who would realistically respond in a positive way). So it's hard to compare; in all of these languages, you can cope somehow. You can always do code generation, after all. In evolving languages there are options besides coping; that people respond to that and ask for changes doesn't indicate a more flawed language.


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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.