Etoys-iii

Don’t miss the new Etoys book: http://wiki.squeakland.org/index.php/LearningWithEtoysI3.

Etoys is:

  • an educational tool for teaching children powerful ideas in compelling ways
  • a media-rich authoring environment and visual programming system
  • a free software program that works on almost all personal computers

All school children should have the opportunity to engage with computers in the most meaningful way. Learning to think and using the computer to discover and work with powerful ideas is the knowledge of true value. The community of Etoys users is working toward the dream of having all students become computer literate. This book only covers a small portion of those items. As you and your students learn some of the basic techniques, you will find more and more uses for them. The process of learning Etoys is just that, a process; the learning is on-going even though projects are begun and finished. Students will enjoy becoming experts and sharing their knowledge with others in the classroom.

Imagine this: A group of learners want to visualize what they Imagine so they go to Etoys to Invent their dreams and Inspire each other by building on their various Etoys projects. Today’s learners need this kind of experience to be prepared for the future.

For more information about Etoys visit www.squeakland.org

back-to-the-future

More exciting conference news for Smalltalk aficionados: James Foster has announced on his blog that this year’s OOPSLA conference will include several tutorials with a Smalltalk theme including his “Back to the Future: Programming in Smalltalk” in which he will look at the “new” ideas from Smalltalk that are still influencing newer programming languages. He will examine some of these ideas and present a number of tutorial exercises that explore some of Smalltalk’s  fundamentally different approach to language design and object orientation, including the following aspects:

  • All values are objects, even integers, booleans, and characters (no boxing/unboxing);
  • Classes and methods are objects (supporting reflection);
  • The language has only five reserved words;
  • All control flow (looping and conditional branching) is done through message sends;
  • Programming is done by sending messages to existing objects; and
  • The base class library can be modified.

James works on Gemstone’s high performance product family based on Smalltalk, but intends the exercises to be relevant across different versions.

This year’s OOPSLA will be held in Orlando, Florida from 25 to 29 October, and will also be co-located with the Dynamic Languages Symposium, which will doubtless have lots to interest Smalltalkers.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a European break this year, don’t forget that the 2009 International Smalltalk Conference, organised by ESUG, will be held in Brest, France, from 31 August to 4 September, and also has a great set of sessions lined up.

New Screencasts on DrGeoII

20 August, 2008

Hilaire Fernandes has announced that he has created over 50 screencasts illustrating the capabilities of DrGeoII. DrGeoII allows students at primary or secondary level to create and interactively manipulate geometric figures within definable constraints.

It is written using Morphic in Squeak Smalltalk, and can be embedded and mixed with existing Morph elements of the Squeak environment on the OLPC XO to produce some very impressive-looking activities to help students learn about mathematics and physics. The DrGeo wiki has lots of useful advice on how to get the best from the application.

Development of Dr. Geo II was partly sponsored by TOP, the Taiwan Open Source Project, with funding from the Taiwan Ministry of Economy, and by ESUG to promote the Smalltalk language.

Ken Causey has added a very useful video to the Squeak Smalltalk group at vimeo.com, in which he demonstrates the entire process of creating and submitting a bug/fix or enhancement for Squeak. Along the way he also explains how to track down simple bugs, how to manage changesets, and how to navigate your way around the Mantis bug tracking system.

The Squeak mailing lists have recently seen a surge of interest in getting videos published to help explain Squeak and Smalltalk to developers coming to the language and environment for the first time.

In response to this Randal L. Schwartz has set up a new Squeak Smalltalk group on vimeo.com to allow Squeakers to easily upload and share their videos.

Videos can be a great way to help people quickly pick up a lot of complex information, which makes this an opportunity for Squeakers old and new to help promote Squeak. If there are any topics that you think would suit a short video, why not try recording one and publishing it? If you’re the developer of a powerful Squeak developer tool, and you’re amazed that no-one seems to use all of its functionality, this would be a great way to expose all of those features in a compelling way.

If you’re a new developer struggling with Squeak, let us know what topics you’d like to see covered in video tutorials. If you’ve got any recommendations for recording and editing software for Windows, Mac or Linux, please leave a comment.

The German Squeak Association (Squeak e. V.) had its annual meeting on May 17. For the second time, the meeting was hosted by the Software Architecture Group at the Hasso-Plattner-Institut in Potsdam. Before the official part, attendees of the meeting were given the opportunity to demonstrate their Squeak projects.

First, Tobias Pape and Arian Treffer, students of HPI, demonstrated SwaLint, a source code checker for Squeak. SwaLint is intended as a successor to SmallLint and, thanks to its flexible plug-in architecture, supports running SmallLint checks seamlessly. SwaLint can be configured in great detail: thresholds for all kinds of values can be set, and output can be filtered. Users can easily implement their own plug-ins for the tool.

Next, Michael Haupt (HPI) gave a brief demonstration of SqueakFS, which was implemented by Johan Björk and Eskil Andréen from Stockholm University, Sweden. SqueakFS makes the contents of a running Squeak image available as part of the file system. Currently, it is limited to read-only access, but the image can already be viewed from three perspectives: all classes as a flat collection, assorted by category, and by class hierarchy.

Robert Krahn presented SqueakSVN, which is an ongoing development effort in the Software Architecture Group at HPI. The purpose of SqueakSVN is to make Subversion version control available to Squeak developers; it is able to import Monticello projects. SqueakSVN will be released in June.

Martin Beck is currently working on his MSc thesis in the HPI Software Architecture Group. His work is dedicated to implementing NXTalk, a Smalltalk virtual machine for the Lego Mindstorms NXT platform. Development of NXTalk application takes place in a Squeak image, and assembled NXTalk images are transferred to the NXT for execution by the dedicated NXTalk VM. In the current state, simple images can be assembled and run: Martin demonstrated a program that can be used to steer a simple NXT bestowed with two motors.

The popular introduction to the Seaside web application framework that was produced at HPI was briefly presented by David Tibbe, one of its co-authors.

Robert Krahn had another appearance presenting the collection of games for the XO laptop developed by HPI students. All of the games are available for download as project or SAR files.

Finally, Carl Friedrich Bolz (Düsseldorf University), Adrian Kuhn (University of Bern), and Toon Verwaest (University of Bern) presented SPy, their ongoing effort to implement the Squeak VM in Python using the sophisticated PyPy tool chain. SPy is currently lacking GUI  and other I/O support, but is able to load images and run the tinyBenchmarks. Right after the Squeak association meeting, a PyPy development sprint in Berlin will, amongst others, bring new improvements.

After the official part of the association meeting, special guest Dan Ingalls gave a demonstration of Lively, his current project at Sun Labs. It looks and feels, admittedly, a bit like Squeak in disguise, but in Dan’s opinion, there is nothing bad about building the “same” system several times if it’s cool. That is certainly true for Lively.

Squeak by Example has been a hugely successful introduction to Squeak since its publication last year, and it has now been made available to a wider audience, following the publication of a French edition Squeak par l’exemple. As with the English edition, the book has been made available in print from print-on-demand specialists lulu.com for around €17/$20/£11, or can be downloaded from the site as a pdf.

Squeak par l’exemple was produced thanks to the hard work of the team of translators: Martial Boniou, Mathieu Chappuis, Luc Fabresse, René Mages, Nicolas Petton, Alain Plantec, Benoît Tuduri and Serge Stinckwich.