Eliot Miranda has announced that his new Cog VM is now available for download, bringing Just-In-Time compilation and massive speed-ups to Squeak and Pharo.

If you’ve been following Eliot’s blog, you’ll know that he’s been working on this new VM for quite a few months now; well, it’s now ready for public consumption, and it’s blisteringly fast: up to three times faster than the existing VMs.

The VM selectively re-compiles code to native (Intel) machine-code, based on the size and complexity of the methods, and how often they’re called. This means that the benefits of the new VM vary from task to task, but Andreas Raab estimates that you should expect a 2-3x performance improvement generally, “more towards 2x when running primitive and I/O-bound stuff; more towards 3x when running ‘pure’ Smalltalk code”.

Eliot is interested in hearing from developers on other platforms who want to port the new VM to those platforms. In the meantime, he has also released the “Stack VM”, a cross-platform interpreter that uses context-to-stack mapping to achieve more modest performance gains.

See Eliot’s original post and the following discussion for more details of the new VM, some notes of caution, and how to get your hands on it and use it.

Thanks to Eliot for this great piece of work, and to Teleplace who have funded this work (and have been using it for the past year), and have agreed to release the new VM’s under the MIT Licence.

Squeak 4.1 released

23 April, 2010

Squeak 4.1 has now been released! This version combines the licence change occurring in the 4.0 release with the development work that has been going on while the re-licensing process took place.

Much of the work in this release has been focused on fundamental improvements. Major achievements are the integration of Cog’s closure implementation, the improved UI look and feel, the new anti-aliased fonts, the core library improvements, and the modularity advances.

One key focus for this release was to address the issues that have been known to frustrate developers using Squeak for the first time. A much improved set of UI widgets, the new menu bar including the fast search control, integrated help, improved test coverage, more class and method comments, and integrated syntax highlighting all make the system more accessible. The new full closures, the new traits implementation, multiple improvements to the collections and streams classes, the new NumberParser hierarchy all help make development easier and produce cleaner, faster code. Deploying your completed applications will be made easier by the work done on making many modules unloadable, and by support for other cleanup activities.

To download the Squeak 4.1 release please visit http://ftp.squeak.org/4.1 or go to the squeak.org homepage and use the Download links on the right hand side.

Etoys 4 released

31 October, 2009

Following his announcement of the release candidate last month, Timothy Falconer of Squeakland has now announced the full release of Etoys 4, which you can now download from their website.

The Squeakland Fall newsletter has the Etoys 4 release notes which detail the changes you’ll find, in English and Spanish. The newsletter also has some thoughts by Scott Wallace on this release which completes the hand-over of Squeak Etoys from Viewpoints Research to the newly formed Squeakland Foundation.

To publicise some of the work being done using Etoys, the Squeakland site has a new feature: the Squeakland Showcase. Everyone can now share their projects directly from Etoys to the website, where the Etoys community can then benefit from the many surprising and useful Etoys examples that are available.

Timothy invites anyone using Squeak or Etoys, to consider adding their name to their Squeakers list. More than 175 people from 35 countries have signed, which really shows the enthusiasm and reach of Etoys throughout the world.

Timothy adds “Special thanks to the Squeakland software team, particularly Bert Freudenberg, Yoshiki Ohshima, and Scott Wallace for their tremendous efforts in the last month. Your hard work really shows!”

SqueakDBX news

7 October, 2009

logo-opendbx

The SqueakDBX team have been very busy recently working on their OpenDBX plugin which allows Squeak users to perform relational database operations (including DDL and DML as well as SQL) through an open source library.

Their new release, Version 1.1, now supports MySQL, PostgreSQL, Sqlite3, Oracle and MSSQL on Windows, Linux and Mac, as well as incorporating a number of performance refactorings.

They’ve also found time to build a new website for SqueakDBX, which contains lots of documentation and links to useful resources.

To get a better idea of the features of SqueakDBX, and of the work that the team have been doing, have a look at their ESUG 2009 presentation. You can also follow their work at http://lists.squeakfoundation.org/mailman/listinfo/squeakdbx

Squeak Etoys release candidate

30 September, 2009

Etoys

Timothy Falconer wrote to the squeak-dev mailing list to announce the Squeak Etoys 4 release candidate, in preparation for final release on 21st October.

This release is the product of nine months of work by the Etoys software team, and several weeks of sprinting by Bert Freudenberg, Yoshiki Ohshima, Scott Wallace and Timothy.

The Etoys team are now looking for your input: Timothy says “Please help us test the new Etoys! We want to make sure that it’s rock solid before getting used in schools and homes throughout the world”.

You can download the Etoys 4 release candidate at http://squeakland.org/download under “Release Candidates”.

Highlights of Etoys 4 include:

  • loading and sharing projects directly to the central Squeakland Showcase
  • fully “license clean”, so that it can be included in Linux distros
  • improved toolbar and viewer
  • optional drop-down categories for the project info box
  • lots of fixes and new translations throughout

To learn more about what’s new in Etoys 4, you can watch an interview with Scott Wallace or an introduction to the new beta showcase.

If you find any problems in the release candidate, you can try the Etoys chat channel, or post in the forums, or if you’re able to reproduce the error, add a ticket to the issue tracker.

Timothy passes on special thanks to everyone who made suggestions or helped the team to test the betas, saying “We’d be nowhere without our community!”

Pier 1.2 now out

14 July, 2009

Pier logo

Lukas Renggli, Tudor Girba and colleagues have been working hard on their Pier web content management system for the past few months, and have now shared the product of their labours with the release of Pier 1.2. Pier is a lightweight web content management system, built on Seaside, and intended to be managed from the browser.

They announced some of the key features of the 1.2 release as:

  • An improved system for including dynamic content in pages (see http://www.piercms.com/doc/syntax for more details)
  • No need to have the _s and _k Seaside parameters in the url (it uses cookies to record state by default)
  • Pier can remember last login information
  • Smaller javascript code for faster page loading
  • Better default CSS (including a style for events)
  • Halos for enhanced editing
  • Available as a one-click install (based on Pharo 0.1-10374)

The one-click image is available for download at the Pier web site, where Tudor has also produced a brief video to get you started with Pier. There are plenty more resources including more videos on the documentation section of the site.

maui

Chris Muller has released a thoroughly updated and documented version of his user interface framework Maui. Chris has described Maui as a “naked objects” Morphic-based UI builder that allows rapid UI creation based on object-message composition.

Maui includes a number of light satellite frameworks that supply various application services like documents, object-search, background process management with progress monitoring. It also provides a number of tools which allow applications to be synthesized quickly, without the need to write any user-interface code.

Chris has written a fifty page document describing Maui and giving examples of how to use it to build user interfaces for complex applications. In this document he also discusses future work for Maui, including the tantalising possibility of extending it to support the development of web applications.