There is a lot of hype surrounding JavaScript.

Years ago Google started the developing of V8, a super Just in time compiler for its Chrome Browser.

The V8 compiler revamped competition: Microsoft and Mozilla foundation strike back optimizing their JavaScript interpreters.

On these days, a strong community is growing using Node.js, a web server “Evented I/O [Web application server] for V8 JavaScript“. Node.js sposts a non-blocking architecture which can lead to very fast server, able to process a lot of request with a single thread.

A quick peek on the people now. Lars Bak is the leader of the V8 project. It has worked on the design of Self and on the HotSpot JIT.  Lars Bak also co authored “Mixin in StrongTalk”.

So a lot of the optimization which let  Smalltalk and Java shine, are used in the JavaScript field nowadays. It is a simple “accident” 🙂 ?…or it is destiny?

JavaScript rocks? There is plenty of documentation all around, even if the first ECMA specification was quite unreadable in my humble opinion 🙂 There are some optimal guidelines for JavaScript module writing, for instance see the manuals on JQuery plugin development. But in JavaScript you are still a free player if you wish: no rule, no even need of structuring your code in some way:

var sith={}

sith.name=”DarthVader”;

sith.name=function(){
return “Nevermind, I am a function, now”;
}

The code above builds a very generic object, and add to it properties (which could be a function).

Worst, you get very strange things, evaluting:

[1,2]+[3,4]

you got:

“1,23,4”

This because “+” is not supported for arrays, so the JavaScript  language is effectively doing…

([1,2]+””)+[3,4]

I like dynamic languages like Self, but this is somewhat too…flexible 🙂

And last but not least JavaScript lacks a true integrated developement environment, even if here we smalltalkers could help a bit 🙂

So, SmallTalk2012 is not this version of JavaScript, at least not yet; JavaScript Harmony specification is working hard trying to polishing the language…As usual, the better way to predict the future is to …invent it… So let’s give Harmony a chance!

Smalltalks 2011

27 June, 2011

Worried that you won’t be able to come to Edinburgh for ESUG 2011? Well how about joining your fellow Smalltalkers in Argentina in November for Smalltalks 2011?

The Smalltalks conference brings together more than 200 people from both academia and industry to discuss Smalltalk-based software over three days. Smalltalks conferences have included many high-quality presentations from industry and research, showing interesting applications of Smalltalk, advances in the Smalltalk language, didactic uses of Smalltalk and much more.

This year’s conference runs from 3rd—5th November at the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes (English site) in Bernal, Argentina (just 15km from Buenos Aires).

As in previous years, there will be a dedicated research track for original scientific contributions to, or using, Smalltalk in general. If you’re interested in submitting a paper for the conference, the hard deadline is 22nd August 2011, with notification of acceptance by 23rd September.

See the call for papers for more details of submission guidelines and criteria.

Stefan Marr has just announced on his blog the relase of RoarVM, the first single-image manycore virtual machine for Smalltalk. RoarVM is based on the work on Renaissance VM by David Ungar and Sam S. Adams at IBM Research, and was ported to x86 architecture by Stefan.

From his post: “The RoarVM supports the parallel execution of Smalltalk programs on x86 compatible multicore systems and Tilera TILE64-based manycore systems. It is tested with standard Squeak 4.1 closure-enabled images, and with a stripped down version of a MVC-based Squeak 3.7 image.” Support for Pharo 1.2 is currently limited to 1 core, but this is being worked on!

Here’s some indicative figures for this new VM (using an adapted version of tinyBenchmarks on an MVC image):

 1 core   66M bytecodes/sec;  3M sends/sec
 8 cores 470M bytecodes/sec; 20M sends/sec

As Stefan notes “The RoarVM is a research project and is not as optimized for performance as the standard Squeak VM”. For comparison:

Squeak 4.2.4beta1U, MVC image, OS X 555M bytecodes/sec; 12M sends/sec

so you’ll need a few cores active before you start to see improvements over your existing image! There are also a number of known issues with the current implementation.

You can download the code from the RoarVm page at GitHub, contribute to the discussion on the vm-dev mailing list, or follow #RoarVM updates on Twitter.

Lambda the Ultimate is celebrating 10 years of its own existence, 30 (nominal) years of Smalltalk-80 and PARC turning 40, by revisiting a classic article Design Principles Behind Smalltalk by Dan Ingalls. From the post: “Ingalls’s piece should be filed under Visionary Languages. Alas, no such category exists on LtU.” Does this mean that Smalltalk-80 was the last visionary language?

Anyone with an interest in the continuing role and development of Smalltalk has had lots to chew on over the past few days.

As part of  a series of investigations into the most widely-used programming languages, Computerworld Australia has published a conversation with Alan Kay about his role in the development of the “foundation of much of modern programming today: Smalltalk-80”, Object-Oriented Programming, and modern software development.

InfoQ is running a series of interviews recorded at QCon London. One of these is a session with Ralph Johnson and Joe Armstrong discussing the Future of OOP, including their take on what Smalltalk got wrong and right.

Finally, Gilad Bracha continues to lay out his vision for what he sees as Smalltalk’s successor, Newspeak. His latest post contains encouragement and advice for those interested in porting existing libraries and applications to Newspeak.

Good news from Mariano Martinez Peck, one of the key organisers of the joint Smalltalk entry into this year’s Google Summer of Code: the students started work on their projects this week!

Following Google’s decision to focus on fewer organisations last year, ESUG co-ordinated a joint application for projects across all Smalltalk dialects this year, and were so successful in this venture that they got approval for 6 projects. You can find out more about the selected projects at the projects page.

For the last two weeks or so, students have been talking and discussing with their mentors, reading and investigating about the projects, and perhaps getting an early start on their development work. This was in line with the GSoC deadlines that you can read at the ESUG GSoC site and at the GSoC blog.

The organisers have told students to ask in case of problems or questions to their mentors but also to the community through the mailing list, so be prepared to help out with questions and issues that the students may have.

Mariano says “Good luck to all students and enjoy this wonderful opportunity you have. Now we are in the best part of the program!”

Janko and Mariano who are co-ordinating the joint ESUG application to this year’s Google Summer of Code are now looking for students to apply for the thirty-five proposed projects. The process couldn’t be simpler: review the list of projects, and you can register your interest in projects with just one click once you’re registered. You can also contact the project mentors for more information.

Note that this approach allows many students to register for each project, so if you want to improve your chances, make sure the project mentors can see why you would be the best choice for their project by editing your biography, and making sure that your contact information is up to date!

You must register by 9th April, so get cracking!

Any questions, visit the ESUG GSoC website, or contact the admins at esug.gsoc.adm2010@gmail.com.

Cincom are starting 2010 with their Smalltalk Technology Conference 2010 World Tour. This is a chance to learn more about how Smalltalk helps companies around the world reduce costs, improve efficiency, and get to market faster.

The Cincom team of Suzanne Fortman, James Robertson, Arden Thomas and Andreas Hiltner will be joined at the venues by Georg Heeg, giving a customer perspective on how Smalltalk can help your organisation, and Gartner analyst Tom Murphy, talking about the value of dynamic languages in general, and of Smalltalk in particular.

The schedule of events is:
  • Seattle, 21 January
  • Toronto, 26 January
  • D.C. Metro Area, 28 January
  • London, 2 March
  • Paris, 4 March
Find out more about each session on the events page of Cincom’s glossy new website, and keep an eye on James Robertson’s blog for updates as they happen.

Return To Smalltalk

7 November, 2009

NY-Skyline

The NYC Smalltalk group manages an active programme of talks and presentations, and this month’s talk looks to be very interesting. Daniel Antion, Vice President of Information Services at American Nuclear Insurers, discusses why his company began planning to migrate away from Smalltalk, and the evolving circumstances that caused them to take the difficult decision to reverse this strategy.

Dan has been working in Smalltalk since 1994 and develops most of ANI’s transaction processing systems. Dan has presented at Smalltalk Solutions, OOPSLA and the AIIM Expo on topics related to systems development, content management and SharePoint.

Dan’s experience and position within ANI mean that he can offer some real insights into the perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of Smalltalk from a corporate perspective, and the ongoing challenges it faces. He says “I’m not sure we saved Smalltalk forever but we bought it some serious time. The technical details that work for Smalltalk include its stability, malleability and extensibility. We still have concerns but we think they can be mitigated.”

If you’re going to be in New York on 18th November, find out more about Dan’s talk on the NYC Smalltalk website.

(Image by meironke on flickr)

Smalltalk Party in Paris

17 October, 2009

Noury Bouraqadi wrote to the squeak-dev mailing list with news that French Smalltalk users are holding their eighth annual SmalltalkParty in Paris on Saturday 28th November 2009.

The empahsis is on short presentations, so there promises to be plenty of interesting presentations. Items already planned for discussion include:

  • Speed dating with Smalltalk—Smalltalk in 15 min
  • Pharo: a Smalltalk vision
  • Profiler in Smalltalk
  • Mondrian  visualisations
  • Seaside by example
  • Small Parser—an executable grammar-based parser
  • Helvetia: A framework for DSLs
  • Coral: a Smalltalk scripting Langage
  • F-Script 2.0 news

The session will be held at Ecole des Mines de Paris, Boulevard Saint Michel – Paris and runs from 09:00 to 17:00.

For more information (in French) see the SmalltalkParty webpage.