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The Innovation Technology Awards session is one of the real highlights of the annual International Smalltalk Conference organised by ESUG each year.

Noury Bouraqadi has just posted to remind everyone that you only have until 1st July to nominate your work for an award. Put together a brief description of your work, which can be in any Smalltalk dialect, make it available for inspection online, and be prepared to demonstrate it to a constant stream of inquisitive Smalltalkers during the conference, and you could win up to €500 in addition to the recognition and respect of your peers.

Have a look at Noury’s site for an introduction to the ideas that have proved popular in the past, or our own details of last year’s winners.

All the administrative details can be found on the ESUG 2009 website – so get those application forms in now!

And in case you’ve forgotten, this year’s conference is in Brest, France from 31 August—4 September, 2009. It will be preceded by Camp Smalltalk running on the weekend of 29—30 August 2009, and incorporates the International Workshop on Smalltalk Technologies on 31 August.

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.

Despite recent discussions over what killed Smalltalk, there continues to be lots of interest in the language and in Seaside in particular. Anyone based near London will be able to find out more about both topics at a talk dramatically titled “Seaside: The Revenge of Smalltalk“.

This “Geek Night” is going to cover how Smalltalk makes web development different and how Seaside is being put to use in the “Real World”. Participants will learn about real object-orientated programming rather than class-orientated programming.

The two presenters are Lukas Renggli, who will be talking about Squeak and the world of Open Source Smalltalk; and Michel Bany from Cincom who will be discussing how Seaside and Smalltalk has been used in companies like JP Morgan.

The talk is hosted by Thoughtworks‘ London office on Monday 6th July, 2009 from 7:00pm—10:00pm.

Monticello 2 podcast

4 November, 2008

Monticello 2

As we mentioned recently, Colin Putney has been working on Monticello 2, a ground-up rewrite of the distributed optimistic concurrent versioning system for Squeak code written by Avi Bryant and Colin Putney with contributions from many members of the Squeak community. This version offers a new, more flexible and more performant versioning engine, as well as many improved features.

James Robertson of Cincom recently spoke to Colin on his Industry Misinterpretations podcast, where they discussed the changes in the new version, and how these would help developers to maintain and share code. The podcast is available here.

Smalltalk on Eclipse

31 October, 2008

Having seemingly started to lose interest in Smalltalk when it sold off its VisualAge for Smalltalk business to Instantiations, it looks like IBM is now keen to develop its own Smalltalk IDE. The IBM Smalltalk Tools Development Team is working to support Smalltalk in Eclipse. They’re working with a strong understanding of Eclipse and ENVY Smalltalk, and with support from the Instantiations team, and seem to be making great progress: the screenshot above shows a class browser perspective in Eclipse.

Although the product is still only available internally, the team are sharing their experiences in developing what they’re calling “WRATH”, having presented updates at EclipseCon and Smalltalk Solutions, and talking to James Robertson on the Industry Misinterpretations podcast.

Stéphane Ducasse writes that his book “Squeak: Learn Programming with Robots” is now free.

The book was the result of a collaboration by Stéph with his wife who was a maths and physics teacher in a French school for students aged 11–15, meaning that the book addresses many of the issues that are raised by children when first introduced to programming concepts. It uses a simple environment written in Squeak Smalltalk to allow children to create and manipulate bots.

The book (also known as the Bots Inc book) was published by Apress in June 2005, and received some very nice testimonials and reviews, with Huw Collingbourne saying that for “a beginning programmer or someone who wants an easy-to-understand entry to the world of ‘real’ object orientation, it would be a real treat.”

Thanks to financial support from ESUG, Stéph has now been able to buy back the rights to the book in order to release it for free. He is now working to make the book available on his website, and translations are already under way.

The original book is still available for purchase both as hard copy and for download onto Amazon’s Kindle.

Nicolas Chen has posted a very interesting report on the Squeak and Seaside ‘Birds of a Feather’ sessions at this year’s OOPSLA Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Speakers included Michael Lucas-Smith of Cincom talking  about their WebVelocity development tool for Seaside; Göran Krampe on Blackfoot, his lightweight SCGI-based KomHttpServer replacement for Seaside deployment; Dave Ungar (ex-Sun Labs, now at IBM Research) on his work on multi-core Squeak; and Jecel Assumpcao Jr. on Smalltalk Hardware Design, and his Siliconsqueak project.

As promised, Göran has published videos of the sessions; see his blog for details.

Mark Driver, an analyst at Gartner, has an just published an interesting article noting the resurgence of interest in Smalltalk. He says that developers owe a tremendous debt to Smalltalk but the language itself has been relegated to a small niche of technology elites for several years now. He reasons that this was because it introduced so many new concepts that the developer community is only now coming to appreciate.

He suggests a number of catalysts for the sudden revival of Smalltalk:

  • Open source Smalltalks encouraging less vendor lock-in.
  • An understanding of the importance of Smalltalk to the designers of Python and Ruby.
  • And of course, the excitement that Seaside has sparked.

Read the article for more details, and some very interesting comments.

Trygve Reenskaug wrote to the Squeak dev mailing list to announce the release of BabyIDE, an IDE which which runs on Squeak Smalltalk, and is based on his exploration of a new development paradigm, called DCI. The aim of the DCI (Data-Context-Interaction) paradigm is to minimise any gaps between the programmer’s mental model of the program and the program that is actually stored and executed in the computer, by presenting system operations as networks of communicating objects.

Trygve, who is based at the Department of Informatics at the University of Oslo, has written a detailed overview (pdf) of the thinking behind his work on BabyIDE and BabyUML.

Janko Mivšek has announced that Swazoo 2.2 is ready for beta testing, with much improved upload (input streaming) performance as a main new feature. Swazoo is an open source, vendor agnostic, dialect neutral, highly performant Smalltalk web server with resource and web request resolution framework, born on a first Camp Smalltalk 2000 in San Diego. It is used as standalone web server for static content or for running web frameworks like Seaside and Aida/Web.

On Squeak it uploads 15 times faster than before, achieving 1.5MB/s throughput locally on a Linux 3.2GHz PC. On VisualWorks it is even more impressive: 30 times better, achieving 15MB/s throughput. This means only 20s for 300MB file upload. In both cases upload performance is about half of the download one due to additional MIME parsing needed.

Janko believes that in Swazoo we now have a Smalltalk web server with comparable performance to others in terms of upload performance, meaning that Swazoo is ready for demanding upload tasks like video uploading as well as video-serving (eg for screencasts) which has been possible for a while.

Currently running on Squeak, GNU Smalltalk, Gemstone, Dolphin and VisualWorks, Swazoo appears well on its way to meeting its goal, defined in a manifesto back in 2000: “to join forces and make a really good web server in Smalltalk, open source and for all Smalltalk dialects”.