Levente Uzonyi is obviously one of a number of people who have been quite envious of the built-in tab-completion in Pharo, so he’s put in the work required to make OCompletion work on Squeak images again. OCompletion works in two ways: it offers a short list of automatic completion hints as you type based on your recent activity, or you can bring up the fuller (classic eCompletion) list by using the tab key, and use the up and down arrow keys to navigate the list and the right arrow to reveal syntax-highlighted source code for the methods listed.

OCompletion is a re-working of the venerable eCompletion package, based on research done by Romain Robbes and Michele Lanza. It is aware of the current context as you type, and so offers suggestions from your current area of work e.g. class, package etc. This means that it responds much more quickly than eCompletion based on the complete image code base. It also adds a number of look-and-feel enhancements that make it a perfect fit with the current appearance of Squeak.

To try it out, just evaluate the following script in your image:

Installer squeaksource
 project: 'RoelTyper';
 install: 'RoelTyper-FredericPluquet.82';
 project: 'OCompletion';
 install: 'OcompletionSqueakCompatibility-ul.1';
 install: 'Ocompletion-ul.67'.

Useful notes:

  • Check out the squeaksource page for OCompletion to review latest versions of Levente’s code
  • Default behaviour is to switch on the ecompletionSmartCharacters preference, which results in auto-typing of matching [], (), {}, “”, ” characters. Some people may wish to switch off this preference.

Thanks to Levente for making this handy tool available in Squeak again!

Seaside 3.0 released

12 September, 2010

Following some last minute work at this year’s second Camp Smalltalk event, the Seaside developers are pleased to announce the release of Seaside 3.0 on the eve of the ESUG 2010 Conference in Barcelona.

Seaside has undergone a total overhaul, with many classes having been refactored to reduce complexity, decrease coupling, and improve flexibility. The packages in Seaside are now cleanly defined with clear relationships and interdependencies, allowing you to load only those pieces you require. There are improvements in testing, in portability and in performance, as well as much better tools for developers including the Seaside Control Panel for Pharo and Squeak, and the web-based administration interface.

For more information, see the Seaside 3.0 release announcement, or the following links:

Seaside 3.0 Detailed Release Notes
http://seaside.st/community/development/seaside30

Seaside One-Click Experience 3.0 (runs with one-click on Mac, Windows and Linux)
http://www.seaside.st/distributions/Seaside-3.0-final.app.zip

Seaside 3.0 Developer Image 3.0 (for Pharo developers)
http://www.seaside.st/distributions/Seaside-3.0-final.zip

SqueakSource Repository for Seaside 3.0
http://www.squeaksource.com/Seaside30.html

Following on from the recent release of the Seaside release candidate for 3.0, a Squeak “One-Click” image has been put together to allow you to try out the new version with—er—one click!

The new image is based on Squeak 4.1, and launches fully configured with Seaside running with Comanche on port 8080, so you can immediately see the new improved Seaside welcome page at http://localhost:8080/, with links to documentation and the Seaside book.

Seaside’s 3.0 release is faster, cleaner, better tested and has many other changes and improvements over previous releases, so it’s well worth checking out this release candidate now.

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 running on iPad

17 June, 2010

Bert Freudenberg has recently got Squeak working on the iPad, and has the video to prove it!

Bert’s work is based on John McIntosh‘s original port of the Squeak Virtual Machine to Apple’s touch-based OS, modified slightly to enable multi-touch and keyboard input. Bert also added multi-touch handling to Morphic. Interestingly, he notes that “Morphic was designed to handle multiple ‘hands’ (pointing devices) from the beginning”, so Squeak has always been multi-touch capable, and just let down by operating systems until now!

Bert’s work will help the Etoys team prepare their application for the next machine from OLPC, the XO-3, which will also be a touch device. The new version of the Sugar OS for the new device is still being developed, so it looks as though Etoys is well ahead of the curve.

Given the recent changes to Apple’s licence terms for iOS developers, it’s looking increasingly likely that we will see Squeak-based applications appearing for the iPad in the future. After a forty year wait, the Dynabook is nearly here!

Joachim  Geidel has published a preview release of JNIPort, a Smalltalk library which allows Java code to be invoked from Smalltalk. It acts as a bridge between the world of Smalltalk objects and a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) where Java code is executing.

The port to Pharo and Squeak is not yet finished: it lacks support for callbacks from Java to Smalltalk, and is a work in progress. Joachim is particularly interested in feedback from Squeak 4.1 users.

JNIPort was originally written by Chris Uppal for Dolphin Smalltalk and published under a liberal licence which permits its use in commercial and non-commercial software. Joachim Geidel originally ported JNIPort to VisualWorks in 2006 and is now building on that work to make it available to Pharo and Squeak. The goal is to publish a stable release for VisualWorks, Pharo and Squeak in Q3/2010.

In addition to giving Smalltalk programs access to Java libraries and services, the interactivity of Smalltalk makes it an ideal environment to experiment and prototype new Java functionality.

Once it’s installed, calling some Java can be as simple as three lines in your workspace:

jvm := JVM current.
class := jvm findClass: #’java.lang.System’.
class currentTimeMillis_null

Installation instructions documentation and much more information are on the JNIPort Wiki.

Juan Vuletich has been working for some time on Morphic 3, a research and development project aimed at building the next standard in 2D user interfaces. One of his aims is to do mathematically proved alias-free rendering. In order to achieve these objectives, he has been experimenting with several techniques and design features, some which are new and others are not, but have never been consistently applied to a 2D GUI.

Juan’s contention is that, although the theory behind sampling is about 80 years old, existing graphics software completely ignore the theory and that his quest for higher quality results has resulted in the idea of applying the Sampling Theory which allows for mathematically proved alias free rendering. He informed the squeak-dev mailing list of his latest post which makes the startling claim that “I developed new drawing algorithms that give better results than those in Cairo, AGG, etc.” and he has created some examples showing some of the problems with existing algorithms, and how his approach improves these issues.

Juan is preparing the algorithms for release, which will involve him publishing it in a  journal or as a Ph.D. thesis, and securing it for free use by either putting the code in the public domain or releasing it under the MIT licence.

Juan’s work on Morphic 3 is supported by ESUG’s Support Your Project programme.

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!”

Rita Freudenberg has announced that “The official Squeakfest website is now live and ready for you to propose a presentation, workshop, or panel.”

Squeakfest is an annual conference where developers and users of the Etoys media-rich authoring and experimentation environment (based on Squeak) get together to share ideas, experiences, and their enthusiasms with colleagues from around the world.

This year’s conference will be held at University of North Carolina in Wilmington, North Carolina, in the USA from 26th—28th July, and the theme for will be “Etoys in the STEM classroom.”

The conference will offer an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the NSF-funded project “Using Squeak to Infuse Technology (USeIT)” which is now reaching its 3rd year.

The team are keen to hear from individuals and groups with experience teaching with Etoys, as well as non-classroom Etoys use, particularly as it relates to OLPC pilots or homeschooling. More information will be added to the website as it becomes available, but the organisers ask presenters to get presentation information to them by completing and submitting the online form no later than 11th June, 2010.

To get a flavour of what to expect at the conference, have a look at our report from last year’s Squeakfest.

Chris Cunnington reminded the Squeak-dev mailing list that for a while now he’s been creating video tutorials explaining aspects of Squeak. In fact he’s been working at this for so long that he now has over 70 videos available!

The videos give snappy introductions to topics as varied as: using SqueakSource to download Squeak applications; the mysteries of the red, blue, and yellow mouse buttons; how to use morphs; and using Croquet to interact in 3D environments (as seen above).

If you want to learn about Squeak, or to find out more about Squeak applications you’ve never used before, these are a great resource, so head over to Chris’ Smalltalk Medicine Show channel on YouTube. If you know of other great videos for newcomers to Squeak and Smalltalk, please let us know in the comments.