Aliens coming to Squeak

8 December, 2008

Aliens approaching Squeak

John McIntosh has ported Newspeak‘s Aliens FFI implementation to Squeak. John notes that the port is in its early days, and more work and support will be needed to implement Aliens support across the full range of Squeak platforms.

As a result of this interest in Aliens, Gilad Bracha has written a post giving an overview of Aliens, the thinking that went into it, and how it works. FFI allows a programming language to make use of services written in another language, and Gilad suggests that the lack of a standard, fully-featured FFI has been an ongoing problem for Smalltalk developers. In particular, John writes that “Squeak VM’S existing FFI has been found to be buggy bloated and slow” (though see Andreas’ comments on this below).

John’s code, under the Apache licence, is available at http://www.squeaksource.com/Alien.html, and more information on his implementation can be found at the Alien swiki page.