Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk? 
Author Message
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?

I have recently "discovered" Smalltalk. PC Plus ran a some articles on
alternativ programming languages and they bundeled with Dolphin smalltalk. I
have tried a lot of languages but smalltalk impress me the most. I is just
so elegant and simple. So now I wonder why
so incredible small amount of people use it. I mean when I first saw it I
thought it looked very modern like something newly invented and
then I find out that it actually rather old. Does anyone have a good
explenatation too what went wrong?

Erik Engheim

please send me a copy of any answeres to my e-mail address, as I tend to
forget where I post.

--
There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire
become a great writer.

When asked to define "great" he said, "I want to write stuff that
the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a
truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl
in pain and anger!"

He now works for Microsoft, writing error messages.



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?
Historically, the pricing policies were quite a disincentive.  The less
expensive ones are relatively new and with a very small marketing budget.

Meanwhile Java made quite a splash with all its promises, its similarity to
C/C++ which were already quite popular, and its big marketing budget.

Victor



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?

Perhaps I'm talking out of my butt, as I was not around in the early days,
and have only been using Smalltalk for about 6 months, and quickly became
my favorite language.  I'm also made somewhat bitter by the fact that
Smalltalk isn't as popular as I think it should be, and that'll probably
show.

Anyway, here's why I think Smalltalk isn't used by everyone:

1. I've found that many programmers, in the rut of Algol-like syntax,
cannot or will not accept that there is a worthwhile language with
non-Algol syntax.  

2. Along the same lines, many programmers cannot get past the idea of
abandoning almost all the ideas of procedural programming.  C++ makes this
easy by allowing one to lapse back to it incredible easy.  One can be a
C++ programmer by doing nothing but procedural programming and design and
using various class libraries to get functionality.  What enforces this is
that most schools seem to teach the procedural paradigm first, making it a
soft pillow to return to when possible.

3. Smalltalk can be slow.  A lot of you will moan and groan about this,
but a lot of times it is.  Personally, I find Squeak (home) and VisualAge
(work) speedy enough for most anything I do.  However there are still
plenty of people, managers and coders alike, that seem to think that fast
is still good, no matter what.  With computers getting faster and faster,
this is becoming less and less of an issue.  But again, many managers and
coders alike seem to value humans less than computers, in programming with
generally more complex and inferior languages and environments, not to
mention chasing down memory leaks with whacked out malloc() and free()
calls.

4. Most schools don't teach it.  From what I hear, they used to.  Many CS
students get their degree with the idea that C is a great language, and
that C++ is the acme of OOP.  My school (University of Minnesota, Duluth)
doesn't teach it, but they used to, and paying for everything doesn't lend
it self to going to more expensive private schools or to colleges where I
wouldn't have residency.  I am honestly thinking about becoming a
professor (well, trying) with the intent of infecting acedemia once again
with Smalltalk...

5. As someone already mentioned, VisualWorks and VisualAge are expensive.
While this isn't an issue for big companies, smaller shops and shareware
developers might find the prices inhibiting.  Squeak is free, but isn't
(yet?) suited to deliverying commercial apps. Dolphin is cheap, but
confined to Windows, as is Smalltalk MT (don't know if it's cheap or not).

6. Many programmers equate "simple" (as an aspect of a language) with not
being "manly" or generally useful enough.  Witness BASIC.  This seems to
be getting better with the help of so-called scripting languages like
python and Ruby.

That's my take on things, however convoluted or lacking facts-
Aaron



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?


Sat, 08 Feb 2003 05:00:06 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?

Some comments from a non-Smalltalker (I'm interested in the language but
don't yet use it)

Quote:
> Anyway, here's why I think Smalltalk isn't used by everyone:

> 1. I've found that many programmers, in the rut of Algol-like syntax,
> cannot or will not accept that there is a worthwhile language with
> non-Algol syntax.

I would agree that if you're used to C, Java etc, Smalltalk syntax looks
very odd - I find it very hard to read. The 'syntactic sugar' in other
languages gives a lot of visual clues about what is what.

Quote:
> 2. Along the same lines, many programmers cannot get past the idea of
> abandoning almost all the ideas of procedural programming.

Perhaps less of a problem for Java programmers...maybe.

Quote:
> 3. Smalltalk can be slow.  
> 4. Most schools don't teach it.
> 5. As someone already mentioned, VisualWorks and VisualAge are expensive.
> While this isn't an issue for big companies, smaller shops and shareware
> developers might find the prices inhibiting.  Squeak is free, but isn't
> (yet?) suited to deliverying commercial apps. Dolphin is cheap, but
> confined to Windows, as is Smalltalk MT (don't know if it's cheap or not).

Yes. Compare with Java - One can download Sun's SDK for free and start
producing commercial apps.
I downloaded Squeak and frankly it put me right off - it looks awful -
feels like going back to some strage hybrid of the BBC Micro and Word
for MSDOS.  

The range and quality of on-line examples and tutorials for Java is
great and I've not seen anything as good for Smalltalk.  Since Smalltalk
seems to use a rather different development environment to the ones
people will be used to, as well as being a different language, you've
got to make the transition as easy as possible.

Quote:
> 6. Many programmers equate "simple" (as an aspect of a language) with not
> being "manly" or generally useful enough.

David.


Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?


Quote:
> I have recently "discovered" smalltalk. PC Plus ran a some articles on
> alternativ programming languages and they bundeled with Dolphin smalltalk.
I
> have tried a lot of languages but smalltalk impress me the most. I is just
> so elegant and simple. So now I wonder why
> so incredible small amount of people use it. I mean when I first saw it I
> thought it looked very modern like something newly invented and
> then I find out that it actually rather old. Does anyone have a good
> explenatation too what went wrong?

The truth is that Smalltalk is probably the worst marketed language in
existence. Where as Perl and Python and Reebol have been superlatively
marketed:

# The language owners have defined clear niches for their languages where
they could quickly prove their worth to all sorts of organziations at very
low risk. Learning enough Perl to write a useful script and writing the
script takes a couple of days; learning Smalltalk is equally fast but the
projects Smalltalk is thought of as being suitable for normally have a much
longer timespan. Smalltalk might have had a huge use base right now if
someone had launched a version aimed at CGI scripting even three years; now
the OO cgi script niche has been taken by Python.

# Perl in particular has been supported by superb books and a wonderfully
well organized community. Python does pretty well here as well.

# Language developers have not thought enough about the impact of the
all-embracing Smalltalk environment on programmers trying out Smalltalk for
the first time. Without mentoring, and with books hard to get, the
programmer who has just downloaded Smalltalk form the Net can find the
environment confusing and bewildering - Python's minimal IDE is much easier
to get to grips with. This stage probably lasts only a day or two, but
that's the important time period if you're trying to spread a language to
new users.

# Python, Perl and Rebol all have free versions that are not just
well-suited to doing useful work. Consequently they are widely used, and
have been widely supported with libraries and extension modules.

#onathan



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?
I absolutely agree with the points you are making. I have also seen how
Java spread like a disease, kicking Smalltalk off schedules. The real
revolution hasn't happened so far in IT. Smalltalk will certainly be the
next step. Watch the development from C to C++, followed by Java. So
what will come next. besides, no development environment is more
effective and efficient than Smalltalk. No development environment
allows proper software engineering like Smalltalk. The time will be ripe
for a good idea. It simply will take some 5 more years. I am absolutely
confident, that Smalltalk will eventually spread, even to small
businesses.
Quote:

> Perhaps I'm talking out of my butt, as I was not around in the early days,
> and have only been using Smalltalk for about 6 months, and quickly became
> my favorite language.  I'm also made somewhat bitter by the fact that
> Smalltalk isn't as popular as I think it should be, and that'll probably
> show.

> Anyway, here's why I think Smalltalk isn't used by everyone:

> 1. I've found that many programmers, in the rut of Algol-like syntax,
> cannot or will not accept that there is a worthwhile language with
> non-Algol syntax.

> 2. Along the same lines, many programmers cannot get past the idea of
> abandoning almost all the ideas of procedural programming.  C++ makes this
> easy by allowing one to lapse back to it incredible easy.  One can be a
> C++ programmer by doing nothing but procedural programming and design and
> using various class libraries to get functionality.  What enforces this is
> that most schools seem to teach the procedural paradigm first, making it a
> soft pillow to return to when possible.

> 3. Smalltalk can be slow.  A lot of you will moan and groan about this,
> but a lot of times it is.  Personally, I find Squeak (home) and VisualAge
> (work) speedy enough for most anything I do.  However there are still
> plenty of people, managers and coders alike, that seem to think that fast
> is still good, no matter what.  With computers getting faster and faster,
> this is becoming less and less of an issue.  But again, many managers and
> coders alike seem to value humans less than computers, in programming with
> generally more complex and inferior languages and environments, not to
> mention chasing down memory leaks with whacked out malloc() and free()
> calls.

> 4. Most schools don't teach it.  From what I hear, they used to.  Many CS
> students get their degree with the idea that C is a great language, and
> that C++ is the acme of OOP.  My school (University of Minnesota, Duluth)
> doesn't teach it, but they used to, and paying for everything doesn't lend
> it self to going to more expensive private schools or to colleges where I
> wouldn't have residency.  I am honestly thinking about becoming a
> professor (well, trying) with the intent of infecting acedemia once again
> with Smalltalk...

> 5. As someone already mentioned, VisualWorks and VisualAge are expensive.
> While this isn't an issue for big companies, smaller shops and shareware
> developers might find the prices inhibiting.  Squeak is free, but isn't
> (yet?) suited to deliverying commercial apps. Dolphin is cheap, but
> confined to Windows, as is Smalltalk MT (don't know if it's cheap or not).

> 6. Many programmers equate "simple" (as an aspect of a language) with not
> being "manly" or generally useful enough.  Witness BASIC.  This seems to
> be getting better with the help of so-called scripting languages like
> Python and Ruby.

> That's my take on things, however convoluted or lacking facts-
> Aaron



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?

Quote:

> 1. I've found that many programmers, in the rut of Algol-like syntax,
> cannot or will not accept that there is a worthwhile language with
> non-Algol syntax.

The question has to be, why would you use Smalltalk?  What motivates
programmers to learn a new language?  What motivated you?

What motivated me was a desire to learn object oriented programming, and it
made sense to me that the best way to do that was to learn with a language
designed from the start to be object oriented.  The only one I knew of at the
time, that didn't provide an opportunity to slide back into my comfort zone of
C, was Smalltalk.

Regarding the speed issue, I remember there were things I needed to do in C
that weren't as fast as I wanted them to be so I programmed some modules in
assembly.  But as you say, processors have gotten faster which mitigates the
need for assembly, so I've found a combination of Smalltalk and C to be
fantastically productive.



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?

Quote:

> I absolutely agree with the points you are making. I have also seen how
> Java spread like a disease, kicking Smalltalk off schedules. The real
> revolution hasn't happened so far in IT. Smalltalk will certainly be the
> next step. Watch the development from C to C++, followed by Java. So
> what will come next. besides, no development environment is more
> effective and efficient than Smalltalk.

So, where can I try a fully-featured, easy-to-use, well supported and
documented Smalltalk development environment _for free_?

I can't, can I?

This is a big reason why people start learning Java instead, even if
they _have_ heard of Smalltalk.  Because starting out in Java is easy
(for anyone with C or C++ experience) and free.

Quote:
> No development environment
> allows proper software engineering like Smalltalk. The time will be ripe
> for a good idea. It simply will take some 5 more years. I am absolutely
> confident, that Smalltalk will eventually spread, even to small
> businesses.

I just don't see it happening at the moment unless there are some big
changes.

Regards,

David.



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?
David,

Quote:
> So, where can I try a fully-featured, easy-to-use, well supported and
> documented Smalltalk development environment _for free_?

> I can't, can I?

Perhaps not, but, you can get REALLY close.  My preference is Dolphin, and
Object Arts has a version of Dolphin that is free.  The commercial version
is very reasonably priced, and the documentation is really quite good.
Where the docs fall off, the newsgroup more than compensates, even for the
free version, especially since the archives contain older posts from the
days when the now free version (essentially) was the latest commercial
offering.

SmalltalkExpress seems to have vaporized (at least temporarily) with Object
Share?????   That's a shame, because it is/was very well documented, and it
is/was free.

Quote:
> This is a big reason why people start learning Java instead, even if
> they _have_ heard of Smalltalk.  Because starting out in Java is easy
> (for anyone with C or C++ experience) and free.

With respect, I disagree.  Anyone looking around would discover free
Smalltalks.  The early betas of Dolphin were good enough to keep my
attention, and the version that's available free now is quite impressive.
The problems are more with "Java is cool" and "it's hard to get Smalltalk
developers, so why start" arguments.  Another recurring problem is that
commercial versions were uniformly expensive; Dolphin and MT help a lot in
this area.

Bill

--
Wilhelm K. Schwab, Ph.D.



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?

Quote:

> So, where can I try a fully-featured, easy-to-use, well supported and
> documented Smalltalk development environment _for free_?

http://www.object-arts.com/Downloads/2.1/Downloads.htm

http://www.cincom.com/smalltalk/downloads.html

http://www.exept.de/exept_99/english/welcomeFrame_smalltalk.html

http://www.gemstone.com/products/s/Linux/index.html

You might also check http://www.smalltalk.org/versions.html for a
complete list of available ST versions.  All of the above meet
your requirements as stated, I believe.  Other companies have
try before you buy available, and there are also several totally
free versions of varying use and maturity.

I'm not sure why there is this persistent idea that it is easier
to get started with Java using the free JDK from Sun, than to
use a robust environment like VWNC, with a full IDE, or to use
Squeak, which has a thriving online community.  Perhaps we need
to get O'Reilly to commission "Smalltalk in a Nutshell".

-Christopher



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?

Quote:

> I have recently "discovered" smalltalk. PC Plus ran a some articles on
> alternativ programming languages and they bundeled with Dolphin smalltalk. I
> have tried a lot of languages but smalltalk impress me the most. I is just
> so elegant and simple. So now I wonder why
> so incredible small amount of people use it. I mean when I first saw it I
> thought it looked very modern like something newly invented and
> then I find out that it actually rather old. Does anyone have a good
> explenatation too what went wrong?

Just a slight step-back. This question is not just asked in smalltalk
groups but too e.g in comp.lang.eiffel, comp.lang.lisp, comp.lang.functional,
comp.lang.scheme. I guess the reasons are somewhat simular.

1) everybody uses everything else, but you favourite language;-)
2) one point may be that free implementations are not availab.e.
3) on comp.lang.lisp one once stated that people are not talking about
what language they use, because a) the customer should not know b)
competitors should not know.
4) shortcomings in different languages. E.g Lisp is often critizized
because of their usage of braces, Haskell e.g lacks IMHO some
comfortable programming environment, Eiffel compilers are expensive
and SmallEiffel is not as sophisticated than others.... You can be
nearly sure that if you have some problem, some software will be
around written in C to help you solving you problem.
5) millions of old software packages often are often written in
something else but Smalltalk and very much new software is too written
nowadays in C/C++ and/or Java. Java is a bit outstanding because it
has taken over a large market share in extremly short time.
6) preferences of programmers. If one starts with some imperative
language one if often to lazy to change later.
7) The large corporations have often C/C++ compilers, Basic Interpreters etc in
their offers but hardly Eiffel, Common Lisp, Haskell, ML ... Of course
this is not true for Smalltalk
8) extension to extisting software packages (like Office Package) often
prefer providing some sort of Basic, and the functionality of
Spreadsheets, Databases etc is overwhelming and get together
small utilities in no time. (exceptions of the rule
seems to be (X)Emacs which uses a lisp dialect.

A lot of other reasons were mentioned but I do think it does not help
anyone. If you like Smalltalk, go for it. If in doubt learn another
language don't forget to include in your list not just languages from
one paradigm like e.g imperative but include functional languages,
languages which combine different programming styles etc.

A point which I forgot to mention is that it probably takes few time
to start learning a language but to really master a languages it takes
much more time. If one is a full-time programmer, I would think there
is not much time left to step back and look on what you're really
doing. And time for learning a new language is probably hardly to
find...

Regards
Friedrich

--
for e-mail reply remove all after .com



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?

Quote:


> > So, where can I try a fully-featured, easy-to-use, well supported and
> > documented Smalltalk development environment _for free_?

> http://www.object-arts.com/Downloads/2.1/Downloads.htm
> http://www.cincom.com/smalltalk/downloads.html
> http://www.exept.de/exept_99/english/welcomeFrame_smalltalk.html
> http://www.gemstone.com/products/s/Linux/index.html

Thanks for the pointers!

Quote:
> I'm not sure why there is this persistent idea that it is easier
> to get started with Java using the free JDK from Sun, than to
> use a robust environment like VWNC, with a full IDE, or to use
> Squeak, which has a thriving online community.  

It seems to me that you have the combination of a very different syntax
and a very different development environment all at once (and as far as
I can gather, a very different way of organising files and classes and
changes?) all at once, which is naturally offputting to someone who just
wants to try out a new language.  

When you start Java you download and install it, type in a HelloWorld
program from a tutorial, in your favourite text editor, type 'javac
HelloWorld.java' and 'java HelloWorld' and you're away.  It's all very
familiar to a C programmer (as is the syntax, to a large extent).

Download Squeak and you're faced with strange multicoloured windows with
an alien look-and-feel, menus which mean little to the uninitiated, and
a couple of minimal help files (and Squeak webpages which tell you that
the Squeak documentation is poor!) Perhaps the other Smalltalks you
mention are easier to get started on.

I also get the impression that you have to settle on a version of
Smalltalk  _and_ a particular development environment, all slightly
incompatible (true/false??) compared with one definitive Sun JDK for
Java.

Is there any Smalltalk documentation equivalent to Sun's Java Tutorials
(with all the Trails etc...) ?

Regards,

David.



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?

Quote:

> So, where can I try a fully-featured, easy-to-use, well supported and
> documented Smalltalk development environment _for free_?

A quick web search would reveal several options.

Quote:
> I can't, can I?

Sure you can. As far as commercial environments go, there are several you
can choose from:

o IBM's free Try & Buy of VisualAge
o Cincom's NC version of VisualWorks and ObjectStudio
o Object Art's free version of Dolphin
o Object Connect's free eval of Smalltalk MT
o Gemstone's NC version
o etc.

For non-commercial environments, you can choose from:

o Squeak
o Smalltalk Express
o GNU Smalltalk
o etc.

-Eric



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 Why doesn't everybody use smalltalk?

Quote:



> > So, where can I try a fully-featured, easy-to-use, well supported and
> > documented Smalltalk development environment _for free_?

> A quick web search would reveal several options.

Oddly, my initial browsing found pages which gave the impression that
Squeak was the only free Smalltalk, so I didn't look further. Clearly
this is not the case, though...8-)

Cheers,

David.



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 
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