Newbie question about worth of specializing in Smalltalk 
Author Message
 Newbie question about worth of specializing in Smalltalk

I've been asked to look into a legacy Smalltalk app in our group.  I
know
nothing about Smalltalk other than that its a OO language with english
like syntax.  My background is Systems Engineering with some sofware
development experience, but mostly integration.

My original take on this project was to get it converted into C++ or
java
and go from there with our in-house expertise in these languages.
Another reason is that we pay a yearly develpment license for
Smalltalk which is
not exactly cheap (in terms of our group's budget).

The other option it to come to speed on Smalltalk.

So my question is given the proliferation of C++ and java, do I want
to spend
the next 6months learning Smalltalk to some level of proficiency and
making
a (temp) career move into this ie. Is it worth it for me, as opposed
to just the technical merit of Smalltalk vs C++.

Any responses appreciated,
Gurvinder.



Sun, 24 Apr 2005 01:16:47 GMT  
 Newbie question about worth of specializing in Smalltalk

Quote:

> My original take on this project was to get it converted into C++ or
> java
> and go from there with our in-house expertise in these languages.

Understanding that I (and probably most others on this newsgroup) have a
very pro-Smalltalk bias, I'll try to give you as objective an answer as
I can.

The feasibility of converting any software package from one language to
another clearly depends on the size and complexity of the package. In
general, conversion to another language is a difficult project and
requires good knowledge of both languages.  Simply re-writing from
scratch is sometimes easier.

Converting from Smalltalk to C++ is complicated by C++'s lack of a
garbage collector.  You'll find that Smalltalk applications generally
depend heavily on the garbage collector.

Converting from Smalltalk to either C++ or Java would run into static
type declarations.  Smalltalk has no static type declarations permitting
all variables to be dynamically typed instead.  Java and C++ require
type declarations on all variables.

Quote:
> Another reason is that we pay a yearly develpment license for
> Smalltalk which is
> not exactly cheap (in terms of our group's budget).

This can be a valid consideration.  Which dialect of Smalltalk do you
use?  Your vendor may be able to offer better options for your project.
  Contact your sales rep.

Quote:
> The other option it to come to speed on Smalltalk.

In my experience, the speed of Smalltalk is the least of your worries.
There's a perception that Smalltalk is slow compared to C++ or Java.
This is unfounded for the most part.  If you have algorithms that do
heavy floating point calculations or bit manipulations, it may be slower
than C++. I wrote a Smalltalk ray-tracer (graphics renderer) which was 5
times slower than POV-Ray (a C ray-tracer with heavy optimization).

I have (on several occasions) written performance critical sections of a
system in C and interfaced to it from Smalltalk.  This is an effective
solution even if the C code is harder to maintain than the Smalltalk
code.  Smalltalk development tools are far superior to those in any
other language (no exageration).

For normal business processing, however, Smalltalk is very close in
speed to C++.

Quote:
> So my question is given the proliferation of C++ and java, do I want
> to spend
> the next 6months learning Smalltalk to some level of proficiency and
> making
> a (temp) career move into this ie. Is it worth it for me, as opposed
> to just the technical merit of Smalltalk vs C++.

Ultimately, you are the only one who can make that choice.  I would
suggest that learning Smalltalk would be a valuable investment even if
it was only to improve your programming techniques in other languages.
If it's any re-assurance, we are seeing a re-bound in Smalltalk
popularity recently and I expect that to continue.  At our shop, I tell
managers that we don't need to hire someone with Smalltalk skills - just
someone with programming skills. Smalltalk is quite easy for us to teach
to a new person. You situation may differ.

I generally find that converting large amounts of software from one
language to another is a waste of time.  It's more cost effective to
maintain it in the original language than to try porting or re-writing it.

I'm not worried about the future of Smalltalk at this point (a few years
ago was a different story).

David Buck
Simberon Inc.
www.simberon.com



Sun, 24 Apr 2005 02:28:14 GMT  
 Newbie question about worth of specializing in Smalltalk
Hi:
<bias>
Come up to speed in Smalltalk.  Then you will be able to be 3 to 5
times as productive as your Java colleagues.
</bias>

Quote:

> I've been asked to look into a legacy Smalltalk app in our group.  I
> know
> nothing about Smalltalk other than that its a OO language with
> english
> like syntax.  My background is Systems Engineering with some sofware
> development experience, but mostly integration.

> My original take on this project was to get it converted into C++ or
> java
> and go from there with our in-house expertise in these languages.
> Another reason is that we pay a yearly develpment license for
> Smalltalk which is
> not exactly cheap (in terms of our group's budget).

> The other option it to come to speed on Smalltalk.

> So my question is given the proliferation of C++ and java, do I want
> to spend
> the next 6months learning Smalltalk to some level of proficiency and
> making
> a (temp) career move into this ie. Is it worth it for me, as opposed
> to just the technical merit of Smalltalk vs C++.

> Any responses appreciated,
> Gurvinder.

--
Thanks!!
Joseph Bacanskas [|]
--- I use Smalltalk.  My amp goes to eleven.


Sun, 24 Apr 2005 13:40:51 GMT  
 Newbie question about worth of specializing in Smalltalk
I would not normally advise spending much time on a legacy
application. Typical factors to consider would normally include
quality/quantity of the design, test, validation, source code
documentation etc. is there much evidence of continous use of standard
design methodology and source code change control throughout the life
cycle?

Typical indicators of potential difficulties expected in rapid
application development may be incomplete/inconsistent documentation,
poor source code management, methods too long, classes with large
numbers of instance variables, copies of classes into subclasses, no
evidence of refactoring (ie of RefactoringBrowser) or storage in long
lived system like SourceSafe for easy retrieval by anybody...

Quote:

> I've been asked to look into a legacy Smalltalk app in our group.  I
> know
> nothing about Smalltalk other than that its a OO language with english
> like syntax.  My background is Systems Engineering with some sofware
> development experience, but mostly integration.

> My original take on this project was to get it converted into C++ or
> java
> and go from there with our in-house expertise in these languages.
> Another reason is that we pay a yearly develpment license for
> Smalltalk which is
> not exactly cheap (in terms of our group's budget).

> The other option it to come to speed on Smalltalk.

> So my question is given the proliferation of C++ and java, do I want
> to spend
> the next 6months learning Smalltalk to some level of proficiency and
> making
> a (temp) career move into this ie. Is it worth it for me, as opposed
> to just the technical merit of Smalltalk vs C++.

> Any responses appreciated,
> Gurvinder.



Wed, 27 Apr 2005 00:25:32 GMT  
 Newbie question about worth of specializing in Smalltalk
David

David Buck schrieb:

Quote:
> [lots of good stuff deleted here]

> In my experience, the speed of Smalltalk is the least of your worries.

I would like to underline this. Most business applications wait for the user
most of the time. It's not really important how fast they do that...

Quote:
>  At our shop, I tell
> managers that we don't need to hire someone with Smalltalk skills - just
> someone with programming skills. Smalltalk is quite easy for us to teach
> to a new person.

What are your experiences here?
A) with the managers
B) with people hired without Smalltalk skills?

I often hear of people quite unwilling to learn Smalltalk as they think of it
as being legacy, outdated, kinda the COBOL of the nineties ;-)

Quote:
> I generally find that converting large amounts of software from one
> language to another is a waste of time.  It's more cost effective to
> maintain it in the original language than to try porting or re-writing it.

Unfortunately, many companies tried to do exactly this. They planned to go
away from Smalltalk to Java. Many of them just bought the latest versions of
their Smalltalk IDE lately as the results of their porting efforts were
A) expensive
B) unmaintainable
C) unusable

Quote:
> I'm not worried about the future of Smalltalk at this point (a few years
> ago was a different story).

I see it simirlar, though the situation still needs to improve.
joe


Sun, 22 May 2005 03:56:44 GMT  
 
 [ 5 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 

1. Newbie Question (Was: Newbie Question...)

2. Programmer Analyst - Smalltalk, Perl, RDBMS - Dallas-Fort Worth Airport

3. Smalltalk jobs - Fort Worth

4. Smalltalk Programmers needed in Ft. Worth, Texas

5. US-TX-FT.WORTH *SMALLTALK/ VISUAL AGE* developer needed

6. US-TX-FT.WORTH *SMALLTALK/ VISUAL AGE* developer needed

7. US-TX-FT.WORTH *SMALLTALK/ VISUAL AGE* developer needed

8. a newbie question for smalltalk

9. smalltalk/x on linux (newbie question)

10. Smalltalk rocks, and a newbie question ( nested loops ).

11. Smalltalk Newbie Question

12. Yer basic newbie smalltalk question (squeakish)

 

 
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software