Advantages of Smalltalk over Java 
Author Message
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

I was looking to learn Smalltalk, but I'm thinking of learning
Java instead.  

Apart from developing environments and class libraries, what are
the differences between Smalltalk and Java?  I don't know either
very well, but from here they both seem very similar.  Given the
immediate widespread acceptance of Java, will it kill Smalltalk?

Richard



Sat, 08 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

Quote:

>I was looking to learn Smalltalk, but I'm thinking of learning
>Java instead.  

>Apart from developing environments and class libraries, what are
>the differences between Smalltalk and Java?  I don't know either
>very well, but from here they both seem very similar.  Given the
>immediate widespread acceptance of Java, will it kill Smalltalk?

>Richard

Speaking as Smalltalk wannabe who has also read the Java Language Spec (so
this makes me as far away from as expert as possible), I doubt that it
will kill Smalltalk. Practically speaking, when was the last time you
heard of a language dying? fortran and ALGOL are still around. BASIC made
a comeback. Even languages that deserve to die (which will remain nameless
but whose initials are COBOL ;> ) are{*filter*} on!

Seriously, it really is too early to assess the Java-Smalltalk competition
(and why not also ask if Java will kill C++ and VB?).

chuck hinkle
Shell Services Co.

"Perception is usually more persuasive than reality."



Sat, 08 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

Quote:

>>I was looking to learn Smalltalk, but I'm thinking of learning
>>Java instead.  

>>Apart from developing environments and class libraries, what are
>>the differences between Smalltalk and Java?  I don't know either
>>very well, but from here they both seem very similar.  Given the
>>immediate widespread acceptance of Java, will it kill Smalltalk?

>>Richard

>Speaking as Smalltalk wannabe who has also read the Java Language Spec (so
>this makes me as far away from as expert as possible), I doubt that it
>will kill Smalltalk. Practically speaking, when was the last time you
>heard of a language dying? FORTRAN and ALGOL are still around. BASIC made
>a comeback. Even languages that deserve to die (which will remain nameless
>but whose initials are COBOL ;> ) are{*filter*} on!

>Seriously, it really is too early to assess the Java-Smalltalk competition
>(and why not also ask if Java will kill C++ and VB?).

*** FLAME GENERATOR WARNING ON ***

Java is a "Better C++". (See the Java docs -- it's what they claim even
if not in so may words.) It has many of the problems of C++ (but not
all), none of any possible speed advantage, isn't fully object-oriented
(even though they say it is), and has NO install base or track record.

Smalltalk is a fully object-oriented language (the one against which all
others measure their oo-ness), and has a significant install base, a
track record, and multiple-vendor support.

However, the two languages have very different goals and characteristics.

* Java is intended for applications where a small footprint is critical.
Smalltalk has a large footprint on purpose.

* Smalltalk comes with an integrated and extensible development
environment. Java has none at all (though vendors will be forced to add
something.)

* If Java kills Smalltalk, it won't be because of Java's language design
elegance -- it's an ugly subset of C++ and takes no advantage of objects
within the language.

And one could go on and on.

To me, the critical thing is Java's lack of any install base or track
record. All we have is claims from a group that has does its best to hype
its product beyond reason. Now, the underlying technology is neat, and
Gosling is very smart and is not resposible for the hype and reality,
when finally revealed in its fullness, may well be quite interesting.

A year from now there will be real Java development systems, an install
base, and the beginnings of a track record. The track record is crucial.
Until we see how it performs in real-world situations we can't really
make judgements about what Java is good for or how well it lives up to
its claims.

*** FLAME GENERATOR WARNING OFF ***

Dave

__________________________________
David N. Smith



IBM T J Watson Research Center
Hawthorne, NY
__________________________________
Any opinions or recommendations
herein are those of the author  
and not of his employer.



Sun, 09 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

Quote:

> I was looking to learn Smalltalk, but I'm thinking of learning
> Java instead.

> Apart from developing environments and class libraries, what are
> the differences between Smalltalk and Java?  I don't know either
> very well, but from here they both seem very similar.  Given the
> immediate widespread acceptance of Java, will it kill Smalltalk?

Java and Smalltalk serve completely different purposes, although they
both use the object-oriented paradigm as a basis.

Java provides certain features that Smalltalk doesn't and vice versa.
E.g. security in the sense of viruses, trojan horses etc. played a major
role in the design of Java.

On the other hand, you wouldn't want your sensitive data to leave your
server at all. For this kind of secure application you need a powerful
and scalable client/server architecture.

The bottom line is that Smalltalk and Java are both needed and useful in
their respective domains. Besides, Java is not yet as mature as
Smalltalk, so for _learning_ OO concepts you should always take the
latter.

Hasko
--
+------------------------------------------------------+
| Hasko Heinecke, Georg Heeg - Object-Oriented Systems |

+------------------------------------------------------+



Sun, 09 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

Quote:
David writes:
>>Smalltalk has a large footprint on purpose.<<

This is *major* problem with Smalltalk (any flavor) and it's not clear to
me there is anything in Smalltalk as an EBNF that requires it. "On
purpose?" Small is beautiful. Java is trying to fill a breach made
available because of short-comings in ST; if we had the bases covered;
this never would have come down. Smalltalk is perfect ofr Avatars, etc.
but it's too fat. It's that simple. What we need (instead of Java) is a
better, faster, *smaller*, version of Smalltalk....

Regards,
DS
Reality is its own reward.



Sun, 09 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

Quote:

> * Java is intended for applications where a small footprint is critical.
> Smalltalk has a large footprint on purpose.

Sounds like a large footprint is a virtue in some cases :-)

Actually, I agree that all the relevant factors are not out yet,
although I will predict that Java will be quite a competitor for
shrinkwrap apps especially when the people like Borland begin to
wrap a development system around it. I've seen some of the net
graphing apps supporting stock market data (Relative Strength
Indicators et al) and they are quite impressive.

To my mind one of the interesting linguistic differences will
strongly typed Java vs. untyped Smalltalk.

--
Charles L. Robinson
Datec Inc.
333 W. Wacker Drive, Suite 1040
Chicago, Ill. 60606-1225
Voice: (312)629-0880
Fax: (312)629-0883



Mon, 10 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

Quote:

> I was looking to learn Smalltalk, but I'm thinking of learning
> Java instead.

> Apart from developing environments and class libraries, what are
> the differences between Smalltalk and Java?  I don't know either
> very well, but from here they both seem very similar.  Given the
> immediate widespread acceptance of Java, will it kill Smalltalk?

My cute phrase is "Java is 80% better than C++ but 20% worse than
Smalltalk". Many who've been using C++ will enjoy the increased
simplicity of language rules and runtime support. Most who've been
using Smalltalk will miss the expressiveness and simplicity
of the Smalltalk language and (for the time being, at least) the
power and quality of the incremental development environment.

As others have pointed out Java is too new to know for sure what it's
limitations are. There is not even an accurate definition of the
language yet. (Thankfully Guy Steele is involved now with that.)

As far as I can tell:

* It is clearly a language that can hang around for ten or twenty
years to be used in all kinds of situations. If C and C++ can be so
widely used, certainly Java can.

* There will be cut-throat competition to provide great, low cost,
interactive Java environments for general purpose desktop and server
applications. Unlike Smalltalk. 8(

* There will be many developers providing all kinds of general and special
purpose free/GPL/shareware software. Much like with C and C++ today.

* There will be a lot of real bad software developed with it, just like
any other language.

There is a lot more I could speculate about but the biggest misconception
is to confuse the HotJava/Netscape-style Java-applet browser with the
general capabilities of the Java language. Just like the early vendor and
developers who adopted C++ around 1988-1990, the early momentum of Java
will force all the other "players" to want not to be left out of the race.

At least this time the language is just that much better, and maybe the
language and runtime is in hands that are just that much more capable that
the rising tide will either lift Smalltalk too or lead to something even
better than Java or Smalltalk in the long run.


There are people in the Java world arguing about "enums" and "templates"!

The more things change, the more... well, you know.

--

(503) 264-9309, FAX: (503) 264-3375

"Poor design is a major culprit in the software crisis...
...Beyond the tenets of structured programming, few accepted...
standards stipulate what software systems should be like [in] detail..."
-IEEE Computer, August 1995, Bruce W. Weide



Mon, 10 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

Quote:

: David writes:

: >>Smalltalk has a large footprint on purpose.<<

: This is *major* problem with Smalltalk (any flavor) and it's not clear to
: me there is anything in Smalltalk as an EBNF that requires it. "On
: purpose?" Small is beautiful. Java is trying to fill a breach made
: available because of short-comings in ST; if we had the bases covered;
: this never would have come down. Smalltalk is perfect ofr Avatars, etc.
: but it's too fat. It's that simple. What we need (instead of Java) is a
: better, faster, *smaller*, version of Smalltalk....

Of course, add up a Java applet aware browser, Java, classes, and you're
not so small anymore ...

--
Patrick Mueller  | IBM Software Solutions, RTP NC; 919-254-4307, tie 444

                 | home page (for IBMers): http://pmuellr.raleigh.ibm.com



Mon, 10 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

Quote:
>Actually, I agree that all the relevant factors are not out yet,
>although I will predict that Java will be quite a competitor for
>shrinkwrap apps especially when the people like Borland begin to
>wrap a development system around it. I've seen some of the net
>graphing apps supporting stock market data (Relative Strength
>Indicators et al) and they are quite impressive.

Anyone remember MBA? It was a fine package very similar to Lotus 1-2-3
which beat Lotus to market by 6 months or more and got a LOT of
attention. It had one problem. It was written in interpretive UCSD
Pascal. 1-2-3 was hand coded assembler. MBA was slow. 1-2-3 was fast. MBA
was never heard from again. 1-2-3 made Mitch Kapor and his friends rich.

While it is true that we've added many orders of magnitude to processor
speed, we've also raised the bar a lot too. Most applications tend to
ride the limits of their users speed tolerance, especially on machines
slower than those used by the apps developers.

Java may run into the same kind of problem with shrink-wrapped
applications. Compared to one written in C++, it's slow. And on high
volume platforms there is lots of incentive for the developers to make
applications fast before someone else does it and steals their market.

So, where might java really fit? Apps with little computation. Apps with
cross-platform goals and no large volumes of sales on any one platform.
Apps that have to be downloaded to an arbitrary platform across the net
and run right now.  IE, places where it strengths are not cancelled by
its weaknesses.

And don't forget, to achieve cross-platform apps and maintain a small
footprint, java must have a least-common denominator interface to
graphics, networks, disks, etc. Snazzy apps, however, tend to take
advantage of platform-exclusive features. So, no snazzy, {*filter*} apps in
java...

Dave

__________________________________
David N. Smith



IBM T J Watson Research Center
Hawthorne, NY
__________________________________
Any opinions or recommendations
herein are those of the author  
and not of his employer.



Tue, 11 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java
RE: Java's potential vs. Smalltalk,
Quote:
>>My cute phrase is "Java is 80% better than C++ but 20% worse than

Smalltalk". Many who've been using C++ will enjoy the increased
simplicity of language rules and runtime support. Most who've been
using Smalltalk will miss the expressiveness and simplicity
of the Smalltalk language and (for the time being, at least) the
power and quality of the incremental development environment.<<

You left out the one selling point that got me hooked, namely the
footprint. Smalltalk of any flavor sucks in that regard. And it's not
getting any better. I don't see anything inherent in Smalltalk that keeps
it so fat but it's a prisoner of its past.
Java exists because Smalltalk failed to adapt to the small platform.  

You also left out another interesting fact: Java has no pointers. So it's
pretty different from C, C++ and Smalltalk, too, in that regard. Is this a
weakness or a plus?

DS

Reality is its own reward.



Thu, 13 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java
|> You left out the one selling point that got me hooked, namely the
|> footprint. Smalltalk of any flavor sucks in that regard.
              ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
No to me.

|> Java exists because Smalltalk failed to adapt to the small platform.  

Do you consider an oscilloscope a BIG plateform? I am asking you this, because
Smalltalk has been used in real-time/embedded systems by Texas Instruments Inc.,
Tektronix Inc., Allen Bradley, and HP. I think this is part of many misconceptions
about Smalltalk, that partly originated from first implementations of this language
& environment. I think you should have a look at the analysis by IDC, named
"Smalltalk Market Accelerates". It shows that Smalltalk is the fastest growing OO
language market. My opinion is that many people are now very interested in Smalltalk
because it is simple and powerful, and because many drawbacks of the first implementa-
tions have gone.

As far as the success of Java goes, I think it has nothing to do with what you are saying.
I rather believe that its connection to the web technology and to C++ (which is known to
have been the blind choice of many industries, just the same way ms-dos was) is the reason
why it has such a big success. And also probably because it borrowed many brilliant ideas
from Smalltalk: interpretation, an uniform way of accessing objects and automatic memory
management; those two last points come down to say that there are no pointers in Java, just
as in Smalltalk.

|> You also left out another interesting fact: Java has no pointers. So it's
|> pretty different from C, C++ and Smalltalk
                                    ^^^^^^^^^
So, Smalltalk has pointers? (see my comment above)

I have a question which I urge you to take as NOT sarcastic because it is not: did you
ever program in Smalltalk?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Benoit Garbinato

Computer Science Department              (DI)   phone:  + 41 21 693 52 74
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology    (EPFL) fax:    + 41 21 693 67 70
CH-1015 LAUSANNE
(Switzerland)



Fri, 14 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

Quote:

>I was looking to learn Smalltalk, but I'm thinking of learning
>Java instead.  

>Apart from developing environments and class libraries, what are
>the differences between Smalltalk and Java?  I don't know either
>very well, but from here they both seem very similar.  Given the
>immediate widespread acceptance of Java, will it kill Smalltalk?

I recently took a long hard look at the MovingWorlds Specification
(i.e vrml 2.0). Java (and even C) already have the bindings to
take advantage of the proposed ScriptNodes. What this basically
means is that objects existing in data-rich 3D vrml worlds existing on servers
throughout the internet can be manipulated using Java from across the
internet.

So far I have not seen any way in which Smalltalk (my favoured language)
can quickly get in on the action and I haven't heard of any paths being
set down by either PPD or IBM.

In the end it may not boil down to a case of which language is better but
which is ready for what is basically distributed 3-D visualisation of
information across the internet today rather than tomorrow.

I'd be interested to hear (sorry, see) anyones comments.



Fri, 14 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

Quote:

>I was looking to learn Smalltalk, but I'm thinking of learning
>Java instead.  
> Given the
>immediate widespread acceptance of Java, will it kill Smalltalk?

I recently took a long hard look at the MovingWorlds Specification
(i.e VRML 2.0). Java (and even C) already have the bindings to
take advantage of the proposed ScriptNodes. What this basically
means is that objects existing in data-rich 3D vrml worlds existing on servers
throughout the internet can be manipulated using Java... from across the
internet.

So far I have not seen any way in which Smalltalk (my favoured language)
can quickly get in on the action and I haven't heard of any paths being
set down by either PPD or IBM.

In the end it may not boil down to a case of which language is better but
which is ready for what is basically distributed 3-D visualisation of
information across the internet today rather than tomorrow.

I'd be interested to learn from any comments.

Joe TekNomad



Fri, 14 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java

Quote:
>Java may run into the same kind of problem with shrink-wrapped
>applications. Compared to one written in C++, it's slow. And on high
>volume platforms there is lots of incentive for the developers to make
>applications fast before someone else does it and steals their market.

This particular concern seems to have been addressed.  There is a JIT
java compiler available, in some form, for Linux and BSD, and Borland
has announced a similar kind of thing that should ship in March.
These are byte-code to native compilers that preserve the security
aspects of Java but give similar performance boosts that we have seen
in smalltalk implementations.

Cheers, Bob

--

RedRock, 135 Evans Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6S 3V9
(416) 760-0565



Fri, 14 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 Advantages of Smalltalk over Java
|Java may run into the same kind of problem with shrink-wrapped
|applications. Compared to one written in C++, it's slow.

Is there any fundamental reason why an implementation of Java is prevented
from dynamically compiling the bytecodes, as is done in ParcPlace's Smalltalk?

--
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Fri, 14 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT  
 
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