Monday, August 30, 2004

What's Wrong With Smalltalk?

Well, I've been spending a lot of time with java developers and have been having a mighty fine time. It's been interesting being back in the saddle so to speak. I am more than ever assured that Smalltalk not only rocks, it rocks hard. So, why isn't it considered to be cool? Well, the Java developers at my company have this crazy notion that's it old technology. They even think the tools are not up to par to java's! Eclipse is a great IDE for java, but it is still pale in comparison to a Smalltalk environment. The reason it is because debugging is still on a dead system so to speak in Eclipse. I can't really change a whole lot while debugging. I can make simple changes, but adding methods and instance variables are big NO-NO's. So, it means I'm shutting down my application, writing some code, compile, rinse, repeat. The compile cycle is what is killing me. It takes awhile to bring up the test server (to test my code). And for some changes, I have to do a pretty lengthy compile. Now, if you set up Eclipse right, compile times are nothing (which I see people get wrong quite a bit). But, it's the start up time of the application server that's really killing me. In Smalltalk, I can keep the application server running and never restart it unless I did something terribly wrong. My productivity is still way high in Smalltalk. The java developers think Ruby is cool because its newer technlogy, but while I love Ruby, the environment is still lacking for it as well. I will be glad when FreeRide is completed (looks promising).

So, why do the java developers think their tools are ahead of ours? Eclipse looks mighty pretty and it has a lot of great features. But, pound for pound, we have the same features and more. We have a live world to play in. Eclipse is nothing more than a painting of the world. We are the real thing! I can change the object inspector in the IDE and no shut down! Any change to Eclipse and I have to shutdown and restart. So, why are java tools considered better? The only thing I can think of is the looks. At work, we use VisualAge and well, VisualAge looks old. I'm trying my best to tell them not to judge a book by its cover and there's a reason a lot of people think it's cool. But, they have this notion that us Smalltalkers are just old technology guys hanging onto our past for dear life. It saddens me that they see me this way. I love new technology and I'm constantly studying new languages. But, so far, the one I am most productive is Smalltalk. Period. End Of Story. Ruby and Lisp are great too, but I can still code faster in ST. I would still pick any dynamic language over java/C# any day of the week.

So, here's the rallying call. How do we make Smalltalk not seem old. I think despite it's age, it's still far ahead of the game in a lot of areas and where we lack, we can quickly close the gap. Let's get rid of this stigma that Smalltalk is old technology. We are the future NOW!

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