[Pharo-project] Popularity of Smalltalk in Software Industry

Casimiro de Almeida Barreto casimiro.barreto at gmail.com
Thu May 5 21:25:52 CEST 2011

Good evening Roy.

One thing that always amazes me a lot is that so many experienced
solution providers (ie. people who develop solutions either to be sold
as OTSCS or embedded as a more or less autonomous part of a bigger
system) mind about if something is "mainstream" or something else.

For several reasons extensively discussed in this forum, smalltalk
didn't "hit the market" like java did. It has nothing to do regarding to
smalltalk qualities or lack of them. It has to do with good marketing
vs. bad marketing, shorter learning curve for things like java and the
fact that java was more apt to be used in personal computers of the
1990ies. Besides that, large part of smalltalk community at that time
had the "king inside their bellies" and that just made the technology
less attractive to outsiders (look: 1990ies language wars).

Smalltalk is a really nice technology supporting fast development of
complex (and performative) solutions and demanding much smaller teams to
do so. It has evident advantages in the fields of code testing,
profiling, maintenance and reuse. Most common families of smalltalk like
pharo/squeak/Cincom VW/  are cross platform (Windows, Linux, OS X, iOS).
Important families of smalltalk are open source (pharo, squeak, gnu
smalltalk and dedicated derivatives like OpenCobalt).

Smalltak is far from dead. If you investigate you'll see that pharo (for
instance) is supported by important universities (listed among 100 best
universities in world). In recent years we have witnessed amazing things
in smalltalk world. For reasons that can be summarized as immature
product adoption in the 1990ies and ugly commercial practices by
suppliers, smalltalk is not as popular as java or python. IMHO time will
correct this situation.

Now, if you want to deploy solutions you have no reason to fear
smalltalk except by the fact that it's highly addictive: you start
producing and do it fast and clean and just don't want to stop... but,
like any d-dealer would say: "don't trust me, you just have to try it...
just once... and look: first time is for free !!!" Ok, enough kidding:
if you want to deploy solutions you'll see that for the same investment
(time & material resources) you do more with smalltalk. You'll loose
much less time debugging things, documenting things, figuring out what
other people did before... you'll spend much less money in debuggers,
profilers, testers, etc... You'll see that reusing and integrating
things is just pleasant. And you'll be amazed by performance.

That are my 2¢


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