[Pharo-project] Popularity of Smalltalk in Software Industry

Stefan Marr pharo at stefan-marr.de
Fri May 6 23:45:18 CEST 2011

On 06 May 2011, at 19:08, Igor Stasenko wrote:

> I think the main reason why RoarVM does not exists for Pharo is
> because there was no discussion and planning beforehead, how we could
> cooperate.
> Where the discussion, how we could introduce new execution models, and
> gradually (means step by step) migrate to new VM?

Igor, I remember some discussion from the Smalltalk school, two important points:

 1. it is not a new execution model, but you do not have your old scheduling guarantees anymore.
 2. "all it takes" is to make the important libraries thread-safe

There is nothing fundamental in the RoarVM that is changing the language semantics of Smalltalk.

It is just that for: `[do something] fork` you will have to assume that it is executed in parallel to other code.

> Take into account there there is virtually no knowledge outside of
> your team, what has to be changed in order to make Pharo run on
> RoarVM.
> So what did you expected? That people drop everything which already
> works well for them and hastily migrate to new platform?
No, of course not. I never expected anyone to jump onto a research platform, and it is also not really about
adopting our C++ code, but about trying to integrate the ideas into the standard VM with Cog.

Talking with Eliot basically resulted in the insight that there is no major problem that would prevent the adoption of parallel execution in the CogVM. They only thing we became aware of that might be interesting are the PICs. And there he had a nice paper reference with a perfectly good solution... 

> How about CogVM? Should we stop developing it? Or we should start
> supporting both? And can we do that without too much pain? Give us the
> idea.
It is all about adopting the ideas, and I could collaboration on that, but I can't do that work.
The only problem I see is that there does not seem to be a business case for a CogVM with parallel Smalltalk Process execution.

> But then i wouldn't come
> to pharo list to say
> that i don't give a shit about pharo.
Igor, the fact that the community did not show active interest in the RoarVM is much older than my bold statement.
And, please understand my statement in the context of me not giving a damn about any particular language.
Seriously, I can stand those 'ah but my language is so much nicer' discussions. And this here is just a variation of it.
Languages are tools, and they are useful as long as they fit the problem.

> I appreciate the engineering effort what you have did. But its a top
> of the iceberg. Migrating existing system to another platform is very
> complex task,

Actually, for the RoarVM it is not. It is a lot of work, but it is not complex. It is tedious, but it can be done in small well defined steps. Perfect small projects for interested students. I already convinced two guys to apply for the Google Summer of Code. But well, that never happened...

So, I do what I can, and actually more.
But the community only responds to me when I say that I hate Smalltalk.
Strange, isn't it?

Best regards

Stefan Marr
Software Languages Lab
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2 / B-1050 Brussels / Belgium
Phone: +32 2 629 2974
Fax:   +32 2 629 3525

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