[Pharo-project] New IDE alternative (was Misc. newbie questions)

Gerry Weaver gerryw at compvia.com
Sun Jan 15 13:55:04 CET 2012

Hi Andreas,

>I am not comfortable with the idea to write parts of an application in different languages.
>Typically the disadvantages overweigh the advantages to do so as you would have different languages and systems to master >and update.
>Interoperability with other systems and languages should be easy and Squeak/Pharo are still lacking in this area. This is well >known and hopefully there will be some improvements in the future.

I guess I would have to disagree with you here. Most of the editors and IDEs of other languages are not maintained by the language proper. There are many editors and IDEs that support many languages in addition to the one they are written in. I think the benefits of using a full featured GUI toolkit to create an IDE would be significant.

>Planning to give up on parts like GUI is a bad idea in my opinion. Smalltalk would be even more niche than it is now. I want >to be able to build complete applications without the need to build parts in another language.

In theory I would agree with you. However, I wasn't able to come up with an application scenario where the Pharo GUI would work. Either the widget set and OS integration are too limited or performance is a problem. For example, the last several applications I have done needed to display PDF files. I have done a little testing with Pharo and I'm sorry to say the results were not very encouraging.  The problem I think is one of limited resources. I think that maybe trimming some things would render more progress on the core. Perhaps a good and complete binding to one of the current GUI toolkits would be easier to maintain. You would also get the instant advantage of everything the toolkit had to offer (including performance). A more robust FFI would inevitably be realized as a result. 

>Especially having the IDE in Smalltalk itself and thus being able to inspect and debug and modify everything is a big advantage >over any IDE in a different language.

I don't understand why the IDE needs to be in the image/language to do that.
>All Smalltalk implementations have shortcomings in some areas. There are a multitude of reasons for it, be it commercially 
>(greater estimated expenses than earnings from it) or just lack of capacity. Smalltalk users are rare these days and the >community is split because of different implementations and interests. For me, Pharo is on a good way to take the Smalltalk >language into a better ecosystem.  But for the moment Dolphin Smalltalk is my preferred system because it's relatively cheap >and has only few known bugs. In my eyes it deserves a bigger community and better commercial success. But I guess that's >what every Smalltalker thinks about his preferred Smalltalk system...

Dolphin seems to be one of the better implementations, but the problem with Dolphin is Windows. All of the projects on my radar right now are moving applications away from Windows to Mac/Linux (mostly Mac).

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