September 2007


Sep 11, 2007: 19. Smalltalk VisualWork's 9-11?


I wrote in BitsAndPieces about Smalltalk, indicating why I think it is interesting but has not given me the leverage it promises its users.

Today - not such a propitious day to announce such news - the so-called Cincom Smalltalk Product Evangelist of Smalltalk's flagship VisualWorks  announced on the VW-list that Pollock has been terminated, after six years.

What is Pollock, apart from a drippy dead painter? A new graphical user-interface for VisualWorks, that has been six years in development.

I wrote in the earlier Smalltalk piece:

Also, after 5 years of efforts around Squeak and Smalltalk, my judgement on both is that they seem to be less capable, less finished, less well  documented than what most of the competition - such as Java, C#, Delphi, FreeBasic, Visual Prolog, or RosAsm - offer, in terms of programming environment, interface and documentation.

Squeak just is not in the class of those mentioned, in these terms, and while VisualWorks is decent - compared with Visual Prolog or FreeBasic, that is, and perhaps Java, but not compared with C#, Delphi or RosAsm, that are better - VisualWorks too has considerable difficulties with its interface (as witnessed by the protracted birth-pangs of Pollock, its graphical extension, that aims at a better graphical interface, and the many things one cannot do decently graphically speaking in VW).

The probable reasons Pollock has been terminated as of today by Cincom are sketched in the Smalltalk piece, and are related to the fact that each and every Smalltalk is constricted by its image, that makes using the OS on which the Smalltalk runs difficult or impossible to use.

The paying and non-paying customers of VW are not happy. Here is one (not me):

Can one of the tool guys (preferably the one who did'nt manage to make the Widgetry GUI tool) standup and explain me how to make new cool software with decades old widgets ? Personnaly I really don't give a heck about 10 extra browser menus, refactoring name spaces etc, what I need is to get away with this horrible anoying details of table headers, missing modern date selectors etc. etc.

VW now looks like east european products did before the wall thumbled down and they all catched up. 15 years ago somebody explained me that DOS and VGA was as good or better then windows. Is this all of the same thing ?

Anyway... the Cincom Smalltalk Product Evangelist will have a lot to evangelize about, though it seems he wants to do this privately, outside of the VW forum.

Productevangelically speaking, I can understand that, for it is like explaining why Jesus sunk instead of, as announced, walking the waters.

But it would be nice, intellectually speaking, to know the real reasons for this decision. My own guess is as stated: It's the image, stupid.

Meanwhile, this is not good news about Smalltalk.

And - it's such an awful term and concept - productevangelically speaking, today was not the day to announce it, it seems to me, but probably I have no talent for Product Evangelism, and certainly no education in it.

Maarten Maartensz


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