Help - Background - Remarks - Learning Squeak

Previous - Remarks - Next

If you want to learn about Squeak, and especially if you want to learn to program in it (to a more than minimal extent) it is very wise to learn also another version of Smalltalk. This gives one several views of the same subject, and since the Smalltalk involved will be mostly the same, it will not be like learning two languages, but much like learning a language by studying two of its dialects. And in the case of a programming language this seems helpful rather than complicating.

If you like Squeak - the environment, the language, the approach to programming - then invest some time not only in Squeak but also in other Smalltalk dialects.

Three possibilities are VisualWorks, Dolphin and VisualAge. Of the first two, at least, there is an unsupported non-commercial version available next to a supported commercial one, where "support" refers to help one can get or not from its owners and developers.

It also should be mentioned that - for some set of probably quite diverse reasons - Smalltalk is not really a popular language, and that it seems not easy to find a paying job programming Smalltalk. On the other hand, those that do program in it tend to be very enthusiastic about it, because programming in it is much more fun than in other programming languages. (I agree: If you want a fine dose of misanthropy, write a program in Java or C that should be finished and work well preferably today.)

The main difference between Squeak and other Smalltalks is Morphic: The extension of Smalltalk developed in Squeak. This is much in development and - so far - only used in Squeak.

This also gives useful links to Smalltalk and Squeak matters, including links to VisualWorks, which is the leading commercial Smalltalk, for which you can get a non-commercial edition for free. This runs on Windows, and looks more like Windows than does Squeak. It is a big download, but quite instructive and helpful. Here are links to VisualWorks and its html-tutorial on it

- VisualWorks Home

As soon as you got Squeak working and have looked at its browsers do get and read the following:

- A Quick Tour of Whisker

Whisker is a better browser - which you need all the time in Smalltalk to keep track of the system and its facilities - than is in either the present VisualWorks or Squeak, and immediately makes things easier and clearer. The above URL gives a link to the zipped version of a .cs file. This installed on my Squeak 3.5 without problem. (And if you don't like it you can throw it out. I like it a lot: It immediately clarifies things, and does so in an elegant way.)

The generally best way to get useful documentation about  Squeak and Smalltalk is become a member of a relevant maillist. For Squeak, THE maillist is the developers' list, which is quite lively and interesting, and on which there is a lot of daily traffic. As far as I know it also is the Smalltalk list that is most active (but I may be mistaken).

The reason this works quite well - with some patience - is that there are quite a few people on those maillists with similar or related interests, who will throw up references or links that may be of interest to you.

The main problems with Smalltalk and Squeak I have noticed from the beginning of getting to know them are the lack of good documentation and the animistic style of writing most Smalltalk documentation.

Previous - Remarks - Next