When I started my studies back in 1997 Smalltalk everyone new that Smalltalk would be the next big thing in Corporate IT. So we’ve been taught using this environment. I’ve got to admit, that it challenged many of my preconceptions about programming. I had just done the transition from Turbo Pascal to Java and the idea, that there are no files with the source code of my program disturbed me. Nonetheless I liked the interactive environment, which felt a bit like the Oberon System.
Things turned out differently, but this week I had some time to investigate technologies for rapid prototyping. And I decided to have a look at Seaside. It is a WebApp Framework for Smalltalk. It took me one day to get back into SmallTalk and to build a small two screen app. That’s what I liked:
- Using Builders instead of templates allowing for easy reuse of HTML fragments.
- Having a composite component model, which supports embedding components and calling components.
- Excellent debugging support via the Smalltalk debugger.
- Special development mode, that allows access to variables and code via the WebBrowser.
- No fiddling with Requests and URLs.
- An they´ve got screencasts!
The Smalltalk syntax is amazingly simple, but elegant. I used Squeak, which is a free implementation that comes with a lot of goodies. The UI looks a bit messy, but there’s a vibrant community. Actually Squeak seems to be a good environment to learn programming. Stéphane Ducasse, who is doing a lot of interesting Smalltalk stuff, wrote a very nice book on this topic.