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Smalltalk and Large Projects

January 28, 2012 11:42:02.062

Dave Buck and I were discussing podcast topics, and we came across this InfoQ interview with Ralph Johnson and Joe Armstrong. This is what we decided to talk about:

Because in Smalltalk you have everything in the image. You can't keep track of the versions between the old and the new one - it's a pain in the neck but also now we are going to this distributed computing or parallel programming. People say "We want to have multiple threads inside Smalltalk." No, you don't want to do that! Because you are just getting back to all those problems. What you want to do is have multiple images in sending messages back and forth if you want fault tolerance.
It started years ago more but because we had this way of doing things, we just put everything in one image and there is also the issue of complexity. You build a system, so it gets to the limit of what a few people can do and there Smalltalk doesn't work too well. If it actually took 20 people to build your system, Smalltalk is not very good. If you could build it with 4-5 people, fine. They all sit in the room and Smalltalk is just fabulous and you could build with 4-5 people something that would take 50 people in Java, but what if it would take 200 people in Java?

We'll get into that when we record, but two points:

  • The system I work on now has nearly 5500 classes in it, and it's managed by around 20 developers
  • Any project that has 200 developers (regardless of language) will grow a process that makes forward motion impossible. I've seen that happen, more than once

With that said, wait for episode 63 to come out - this is what we'll be talking about.

posted by James Robertson

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