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Why No Iron Smalltalk?

March 22, 2010 21:36:17.043

This question about an "Iron Smalltalk" (no momentum in a few years) made me consider the oft stated (and never really fulfilled) desire for "Smalltalk on the JVM", or "Smalltalk on .NET" - I came up with the following:

The reason these "Smalltalk for .NET" and "Smalltalk for the JVM" projects never seem to come off is simple - Smalltalk isn't just flat text in an editor. Smalltalk is the entire interactive environment. It would be fairly simple to get a syntax parser, but it wouldn't be Smalltalk. It would be Ruby or Python with Smalltalk syntax. Somewhat useful perhaps, but not really Smalltalk.

If you really built Smalltalk in one of these other systems, you would have to invest a pretty large effort - and then end up with a system that ran slower than any of the currently extant commercial Smalltalk systems. Given that, it's kind of hard to see the point.

posted by James Robertson


Re: Why No Iron Smalltalk?

[redii] March 23, 2010 2:12:42.847

I am really leery of MS involvement in anything open source. I don't trust them a bit. They don't even try to hide their Embrace, Extend & Extinguish policies. Look back on their successes and attempts at squashing languages and standards. I think their deal with Novell w/linux and these IronR* projects are just attempts to get someone to ultimately cross-pollinate and taint the code. MS can then pull a SCO move when the time is right.

The concept sounds cool. I just really don't trust them based on repeated history. Just my 2cents.

Re: Why No Iron Smalltalk?

[AA] March 23, 2010 3:21:28.842

Good point James!

Re: Why No Iron Smalltalk?

[Troy Brumley] March 23, 2010 11:01:13.696

The DLR keeps getting better and better. The biggest reason to attempt this that Smalltalkers should embrace is to get past corporate "we're an MSFT shop" standards.

Remember Dolphin's "Smalltalk is a drug" idea. Getting into the shop is a way to get into the heads of some developers, and once they're hooked, they could look at some other implementations.

Squeak will turn off corp developers (sorry Squeakers, it's true) and VW is a different enough environment that people used to Eclipse/NetBeans/Visual Studio won't take the time to learn.


Re: Why No Iron Smalltalk?

[cdegroot] March 23, 2010 13:31:51.415

I would love to see a first-class Smalltalk on the JVM, if only to be able to tap into the rich ecosystem of tools, languages, libraries, frameworks and application servers. Smalltalk could be a very cool integration language for all that stuff, IMO...

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