New Website!

We have a new website and a new logo for our community. Go Smalltalk!

Smalltalk was designed for Kids!

Yes! Alan Kay was trying to develop an environment to be used in the education of our kids.

Did you Know that Smalltalk was created in 70's at Xerox?

The use of the mouse, the "copy and paste", the bitblt and others technologies was firstly created in Smalltalk. Steve Jobs saw those ideas at Xerox and he developed a new language, Objective-C.

Mailing List in Spanish!

Please, go to and join us!

September 25, 2008

Exciting News for Dolphin Users

Object-arts announces a partnership with Lesser Software with the aim of creating the next generation of Dolphin Smalltalk called Dolphin NG Development. Great news for the clients who are working in this great environment. Here is the full announcement available at the Object-Arts website: 

"We are pleased to announce that over the last few months we have entered into a partnership with Lesser Software with the aim of creating the Next Generation of Dolphin Smalltalk. This new version of Dolphin will be targetted towards professional software developers and will leverage the experience that Lesser Software have built up over a number of years in high performance Smalltalk virtual machines and development tools.
Lesser Software's current product set includes LSW Vision Smalltalk, whose virtual machine retains full bytecode compatibility with the original Digitalk Visual Smalltalk Enterprise (VSE) platform. Existing VSE developers can migrate their codebase to Vision Smalltalk, usually within minutes, gaining the ability to run their applications on a fast, modern and fully supported virtual machine. 
Similarly, as a result of the new agreement, Dolphin users will have access to the full Dolphin development environment and class library (including MVP) running on top of the Vision Smalltalk substrate. The new system will be completely source code (rather than bytecode) compatible with existing Dolphin Smalltalk X6 projects, so adopters of the new platform will instantly gain a number of key benefits:
  • Speed. The Vision VM is Just-In-Time (JIT) compiled and is FAST. The current Dolphin VM is based on a very fast interpreter. In some circumstances this has advantages over JIT compilation but if you want SPEED then JIT is the way to go. Early estimates indicate that the new Dolphin will be between 2x and 5x faster than Dolphin Professional X6.
  • Multi-threading. Currently, the Dolphin VM is single threaded (although with an ability to run external calls on separate threads). The Vision Smalltalk VM is true multi-threaded which will allow Dolphin applications to take full advantage of the modern generation of multi-processor and multi-core machines.
  • Unicode Support. Internally, the new VM is entirely based on Unicode. For many of our international customers the ability to use Unicode in their applications will be a huge benefit.
  • Smalltalk Link Libraries (SLLs). In the same way that Digitalk Smalltalk introduced the concept of SLLs, the Vision Smalltalk platform also allows Smalltalk code to be distributed as collections of small, pre-compiled units that in many ways are simailar to Windows DLLs. Dolphin Smalltalk users will be able to deploy their applications either as SLLs or fully bound into executable files as they are today.
  • 64 bit OS Support. Whilst the current Vision Smalltalk VM is 32 bit, development is underway on a full 64 bit version. Once this is ready, new Dolphin users will be able to benefit from this immediately with no additional effort.
  • Maintenance and Support. The Vision Smalltalk platform is fully supported and is being actively developed by Lesser Software. With this new way forward both existing and new Dolphin developers can be sure of a supported route into the future.
At present, no pricing structure has been set for the new platform. However, following its release we still intend to continue to keep the current Dolphin products (DPRO and DCE) in existence. Hence, the Next Generation Dolphin environment will likely be positioned at a price point above that of the existing Dolphin Professional product.
If you are excited as we are about the potential behind this announcement you'll probably want to learn more about when development will commence on the Next Generation product. If so please follow this link to Dolphin NG Development.
Andy & Blair
September 2008"

September 16, 2008

Claus Gittinger in Buenos Aires

Claus Gittinger, creator of Smalltalk/X
The Smalltalks 2008 committee are pleased to announce that next Friday September 19th at 7 pm in "Ciudad Universitaria" (University of Buenos Aires campus) Claus Gittinger is going to present a technical exposition about Smalltalk/X and a "model base testing" product called expecco.
Also, the last Saturday September 13th, Claus Gittinger had been in a meeting of the group Smalltalking in Buenos Aires. Here you can read a blog post of Angel Lopez about the meeting where he talked about Smalltalk/X.


The Software Architecture Group from the HPI in Potsdam announced a Subversion integration project called SqueakSVN for Squeak.

September 10, 2008

Andres Valloud: Maths, virtual machines & books

Andres Valloud was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has been working as Lead technical engineer at Cincom Systems. In this interview he answered some questions about the present in his job at Cincom and some questions about his recently published books.

CS: Andrés, How did you know Smalltalk and what was your first impression?
AV: I first learned about Smalltalk while studying mathematics in college. A math instructor, Leandro Caniglia, had found that I was also programming mathematics related stuff in things like x86 assembler, and he began insisting that I should give Smalltalk a try instead. At first I basically thought "Smalltalk what's that?", and dismissed the suggestion. But eventually he convinced me to go to his place on a Saturday afternoon. We had a 3 hour session. Within an hour I knew all my work had become obsolete. The simplicity of the language was astonishing. All the inconveniences typical of other programming languages were gone and nowhere to be seen. In fact we spent more time thinking about trees and math problems rather than about Smalltalk itself. To me this was unquestionable proof that the language was designed to help people solve problems, as opposed to forcing people to solve programming language problems on top of their original issues.

CS: You have been working in the Smalltalk Industry for a long time and now you are working with virtual machines. How did you end up working on the lowest level of a Smalltalk environment?
AV: I think it has to do with the orientation with which I have gone through challenges in the past, and perhaps a sprinkle of personality traits. From the beginning I didn't feel it was acceptable to take everything at face value, and rather concentrated on figuring out how things fit together as a whole on my own. This was applied to things like x86 assembler, then to Smalltalk, and perhaps the inevitable consequence is that now the process requires knowledge of the VM in order to continue.

CS: What are the constraints when you are working at that VM level? And, what are the usual requirements?
AV: Right now I am working on a VM that runs on 15 or so different platforms. The requirements are that the same source code should compile and run correctly on all of them, and that this implementation must provide the same visible behavior to the image. This turns out to become an unintended constraint, because it is here where you begin to see that standards look great on paper, and yet practice has all sorts of oddball and exceptional cases that must be addressed.

CS: If you have code that run in so many platforms with their particular issues, how is a VM tested before been released?
AV: At Cincom we have a test suite with which we test each interim build we make, on every platform. Also, there are numerous tests that verify that image functionality works as expected. Finally there is also the Cincom Smalltalk developer program, which gives customers access to weekly builds so they can be evaluated in advance.

CS: The VM of VisualWorks has been one of the fastest in the market, what are the secrets behind this VM?
AV: The techniques used are well known. For example, the VisualWorks VM uses a JIT approach to translate Smalltalk methods into native code. These translated methods do not have to abide by the usual C stack calling conventions, and so a lot of stack traffic is eliminated. Some primitives are also translated, and so they do not need the overhead of a C stack frame either. In addition to this, the compiled methods have polymorphic inline caches which for the most part avoid costly method lookups.

CS: If we talk about performance, what are your recommendations and what kind of code should we avoid?
AV: From the point of view of a Smalltalk image, arguably the number one performance offender is ifTrue:ifFalse:. It may not be evident at first sight, and perhaps it may even seem counterintuitive. However, typically what one does with ifTrue:ifFalse: is to do things like this:

anObject hasSomeProperty
ifTrue: [anObject doSomething]
ifFalse: [anObject doSomethingElse]
But how could be ifTrue:ifFalse: be a problem? Most, if not all, Smalltalks heavily optimize ifTrue:ifFalse:, so this does not look like it can be made faster. However, there is a way. The issue here is that the program is making a run time distinction that perhaps could be made a design time. In other words, if we made two classes, one for objects that have some property, and another for objects that do not have some property, then we would be able to rewrite the code above like this:

^self doSomething
^self doSomethingElse
Once we have these methods, we can simply replace our original ifTrue:ifFalse: with a single line of code
anObject doWhatIsAppropriate
So we have made the ifTrue:ifFalse: disappear. Where did it go? Into a cached message lookup, which in VisualWorks will resolve to a few assembler instructions to check for the class of the receiver in a polymorphic inline cache. In other words, the code will run faster, and in addition it will better express the knowledge available to developers while modeling the problem at hand.
Fast code does not have to be unreadable.

CS: If someone wants to start learning about Smalltalk's virtual machines, which books and resources would you recommend to start looking at?
AV: Personally I have found several loose resources to be useful. For example, there are presentations by people like Eliot Miranda which are available on the web. Furthermore, there are published papers that describe things like polymorphic inline caches and so on, particularly the Self papers such as the one here:

CS: You wrote a book about hashing. Could you explain us what is the importance of the hashing in ourdaily work over a Smalltalk environment?
AV: Hashing is a technique to handle large amounts of data which offers O(1) access time regardless of the size of the data set. In today's world of increasingly large amounts of data that applications must handle, hashing becomes very attractive because of its O(1) behavior characteristics. Consider for example the need to detect duplicate objects. One could keep a sorted list of the unique ones seen so far, and then use binary search to determine whether any object should be added to the list or classified as a duplicate. While this could be reasonably fast for moderately sized data sets, hashing can do this in constant time for each object tested, and keep doing so regardless of the number of objects seen so far. Note that sorting is not necessary either. Compared to the sorted collection approach, hashing scales significantly better and will also execute the task in considerably less time

CS: You have written a mentoring book about Smalltalk, could you tell us a little about the motivation behind this book and who should read it?
AV: Some of us are lucky to be mentored, but most of us will not have that opportunity because there are not many mentors in the first place. My main motivation was to write down things that I have learned from my mentors, to remove the luck factor in having access to this kind of material. I have found this knowledge invaluable, so I hope it proves useful to others too.

If I said ... Would you answer

I have very few dislikes, and I enjoy a variety of different cuisines from all around the world.
Computer brand?
Operative system?
*nix, Mac OS/X.
Mobile Phone?
As simple as possible.
Portland, Oregon, Yosemite National Park / Mammoth Lakes, no country of preference so far.
Concrete Mathematics, by Graham, Knuth and Patashnik
Akira Kurosawa's Dreams
TV Series?
I don't watch TV anymore :).
Open Source?
I have no strong preference one way or the other. To me, the interesting distinction is whether software is either useful or not, where its usefulness also depends on the licenses attached to it.

September 9, 2008

Baby IDE, based on new development paradigm

Trygve Reenskaug wrote to the Squeak dev mailing list to announce the release of BabyIDE, an IDE which which runs on Squeak Smalltalk, and is based on his exploration of a new development paradigm, called DCI. The aim of the DCI (Data-Context-Interaction) paradigm is to minimise any gaps between the programmer's mental model of the program and the program that is actually stored and executed in the computer, by presenting system operations as networks of communicating objects.
Here is a detailed overview:

iSqueak, a squeak virtual machine port for the iPhone/Touch

Squeak iPhone/Touch port is now available at Please, visit the project site and the announcement for more information.