[self-interest] Why did Sun stop development of Self ?

Albertina Lourenci lourenci at lsi.usp.br
Fri Dec 29 14:07:58 UTC 2000

thilo.s at web.de wrote:

> Jecel Assumpcao Jr wrote:

> >
> > Thilo,
> >
> > the short answer is: to focus on Java.
> >
> Jecel,
> I would have thought that Sun was "big" enough to develop both languages
> (+infrastructures)

Unfortunately it is not and so the possibility appears for other areas to be


> in parallel to possibly get shares in both language-markets ( that means
> C++ and Smalltalk ). IMHO there are Smalltalkers that could be convinced
> to migrate to the possibly (? - I have no real experience in both
> languages) more powerful Self-language - especially if given the right
> code transformation tools to save their former work - instead of -
> giving up the mighty and convenient concepts they got used to by
> switching to Java.

Examining other prototype-based languages like Agora (Vrje University)
or Kevo, they are a far cry from the simplicity of Self. They do not have
the musical Kansas that I hope could be really transformed into
a true virtual reality tool!!!
The new API - delegation into Java has too many lines of code. I do
know it is hard to compare languages based on this criteria and at this
right moment my brain (which works by modules) is connected to
reflection and media space so I cannot force an analysis here!
What I am sure being a green architect is that no artist will want
to learn Java. It would be wonderful if there would have tutorials
in Self like those written by the Danes and the Swedish and Norwegians.
Scandinavians are really able of right-sided brain approach. I read
all they write so easily. Of course papers from the Self language
are also attractive to me but they are not intertwined the way they\
managed to do with Simula and Beta!!!!
Until today I cannot understand how the debugger in Self works!!!
How easy it was for me to understand the OO metaprogramming
system in Beta based on grammar based architecuture.
How nice their explanation of different kinds of environments:
hand-crafted: language-specific, supporting one single language
like Smalltalk, Interlisp and Turbo-Pascal
generated: the Mjolner Beta system
and grammar-interpreting:the grammars can be developed interactively
with immediate feedback on modifications.Mjolner Orm system connected
to Simula.
Reading the OO environments: the Mjolner approach from Knudsen
et al (Prentice Hall 1994), one can feel how we can shape info
systems. And yet it is far from being ideal because it is based
on papers. There should be a didactic book for one to feel
the differences and similarities between the languages.
But having studied this book carefully one feels computer science
is not magic...The debugger looks like magic to me!!!

Users for Self are certainly people from applied areas like
architecture, art and so on. The exponents in design have
a scornful attitude towards computer science. So to fill the gap
would require a powerful application where once can really
sense that computers are really modelling the way the artist
sees the world!
This is the promise of my ecodesign model implemented in Self!

> > Note that Sun also killed TCL and Spring OS at that time (the latter to
> > focus on Solaris).
> >
> > I can only offer you an outsider's view, but it is interesting to
> > compare what Java and Self were in 1995. Java was small and there were
> > many missing pieces, but a killer application has just appeared that
> > could take advantage of its modular nature: platform independent
> > applications for the web. Self was large and monolithic, but flexible
> > and feature packed. It probably seemed easier to grow Java as needed
> > than to slim down Self.
> >
> > -- Jecel
> I see. Is it eventually too late (or even too early - anyway to
> expensive at this moment) to pay for more R&D in Self even (or
> especially) for the other big players ? Anyway - possibly these kind of
> tasks are not the domain of the big players (?).
> What about the following hypothetic "big-player statements":
> - "It would be so much more to spend for R&D to getting Self in the
> market that we just can't (want) afford it".
> (I'm a little sceptical about this statement because a lot if not most
> of R&D for programming-languages is probably done in universities anyway
> isn't it ?).
> - "We will loose so much shares by getting Self in the market".

Here in the state of Sao Paulo, one could get more than a million dollars
to pursue such a development. FAPESP (Foundation of Protection toResearch
of Sao Paulo State) have programs for the university, the joint cooperation
between university and entreprises and only for entreprises.
The bad thing with Self is that there are only entrepreneurs involved!!!
Even if one has a PHD degree it does not tune with the needs of the
financing agencies for leadership.
Being an architect of course I cannot start an emergent center alone
on this. If this happens one can channel lots of money.

So how to build a bridge?
My main goal at the moment is to generate a really free plan in architecture

and urban design. While I have not reached this goal I cannot go
to the scientific director of FAPESP and explain to him what is happening!
It would be nice to go there with this project (if successful) and show
him see how easy it is to mimic the very complex architectonic thinking
through intelligent programs in Self!!!!

Then the Selfers think  this will lead nowhere , because what is necessary
is a version of Self for PC, a processor for Self and Java, all these
I have been reading about in the list. I know this is important.
But since I could study architecture, ecology, symmetry groups of the plane
and OO programming in parallell why shouldn't the  computer scientists
learn to do the same?
When I started in 1988 nobody have heard of OO in the universities.
I discover after eight months of daily reading papers in computer science!
I stopped my graduate studies for five years to do this!!!I did  not care
if I would starve or not!!!For me things are "to be or not to be".
See the outcome now: the "diamond-language" is stuck!!!
If there would be hope of the appearance of at least another better one!
So let's stick to it and see what can be done to improve it!
We can support post-doctorate researchers in Laboratory of integrated
systems to do this right now!!! To work in collaboration with my research!

Happy New Millennium, that God may bless us all and shape a wiser
Mother Earth!!

> Regards,
> Thilo.

| Albertina Lourenci                                       |
| PhD  in Architecture and Urbanism                        |
| post-doctorate researcher                                |
| Laboratory of Integrated Systems University of Sao Paulo |
| Avenida Professor Luciano Gualberto, 158 Travessa 3      |
| CEP: 05508-900                                           |
| Sao Paulo Sao Paulo State Brazil                         |
| Voice: +55 011 818 5254                                  |
| Fax: +55 11 211 4574                                     |

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