Self vs. Squeak

Michael Latta lattam at
Wed Jun 23 23:59:53 UTC 2004

I am still getting to know both environments after a long absence from 
Smalltalk doing Java projects.

I am trying to compare the two environments from several angles to 
decide which is a better jumping off point.

Here is what I have observed so far:

1) I like the Self language better, if it only had full blocks.  But, 
both are far better than Java or C++!!!
2) Squeak has a much more active community that can provide 
3) Squeak is far larger in terms of libraries.
4) Squeak runs on Windows ( an advantage for comercial projects ).

What I could use comments about from anyone that has used both 

1) How stable are the two environments?  While I had several stability 
issues with Self at the beginning, they seem to be gone now.
2) How hard is each VM to modify?  Neither seems to have much if any 
comments!  (bad programmers, bad programmers :-)
3) The graphics model in Squeak seems to be a reasonable graphics model 
(transforms, etc), but being all in Smalltalk how does it perform?
4) What is the relative performance of the two VMs for headless 
programming tasks, and for UI tasks?

I started a company that built one of the first commercial Smalltalk 
applications (still an active product) in 1986, so I know it can be 
done.  The issue today is higher expectations on the part of the users, 
and far faster hardware.  While the hardware should make using 
Smalltalk / Self easier, the graphics requirements seem to do just the 
opposite.  A large Java project I am working on is far slower than our 
Smalltalk app was in 1986 on a Mac II !!!

There apparently is a Java to native code compiler for GCC that 
produces much better performance than the current VMs, has this 
approach been attempted for Self or Smalltalk along the lines of 
Objective-C?  Has anyone tried a Self/Smalltalk to Objective-C 
translator?  Or, are blocks and GC really the performance issues in the 


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