[self-interest] Performance figures interesting

Michael Latta lattam at mac.com
Wed May 10 22:42:24 UTC 2006

Many of your points are interesting.  When I talk about native windows I
mean a Smalltalk window is an OS window.  I have not tried Dolphin, which I
guess I need to do.  While VisualWorks needs a facelift for UI, the simple
bug that it leaves parts of a window not repainted will keep it from being
accepted in most shops I know.  It makes it look old, and getting past that
first impression is very difficult.  For connectivity in the enterprise or
even small business space support for XML Web Services (SOAP, WSDL, etc)
seems more and more a necessity.  VisualWorks 7 has some of this, but
reports are that it is pretty buggy, and the API set is modeled after the
Java API which is not all that interesting to a Smalltalker, and for many
applications a streaming API would be much more efficient.

As far as WPF UI goes it can do CSS type styling of the presentation, mixing
of text, controls, and live video/audio and 3D in the same UI with full
transformation of elements relative to their parent, with a pretty good
layout engine.  A good WPF UI looks as much like TV as a computer screen in
terms of having information presentation polish.

I agree that there are things I can do in VW that Eclipse will never do,
although it tries in many cases.  It almost lets you modify a class during
execution.  It almost lets you test your UI by treating the UI as objects.
It does support refactoring (but that is largely needed because of strong
typing).  What it does have is a huge number of people working to eliminate
bugs, and to support it going forward.  What it does do is support the
current standards (WebServices, J2EE, JSP, JSF, etc).

I also agree that the number of features that exist in Smalltalk that
differentiate it from other solutions is very large, and yet to be really
well documented.  But, if we can get more of that documented that may reduce
some of the craggy aloofness.


-----Original Message-----
From: self-interest at yahoogroups.com [mailto:self-interest at yahoogroups.com]
On Behalf Of cstb
Sent: Tuesday, May 09, 2006 11:10 PM
To: self-interest at yahoogroups.com
Cc: self-interest at yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [self-interest] Performance figures interesting

At 08:38 PM 5/9/2006, Michael Latta wrote:
>It is definitely not a good idea to take such a micro benchmark too
>seriously.  This was just what I had available that could be run on this
>many different Smalltalk VMs.
>I would think that the two machines are basically well matched in
>performance, given similar architectures and clock rates for CPU and
>If anything the Mac should be faster given the 1Ghz FSB per CPU.
>What did get my attention is that the Self version we have (10 years old)
>not keeping up with even the more simple implementations available from
>Squeak and VisualWorks.  I expect that the Klein VM will do better, but
>that will only have research level support, so there will be lots of things
>that never get done.
>I am struggling with the issues of better technology vs. industry momentum
>on many levels these days, and this is just one example where the lack of
>resources seems to be limiting the success of the technically better
>solution.  I like the concept of Self better than Smalltalk (directly
>manipulating instances rather than all behavior and structure organized
>classes), and I much prefer Smalltalk to Java or C#.  Unfortunately the
>expectations on all applications are rising and the Smalltalk based
>technologies are not keeping pace. 

Specific areas that are/will/might impact you?
(other than UI?)

> The UI frameworks in Smalltalk can not
>do the things that WPF in C# can do.

Such as?

Also, have you tried Dolphin Smalltalk? (windows only).
The UI is excellent.

>  The level of polish on VisualWorks is
>not competitive with Eclipse for Java.

Depends how one defines polish.
Yes, VW is still playing catch-up in terms of look-and-feel.
But it still eclipses Eclipse in terms of operation.
Which version of VisualWorks?

>  At the same time I can solve
>problems faster in Smalltalk and do things that the more mainstream systems
>can not come close to doing.
>For Smalltalk to survive

"survive" is perhaps not the right concern.
It has so far outlived ALL the competition (in years of service),
and still processes a large percentage of the world's 'critical'

> it needs better connectivity to other technologies


>like Java, C#,


> and web services,


> and there needs to be more invested into
>making it competitive in terms of quality and performance. 

Seems to me the performance is ok.
And the quality is extraordinary.
VW needs a facelift, which is well underway,
but yes, more investment would be nice -- 
a catch-22 lurks here, however.
Squeak has problems here, too.

> While users do
>not generally care about what technology a product is built on, the IT
>department does.

But which is the more sane reaction?

>  In the enterprise space it needs to fit in.

Politically, technically, or how?

>  In the
>end-user space it needs to look credible compared to other applications.

Ideally, sure.  For windows only, Dolphin is highly credible in this regard.
Which is superb -- but -- they only need to keep pace with Windows.
Cross platform UI technology is more difficult -> requires more resources.

>Morphic under Squeak is the most polished of the UI options for Smalltalk,

Morphic is the most *interesting* UI for any development environment,
but Dolphin is the most *polished* of the UI options for Smalltalk.

>but does not use native windows,

  (Dolphin does)

> and Visual Works which uses native windows,

  (VW doesn't -- that's cross platform emulation, switchable to any
   look and feel on the fly.  It is 'behind' the times, because the
   VW team size was reduced to single digit for a number of years,
   and the the GUI languished.  That situation has improved, but it
   will be another year or so before you'll really *see* the result.)

>still has 10 year old refresh bugs that make it look very unprofessional.


>For standalone computers like you are building Jecel it makes more sense
>than for applications trying to exist in a Microsoft/IBM dominated world.

Desktop?  Yup - you may need to use Dolphin in this environment.

Headless server?  GUI is irrelevant, and VW beats most comers.

>Smalltalk is what got me into computers, 

  You lucky dog ;-)

  Some of us went the long way 'round the barn...

>and I have not found anything I
>like better,

I'll drink to that.

> I just hope I can find ways to keep using it professionally.

Simple.  Don't leave home without it.

Ah - you want income, too, I suppose?
That's a bit tougher.  Chin up, fight the good fight.
Support the producers of good tools, so they'll produce more.
Resist attempts to migrate (sic) without a rational business case.
Teach someone to program in Smalltalk.  Start a Union.
Bang the drum at every opportunity. It will get better.



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