[self-interest] Questions about Self

Chris Double chris.double at double.co.nz
Wed Jun 22 00:31:27 UTC 2016

On Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 4:32 AM, David Ungar ungar at mac.com
[self-interest] <self-interest at yahoogroups.com> wrote:
> I am pleased and amazed at the attention you all lavish on Self. The recent activity has moved me to wonder:
> What is it about Self that appeals? What is it that you don’t like?

I like the environment where I'm basically living inside the software
I'm building, modifying it as I go. Being able to drag/drop an empty
object, and start building it up from scratch while viewing attributes
of it live, changing as things in the world change. The way debuggers
pop up when errors happen and I can drill down and edit methods and
fix bugs while the issue is happening. The language itself appeals to
me for its simplicity and ease of understanding. The environment is
nicely extensible with the outliner approach and morphic in general.

Things I don't like is how much of the VM is in C++. Having the JIT
and assembler, etc in Self would make it easier to hack on the
internals. I understand the intent of Klein was to achieve some of
this. The transporter approach of exporting changes is a bit fragile -
the overhead of managing what goes in what module, will filing in
clobber my running application, and issues like that make me dread
saving things sometimes. The VM (on Intel) being 32 bit and not
multi-core capable is a limitation for me too. Using native code
libraries is a bit painful but some of the work in the 'native' branch
that Russell has been doing looks very promising.

> One reason this topic interests me is that I am watching the immense popularity of Swift, a somewhat different style of PL, and I am even enjoying Swift myself.

I'm a fan of Swift type languages as well. I like being able to use
the type system to prevent classes of programmer errors early. Some
blend of the Self dynamic environment with a modern type system would
be wonderful. I wonder what a "Self with types" could look like.


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