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Issue 025: Smalltalk

Issue 025: Smalltalk

Welcome to the twenty-fifth issue of De Programmatica Ipsum, starting our third year with a rediscovery of Smalltalk. In this edition, Graham explains that Smalltalk was not a pink plane improvement; Adrian dipped his toes in Smalltalk and wrote about his experience; and in the Library section, Graham describes the greatest contributions of Kent Beck to software engineering.

What Smalltalk Was Not

As computing projects go, particularly foundational computing projects, the history of Smalltalk is well-documented, so a potted version will suffice here. Xerox hired someone in Palo Alto to hire a lot of other people, and invent things that would lead to interesting new lines of business for the company. Along the way, this group invented personal computing, the mouse, the graphical user interface, Ethernet networking, the laser printer, object-oriented programming, video conferencing, and provided the creativeness behind trillions of dollars of new products and markets.

I must start this article of mine about Smalltalk with a disclaimer: it took me weeks to work out what to talk about for the Smalltalk issue of De Programmatica Ipsum. I just do not know anything about it. I had to learn an unknown programming language with a clear deadline. And to do that, I decided to rewrite one of my hobby projects with it. This article will outline the steps I followed as an absolute beginner, the sources of information that helped, and how I ended up with my first working application written in Smalltalk.

Kent Beck

Kent Beck might deny that Kent Beck needs an entry in the programmers' library. "All I did was rediscover what other people had done before," he might say, or "all I did was to interpret what Ward Cunningham was doing." But that discovery, that reinterpretation, is the most important part of the process. One person doing things differently is an oddball. Two are the beginning of a revolution.

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