#021 (en) - VAST improvements: Seth Berman from Instantiations

18.11.12, 08:00:00 by SmalltalkInspect

In Episode 21 of Smalltalk Inspect we talk to Seth Berman, Senior Software Engineer at Instantiations about his career in and out of the Smalltalk world and his start at Instantiations in May 2011. First, we lift one of the best kept secrets of the JWARS project before he tells us a bit about some of the projects Seth has worked on before joining the VA Smalltalk engineering team at Instantiations. We chat a little about how different it is to work on a development tool than it was working on a "normal" project, and whether and how providing support to developers changes life as a developer.
A very well-received addition to VA Smalltalk called VA Code Assist was mainly Seth's work - and reason enough for us to try and get Seth aboard. This slick and nicely integrated syntax completion tool made coding in VA Smalltalk much better and nicer than it sounds in the first place. He goes on to explain that Code Assist is not the end of the road for Instantiations and that they are just starting to work on improvements to teh VA Smalltalk IDE. Of course, we couldn't resist adding a few ideas to the list.
We talk about the target audience for Instantiations and the Smalltalk market as it looks from the company's perspective, the lack of visibility of Smalltalk in the academic world (which is probably less true in Europe than it is in the U.S.) and get some insight into Instantiations' current highest priority projects: the VM and VASTs support for operatings systems of the future.

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#020 - AAA : Auktionen, Amber und Android: Interview mit Stefan Krecher

22.10.12, 00:01:00 by SmalltalkInspect

Willkommen zu Episode 20 von Smalltalk Inspect. Diesmal ist es ein Interview mit Stefan Krecher, der uns in den letzten Wochen und Monaten durch einige interessante Blogposts aufgefallen war. Er hat verschiedene Ansätze ausprobiert, Smalltalk als alleinige Programmiersprache für Anwendungen auf Android-Geräten zu nutzen. Ansätze, die zumindest prototypisch gut funktionieren, gibt es verschiedene:

  • Redline Smalltalk: Android ist ja bekanntlich vor allem eine Google-eigene Java-VM namens Dalvik.  Was läge da näher, als sich eine Smalltalk-Implementierung anzuschauen, die nativ auf einer Java-VM läuft. Komischerweise haben wir über diesen Ansatz gar nicht allzu viel gesprochen

  • Amber Smalltalk und PhoneGap: Was soll ich sagen? Amber ist einfach eine coole Sache: Smalltalk wird in JavaScript übersetzt und kann damit auf jedem modernen Browser laufen, insbesondere natürlich auch auf mobilen Browsern. Als Smalltalk-Implmentierung, die vollständig im Web-Browser abläuft, also auch die Entwicklungsumgebung, hat das ein ganz besonderes Appeal. Stefan fand aber die Sache mit PhoneGap und dem Einpacken in wundersame Scripts etc. ein bisschen schwergewichtig

  • Squeak auf Android (ein Fork des ursprünglichen Squeak on Android): Ja, das gibt es. Squeak und Pharo können auf Android laufen, sind dann aber - wie eben auch auf dem PC - durch ihre sehr eigene Implementierung von Widgets ein bischen "fremd" anzusehen. Ausserdem sind sie nicht gerade leichtgewichtig.

  • GNU Smalltalk nativ auf dem Device mit einem Binding an SL4A (das Scripting Layer for Android): Stefan hat "einfach mal" GNU Smalltalk für Android cross-kompiliert. Und es läuft auf seinen Geräten. Das hat ihn ermuntert, SL4A aus GNU-ST heraus anzubinden und damit native Oberflächen für Android zu erstellen. Das ganze läuft sehr stabil und klingt absolut vielversprechend, auch wenn es noch nicht perfekt ist.

Also wieder mal eine super spannende Angelegenheit.

Wie immer freuen wir uns über Kommentare, Anregungen und Themenvorschläge. Wie hat Euch diese Episode gefallen? Habt Ihr ähnliche oder ganz andere Erfahrungen gemacht? Schreibt uns Kommentare oder mailt uns an. Auch wenn Smalltalk Inspect langweilig und überflüssig ist, würden wir gerne darüber bescheid wissen. Wir könnten dann vielleicht unsere Zeit in ein Blog für Schmetterlingszüchter oder einen Bierdeckel-Podcast stecken...

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#019 (en) - Shrinking Smalltalk - and building it up from the ground again: Craig Latta about Spoon

26.08.12, 15:00:00 by SmalltalkInspect

Here at Smalltalk Inspect, the summer heat is not passing by without a trace. Both Sebastian and Marten were unavailable, but we did an interview with Craig Latta about his progress on Spoon and - more importantly - Naiad (which means Name and Identity are Distinct), the module system for the Smalltalk of the future. So you see we're doing our best to keep the podcast up and inform you about what's new in and aroung the Smalltalk world, even in the hottest time of the year!

While Spoon aims at identifying the minimum amount of Smalltalk code to build a working system on top of, from basic I/O to network communications and loading additional code, NAIAD is Craig's attempt to building a Smalltalk-Platform independent way of defining, loading and running modules within a NAIAD runtime envorinment, which Spoon can be seen as an example of.

A system like NAIAD offers many interesting options, like the exchange of code between Smalltalk platforms without any porting effort. Just imagine one single code base of your favorite framework with no porting or maintenance forks. We also cover a cool concept of moving code to a deployment image/object space by running tests and only move code that's been run - what a cool way of defining Code Coverage! Only tested code in y our deliverable!

There's a lot more good stuff in the episode and you should definitely listen to this episode if you ever dreamed of building a deliverable from the ground up, securing your executable by guaranteeing that there's not a single line of unneeded code in it and lots more.
If you're interested in reading more about Spoon and Naiad, you can visit Craig's blog named "thisContext".

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#018 (en) - Can chips do Smalltalk? - Jecel Assumpcao Jr. about SiliconSqueak

15.07.12, 15:00:00 by SmalltalkInspect

[Update] We've just updated a few links because somebody had messed the whole thing up a little ;-) So if you wondered what some linked documents have to do with what this text said they would, please try again now.[/Update]

We're continuing our journey to areas where only few people would think they'll find Smalltalk. This time we talk to Jecel Assumpcao Jr. about the SiliconSqueak project, an attempt to build Computers to natively run Smalltalk bytecodes.

Jecel starts by taking us back to the early 70'ies when Xerox Parc had machines that were optimized to run Smalltalk, through the eighties when people found out you can also run bytcodes really fast (whatever that may have meant on hardware of that day) on standard architectures, right into the near future where the SiliconSqueak project will offer a fully functional computer that can run Squeak Smalltalk, and thus Scratch and Etoys natively.

We're talking about why you'd want to run Smalltalk on bare metal, the different techniques for accelerating Smalltalk code in Hardware, the implications of multi-core and multi-processor architectures on Smalltalk and programming in general. We also cover some Smalltalk history and so make the whole thing once again an interesting and inspiring discussion.

If you want to learn more about the things we've covered, here's a list of links for you:

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#017 (en) - Hello? Smalltalk calling! Igor Stasenko on FFI, Alien and NativeBoost

17.06.12, 20:57:09 by SmalltalkInspect

In this episode we talk to Igor Stasenko about ways to call external code in Smalltalk code, especially on Pharo Smalltalk (most of the FFI discussion is also valid for Squeak). Igor is a software engineer at the Inria Research Institute in Lille, France, the inofficial (?) epicenter of the Pharo world. His job there is to maintain and look after all and everything related to "infrastructure" in and around Pharo Smalltalk, including the VM.

We start our discussion with the question whether and when you'd want to interface to external libraries before we speak about to the available technologies in Pharo to do so. This ranges from how to declare external functions and define output and input data structures to hand between the Smalltalk Image and external functions.

We not only cover FFI (Foreign Function Interface) but also speak about Alien, which started life in the Newspeak project.

A discussion on such technical stuff as calling native code and external libraries from within a VM wouldn't be complete without some talk on the actual VM (Cog), so we also cover the cog VM and Eliot Miranda's work on latest Smalltalk VM technologies.

The third part of the interview concentrates on NativeBoost, a project started by Igor that allows to define executable machine code within a Smalltalk image and run it (natively) under the control of the Smalltalk image. Igor used it to use the cairo Graphics Library as one of the backends for Athens- a vector graphics framework for Pharo (see video here)

You can learn more at the following sites:

Download MP3 (37,3 MB)

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