Monday, February 4, 2013

Why Smalltalk?

Why would anybody be interested in an old language like Smalltalk?

I know quite a few of my readers are, among other languages I am sure, Scala programmers. I quite like Scala and its balance of OO and functional programming on a serving of static typing with inference. Scala has been the perfect vehicle for me to grok functional programming.

I am fond of learning different languages who makes different trade-offs and are suited for different architectures or goals.

What I find in Smalltalk, is a message-passing approach to OO mixed with functional-like features like blocks on a serving of dynamic typing. This is definitively a different beast that what we have been accustomed to consider as OO languages. Ironically, that old-school language feels like a breeze of fresh air!

Smalltalk has a wonderful variety of implementations, Pharo and Squeak being the dominant open-source options, along with the notable Amber who targets JavaScript.

There is yet another implementation that deserves attention, for it makes the same decision as Scala to target the JVM. It is called Redline Smalltalk, is definitively a real Smalltalk, and I believe is poised to reinvigorate Smalltalk.

I urge you to take on Redline as your "new" language to learn for 2013, or if only to help foster a healthy, varied ecosystem on the JVM, to make a small donation on Redline's indiegogo campaign. Read the article and watch the video on the campaign site to learn more about the rationale and the dedicated, passionate and friendly human beings behind Redline Smalltalk!

Help Redline, and you help all the JVM languages by having one more compelling reason for the JVM infrastructure.

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