The gods have taste

David Pollak talks about Smalltalk being the language of the gods. To summarize he talks favorably about the language and community surrounding Smalltalk but also the “requirements” [my word] that the language demands. Here’s a quote that sums his post up:

“I am not sure I’d make the commitment to being a god that Smalltalk requires. Most of the developers I meet on a day-to-day basis… the kind of developers who work hard and are conscientious in the work for 10 or so hours a day are not looking for an environment that requires a mind meld. They’re looking for a tool to achieve their goals. From what I’ve experienced with Smalltalk, I don’t think Smalltalk is that kind of tool.”

He goes onto say that the “requirements” of Smalltalk will relegate it to being a niche language.

I agree with a lot of what he says. I agree Smalltalk does require more from it’s users then other languages. I agree that it, as a result of that commitment, delivers more to it’s users. I agree that it is a thing of beauty and could possible be the language of the gods. However, I don’t agree that it will always be a niche language. The jury’s still out.

When I was younger I too looked for the path of least resistance. Heck, for a long time I didn’t even bother to comment my code because it was more important to churn out the programs then to “document.” Well, now that I’m firmly ensconced in the second half of my life I’ve learned to appreciate spending some extra time to get a better “product.” Because of that I have, so to speak, truly learned to love Smalltalk and to be willing to spend that extra time to reap the rewards.

While I didn’t come out of the pioneers of computing I like to think I came out of the early days of computing. After all I do remember a world before the Internet and PC’s, where disks were stored in “packs” and were removable from their drives. I think it would be a safe bet to say that most of the programming population came after me (and was probably born after I started programming, gag!). Perhaps as the world’s programmers age and mature and start to appreciate the finer things in life, they too will learn to love and devote themselves to Smalltalk.

If not, I’m still OK with that. Things that stay niche tend to keep their beauty and don’t get watered down by the latest fad. We might be best served to keep Smalltalk as our own little secret.


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