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VAST is cross-platform at a source-code level, with
each platform's version tightly integrated for maximum performance and user-interface conformance. Its tools are not quite as nice as other versions of Smalltalk on the market but it can do what is necessary. This development environment is slower than others, but holds up well and is a great choice if interested in integrating with other IBM products. It enjoys a robust community that actively grows third-party support and offers effective development collaboration.
VAST does have a high cost with only one licensing
option, which is per seat which is why it is more ideally suited to a corporate development environment. It is currently the de facto standard for corporate Smalltalk development.

Dolphin Smalltalk

Dolphin is the de facto Smalltalk for the Windows
platform and for good reason. The development environment is incredibly fast and exposes portions of the Win32 API directly. This is not required for common development, but it does give access to features of the Windows platform. Its class library is great, but not large. The Model View Presenter (a derivate of the MVC pattern) framework is a nice abstraction on top of the Windows message driven user-interface and greatly leverages application development.
Dolphin integrates natively with the Windows user-
interface so applications can use the most up-to-date controls offered by Microsoft and other parties. Dolphin has an intuitive packaging system for importing and exporting code and third-party SCM products, such as Source Tracking System from Gorisek (www.gorisek.com), which supplies ENVY type functionality within Dolphin at an extremely reasonable price.
Dolphin includes the latest refactoring browser offered
by Refactory, Inc. The interfaces to Visual-Works and Dolphin are nearly identical which is a great productivity enhancer since one tends to do serious develop-ment in both products. It is reasonably priced supplying an incredible Smalltalk in a compact and mature package.

Smalltalk MT

Smalltalk MT, another Smalltalk developed specifically
for the Windows platform, is unique in that it is a compiled Smalltalk. All other Smalltalks on the market are implemented on top of a Virtual Machine and use Just in Time compilation for performance. MT, on the other hand, compiles each method into native x86 op-codes for maximum performance.

Related Links


VisualAge for Smalltalk:

Dolphin Smalltalk:

Smalltalk MT:
www.objectconnect.com or www.genify.com


Squeak http:


GNU Smalltlak:

While MT is a true Smalltalk and benefits from many of its
features, I often have difficulty with the product. Stability is a constant issue, due to it being compiled instead of interpreted. It allows for direct memory manipulation and direct embedding of x86 assembly language in methods. MT promotes itself for game development and has a DirectX class library built specifically for this task. I have used it enough to feel it is designed for games and affords performance directly comparable to Visual C++ compiled code. MT's class library is very terse and does not abstract much beyond the Win32 API. An MFC programmer will feel at home using Smalltalk MT.
MT is reasonably priced with excellent support. The user community is small, but growing and because of its low price, I'd recommend every Smalltalk programmer use MT for those performance sensitive areas instead of writing them in C or C++.


GemStone/S is a multi-user, server based, Smalltalk.
The closest analogy is a cross between Oracle and a J2EE application server such as WebLogic or WebSphere. However, this does not do it justice because it is much simpler to use and many times more powerful. Some consider GemStone/S an OODBMS or Object-Oriented Database Management System and in the strictest sense, it is but it is also a very powerful application server can handle transactions in the tens of thousands.
GemStone/S has an ample class library, but does not
support GUI development directly. In theory it is possible to host web applications from it directly, but it does not support this functionality at this time. Some developers in the community have looked into this, which would make it a complete application server.
Using GemBuilder, a separate product that integrates
with VisualWorks or VisualAge for Smalltalk, it is easy and highly productive to develop GemStone/S applications. It is costly, but worth every penny for the right projects.


There are others, such as Squeak, GNU Smalltalk, and
SmallScript. The last, in particular, is still under development but once developed will integrate directly with VisualStudio.NET and promises to introduce the entire Microsoft developer community to Smalltalk and its many benefits.

As one can see, Smalltalk deserves its name - the
language is concise yet powerful. While Java is looking forward to its first decade, Smalltalk is well past its second. With age comes a mature community, class libraries, and vendor support and for most software projects this means programmer productivity. As the examples in this article show, Smalltalk streamlines common programming tasks by using a natural language approach and dynamic typing. These attributes, combined with flexible development tools -- written in Smalltalk - give programmers a powerful toolkit to tackle any problem, large or small.
Java isn't the only new game in town. The next time a
project requires an object-oriented langauge, consider a language that started it all -- Smalltalk.


If you are still interested in learning more about Smalltalk,
please visit Why Smalltalk (www.whysmalltalk.com) or Worker Bee Solutions, Inc. (www.workerbee.com).
Jeff has been a programmer for over fifteen years and a
consultant for the past seven. He currently lives in Illinois where he herds Siamese cats - who love Smalltalk - and runs his consultancy, Worker Bee Solutions. You can reach him at jeff.panici@workerbee.com.

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