I’ve been meaning to learn Smalltalk for years now. Recently Dave Astels and
I have a had a few discussion on the topic. They all seem to circulate around
the theme of Smalltalk being a key OO language of the past, and again in the
Now that Ruby has finally captures the attention it deserves, it’s not long
before Smalltalk is back in the spotlight.
A few days ago, when he joined me for a train ride, I seized the opportunity
and asked him to help me write some Smalltalk. He gave me a copy of Squeak
and off we went to write the Bowling game.
Even though we only got through the first two test cases, Dave’s a good
teacher and I was able to finish it on my own. The code is below.
My first impression of Smalltalk: “Damn, this requires a lot of clicking”. It
requires two clicks just to run a test and another 5 clicks to see what
failed. Dave gave me funny looks when I complained about this but I couldn’t
believe people programmed this way.
Later my dad, remembering a demo by Kent Beck, reassured me that there are
keyboard shortcuts for everything. Thank goodness!
In general it’s a sweet language. Experience with Ruby and Objective C
exposed me to many of the concepts so there weren’t many surprises.
Perhaps the most peculiar thing I ran into was the Smalltalk equivalent to
if/else statements. The ifTrue: ifFalse:
structure makes perfect sense but it was unexpected. An example can be seen
in the score method.
This is my first Smalltalk program and I’m sure I’ve made some newbie
blunders. Feel free to rip my code to pieces in your comments. I’d love to
hear advise and learn Smalltalk idiosyncrasies.