Future of Squeak
Future of Squeak by Dan Shafer
Current Draft: futuresqueak2.pdf
John Tobler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Unfortunately, I could not find anything wrong with this draft. It made me feel like I was not doing a good job. Fortunately, it is great. I found it very informative. Thanks.
Trying to be constructively critical:
It is a bit difficult to say something "The future of Squeak". It appears to be an attempt to hype Squeak to some extent, as it contains a great deal of rather loosely founded speculation or even wishful thinking, but this may not be a flaw given those ambitions.
- For example, exaggerating a little, it seems that Dave Smith's BlobMorph has been taken to indicate a major future IBM "Buy-In" into Squeak.
- I don't know the substance of the MPEG player piece either.
Just to name two things.
But, since most of the chapter is entirely speculative in nature, it seems inappropriate to give any comments on a more detailed level. The chapter strikes me as the first book version of an Internet rumor site. A problem with this genre, which the author notes, is that the text will probably be obsolote before it is printed.
Style-wise, I find it a little bit too journalistic and "cheery" for my taste. But that is subjective, and again, that may be the desired effect.
As for typos, if that kind of feedback is desired,
page 8, next-to-last paragraph, right after "traipsing"
Otherwise, it gives quite a finished impression.
I think I found a mistake in the paper, it says:
"Squeak has also been successfully ported to the Palm Pilot...."
Squeak has not been ported to the Palm Pilot.
This chapter had more the feel of an magazine article to me than of a book chapter.This was given by the multiple use of short quotes from various sources and the "by the time you read this..." reference.
I don't know enough else about Squeak to comment more fully.
What about OpenGL support in Squeak or perhaps some other 3D engine?
One thing that I did miss w.r.t. distributed, enterprise computing is the ability of Squeak to interoperate with existing databases, servers, and vertical systems. Where is Squeak on these things?
Lastly, while I found the parallels to Linux interesting, I think the biggest thing going for Linux, which you missed, is the general industry loathing of Microsoft Windows. It could be argued that there is growing animosity to both C++ and Java.Nevertheless, such a parallel comparison with Linux is tenuous and the success of Linux could prove to be short-lived (in other words, sadly dating this comparison).It may be more appropriate to point out how Linux with the addition of Squeak provides an immensely rich, flexible, and powerful combination for a wide variety of uses.
It might be useful, either in this chapter or somewhere else in the book, to identify the contributors and their contributions, much like the "Who's Who" of Squeak pages.
Mark's Review of "The Future of Squeak"
WOW! This was the first chapter that I read, and one that got me very excited about the scope of the vision that we were describing.
A couple of over-arching questions that occurred to me reading this chapter:
- What's Squeak? To you, what are the key pieces? Could you say something about that up-front? As we went along in the chapter, the definition because fuzzy. While that's okay, because it IS fuzzy, I think it would be easier for the novice. For example, Squeak is Morphic, EToys, Swiki, and it has a kernel. What's in the kernel? Where is Comanche in relation to these?
- One of the ideas that I think Squeak challenges is that of an application. What's an application in Squeak? Is it a set of objects that I add to my "system" (in the form of "goodies"?) which then extends what I can do and reuse? Or is it a set of features (e.g., when Squeak is in my cellphone or set-top box) that get added when I click a button or make a phone call, but the whole "system" is invisible? When ".exe" files disappear, places like Microsoft need to start worrying. (It reminds me of the story in "Dealers of Lightning" where a Xerox executive is watching a demo of the Star and asks, "Where's the click?" referring to the counter on pages produced from a printer that was related to the charges that Xerox charged. What do you charge for when "Where's the app?")
- p. 2: The explanation of ImageSegments is pretty techie – it would be hard for someone with, say, a Java or C++ background to grok (unless they had dug deep enough into GC to find "root objects"). Can we expand this a bit?
- p. 3: We're introducing "e-toy environment" but I'm not sure that anyone will know what it is at this point in the book (unless JohnM's chapter on Morphic touches on it).
- p. 3: "Squeak...to the Palm Pilot" Actually, it's only been ported to WinCE as of this writing.
- p. 4: Alice is in Python, not Lisp
- p. 4: HyperOffice sounds very cool – could you expand on that some so that we know what it's about? Any chance for a screenshot?
- p. 4: I don't think that "bit-identical images" has anything to do with "BitBlt," but you may know of a connection that I'm glossing it over.
- p. 6: "Squeak Centralist" sounds like a member of the Politburo (sp?), no?
- p. 7: As Kim noted, we should probably beware the Disney refs...
- p. 8: "In fact, that goal gives the language its name." We should fill one chapter just with stories on where the name "Squeak" came from...:-)
- p. 12 (and elsewhere): The reference to "music capabilities into computers" might include a ref out to Stephen Pope's chapter on Siren. In general, where possible, I'd appreciate pointers from your chapter into the others. I can imagine people picking up the book in the bookstore, jumping directly to your chapter after recognizing your name, and then deciding whether or not to buy the book based on the vision of Squeak you paint. Showing them that the book goes into more detail on the themes of your chapter would be a service to the rest, and you'd have our gratitude!
This is a very exciting chapter to read, even for someone working at Squeak Central. It strikes a nice balance between near-term and long-term (and more speculative) predictions, and it reads well. I love that opening quote from Nietzche.
I agree with some of the other readers that the tone sometimes gets somewhat breezy and chatty–more like a magazine article than a book. Since the writing is strong overall, I know you could tighten up the prose if you wanted to, so I'll leave that up to your best judgement.
I did find a few factual errors. Understandable, given how fast we talked during our interview with you, but they definitely should be fixed. There are also one or two things that just shouldn't be printed here, such as the speculation about why the Squeak project at Interval was shut down.
p 3. "...successfully ported to the Palm Pilot..."
No, Squeak doesn't run on PalmPilot. It does run on Windows CE
devices from HP, Compaq, Casio, and others.
p.3 "Squeak team brought in"
"worked with" is more accurate; we didn't select the student;
he was a summer intern for the semiconductor company
p. 3 "In three weeks"
Actually, it was eight weeks. But that's still really fast.
p. 4 "origins in LISP"
The original Alice is based on Python.
p. 4 (and elsewhere): "chapter X"
Search for and fill in these references, since the chapter
numbering is now decided.
p. 5 "speech recognition and synthesis"
Squeak doesn't yet do speech recognition that I know of.
I'd replace this with "sound, music, and speech synthesis"
p. 6 "form factors entirely in Squeak Morphic"
Drop the word "Morphic" here.
p. 6 "Mahoney"
Typo. Should be "Maloney".
p. 6 "entirely feasible." All of"
Extra double-quote; the quotation continues.
p. 6 footnote on Interval Research:
Yikes! Please don't include the bit about Squeak being killed
in favor of WinCE. First, that was only speculation. Second,
all of Interval Research was shut down in April of this year.
I suggest that you add "and Interval Research has since
closed its doors" right after "the project was shelved"
and delete the remainder of that sentence and the following
p. 9 "at the home address of some famous rodent."
Please delete this phrase. It's too obvious and the reference to
Disney has already been made clear.
p. 13 "Ingall's and Kaehler's work"
Make that "Kay's and Kaehler's work".
That's all. Thanks!
The previous comments are from John Maloney. I just forgot to include my name before submitting them. You can reach me at "John.Maloney@disney.com".
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