One of the major concerns of former Smalltalkers or people who are not using Smalltalk is that it might be a niche technology or even a dying one.
There are many indications of the opposite: The Smalltalk Community is neither dying nor going to go away any time soon. The latest piece of information on the topic comes from Mike Taylor, CEO of Instantiations, the company that sells VA Smalltalk.
In a recent mailing to customers, prospects and partners, he writes:
I’m very happy to bring you a bit of good news in what, for many people and companies, has been a tough year. In the midst of “choppy” economic waters, VA Smalltalk™ (VAST) had a very good year in 2009. VAST’s robust year-over-year growth continues and the user community has increased significantly.
The complete text has also been posted to the VAST Support Forum.
My personal view is that growth in the Smalltalk world comes from two different sources
- Projects reviving after a long and dark time of being “almost dropped” and about to be replaced by new systems lead to increasing sales of Smalltalk IDE licenses. These projects keep my company (and others) quite busy these days
- Increasing interest in dynamic languages like Ruby, Groovy or Smalltalk bring in fresh blood into open-source initiatives like Seaside, Squeak, Pharo, Gnu Smalltalk and also into the quite new market of non-commercial licenses of commercial Smalltalk IDEs like Gemstone, VisualWorks, WebVelocity, VA Smalltalk. This is a market that currently does not wash lots of money into the Smalltalk market, but fresh blood. Which, in turn, might bring the bucks in later, like a Startup that uses a free Gemstone Installation for a few years and upgrades to a full license once they make real money…
There are quite some projects looking into and using Seaside for web development, either in webifying existing in-house applications or for new applications.
The other Smalltalk vendors, mainly Cincom and Gemstone, also keep telling us about their success in getting their products into the market, not only in 2009, but also the years before.
We’re not taking over the IT market any time soon, but we’re a crowd that’s here to stay 😉