VFE 2010: after the show

This year’s VA Smalltalk Forum Europe 2010 went quite well. We’ve had more than 50 registrations and only a hand full of people who didn’t show up.

We’ve had no major problems, all presentations went well, without any technical problems and as far as I can tell, people thought the talks were interesting. We’re still working on the feedback froms, so I’m still waiting for all the facts 😉

My personal highlights in the talks were

  • Georg Heeg gave an interesting overview of Smalltalk’s history and showed some very interesting Smalltalk projects that have nothing to do with typical Banking or Insourance Applications.
  • Mike Taylor (CEO of Instantiations) said Instantiations is increasing their investments in VA Smalltalk, including an increase of the development team.
  • John O’Keefe gave an update on VAST 8.0.2 and upcoming versions. My highlight here was Instantiations is not only shipping GLROP, but also included documentation for it in the database guide
  • Lukas gave a really nice overview of Seaside. I like his presentation style and slides very much. I was fascinated by the way his talk inspired people to use Seaside in their existing projects. I had seen this before and also saw it when I talked about Seaside at the VFE 2008. The usage examples Lukas showed were partly new to me.
  • My talk went quite well, even the three micro demos I gave worked well. About 45 minutes before my talk, my laptop had seemingly died. I had started up Keynote with my presentations and VMWare with VAST and closed the lid. During Lukas’ talk I opened it to have a short look at some slides and found it to not wake up any more and not react to any keystroke or the power button. You probably need not much fantasy to feel my panic. Fortunately, removing the battery and inserting it again helped.
    I was impressed to see that people were discussing about my talk later and got some nice comments by email. I must have hit some nerve with the topic of working on Smalltalk legacy projects.
  • Marten Feldtman was awarded as the top poster of open source code to VASTGoodies.com. He’s really uploaded a lot of code to the site, most of which is his own work rather than just ports from other Smalltalk dialects.
  • Sebastian Heidbrink gave a more business oriented talk on transforming existing VAST applications into Web Services servers that can be put into the (enterprise) cloud and continue to deliver value for another decade. He also introduced his company (Tricept) which is not new to Smalltalk or VAST, but joined Instantiations and objektfabrik as a Business Partner this year.
  • Diane Engles gave a remote demo of how to integrate a VAST based Web Service with a client that’s implemented in VisualStudio (VisualBasic). It was a walk-through of exposing Smalltalk methods as a web service. So you could say her talk went hand in hand with Sebastian’s.
  • John’s talk on porting code from Squeak/Pharo into VAST and on using VASTGoodies (which he obviously really likes a lot) for open source Smalltalk code for VAST not only showed how to export code from Squeak/Pharo, but also what problem areas you’ll have to look into when porting.
  • Eric Clayberg joined us remotely for a Q&A session. My personal highlights here was a question on a multithreaded VM and once again a question about VAST on Mac OS X. 64 bit was also a topic. Since the Mac OS X question was not asked by any of the usual suspects (Marten or me), but by someone I haven’t met before, it seems there is some real interest in it. 64 bit is on the agenda at Instantiations while a Multithreaded VM is not. I guess that’s far less a problem than it seems, because implementing and synchronizing green threads can be hard enough without the VM running threads as OS threads. We discussed a bit about a framework for enabling object sharing and synchronizing two or more images rather than enabling the VM to use multiple cores, which I guess would be sufficient for most uses and also allow for interesting projects
  • Most people stayed for an after-show snack and were discussing a lot.
    I’ve had some interesting chats with people and also got some feedback on the event, which was very positive. Since we had a lot of talks that day, some people thought the networking aspect didn’t work out as good as in the past. So we may have to remove one slot for next time.

We’re currently collecting all slides and remote sessions and will make them available soon. I’ll keep you updated on that. Since Marten recorded the whole event on video I guess we’ll also be able to publish all talks in video form as well. So stay tuned to learn more.

There have already been more blog posts on the forum and you can also download pictures from the event from adriaan’s online gallery.