Is it time to look for alternatives to Visual Smalltalk Enterprise?

Over on the ESUG mailing list [UPDATE: interestingly, the discussion goes on on the squeak-dev mailing list], somebody complains¬† about “Cincom killing VSE”, a Smalltalk IDE called Visual Smalltalk Enterprise that has been officially discontinued for a very long time now.

The original poster makes it very clear that he is frustrated about the fact that Cincom is not developing VSE any further and charges “big” for fixes. There are, however, quite a few points to consider about this whole VSE affair:

  • Cincom doesn’t own all the rights on the product, so it is a big risk to invest in any work on it
  • The legal situation is probably complicated enough to make it impossible to open source VSE
  • Cincom now has three Smalltalk products on the market, all of which are somewhat different and need to be maintained. From a business stand point, there might be very strong arguments against maintaining a fourth one

VSE has been in this state for many years now (more than 10, to be exact), and the product is still around. I know a few companies who still use it for production systems that are not particularly small or unimportant. In fact these are systems supporting their core business. There still are teams working on new features for systems that are built in an IDE that has not received any updates for more than a decade.