John O’Keefe gave his regular VAST Update talk at Smalltalk Solutions this year, detailing their plans for VA Smalltalk.
The main slides for me are the announcements of major features for the next release that is scheduled for Summer 2011 (which, by John’s definition can be very long this year – but I have nothing against a long warm summer 😉 ):
So we’ll finally see full support for UTF-8 for e.g. Seaside and we’ll get Continuations. Even if Continuations aren’t really needed for most Web Apps today, VA ST’s port of Seaside will finally be compliant to the available Seaside documentation.
I especially look forward to the new GUI controls on Windows. VA ST has been missing many newer windows widgets for a long time now and some freshup in this area is greatly appreciated. Especially the fact that they plan to support these new Widgets in both the Composition Editor and WindowBuilder shows their commitment to both tools. An important message to all existing customers.
And I really look forward to a better merge tool and code completion. Every time I come back to VAST after working in Xcode I miss it.
A settings framework will be the foundation for a major cleanup of the menu structures in VA Smalltalk. If you load a handful of extensions into VAST, you’ll find some sort of settings, preferences and defaults in almost every menu, spread over the whole tool. Once a central settings framework is in place, it’s relatively easy to clean this up.
So the message is that Instantiations is now taking concrete steps to go forward with VA Smalltalk. If all of these announcements come true for the next release (there are more minor changes mentioned in the talk), this will be a major step forward.
I am also glad to see that Instantiations has picked up some of these plans from discussions on the VA Smalltalk support forum and personal talks with users and partners. I’ve been blogging about some of these topics and have discussed them with other users and customers as well as with Instantiations in the past and I know the input came from several other sources as well.