A round of news around VA Smalltalk

There’s a lot happening around VA Smalltalk from Instantiations at the moment, and I guess it’s time to sum up a bit:

Special Prices for Upgrades from VisualAge Smalltalk to VA Smalltalk

Instantiations has just announced a timely limited upgrade offer for existing unsers of VisualAge Smalltalk from IBM. This offer has been around for quite a while now for customers with a current support contract with IBM, but it has now been extended for all customers who use old VisualAge Smalltalk versions.

In case you haven’t heard of it yet: Instantiations took the product over from IBM in the 2005/2006 time frame and has added quite a few features and removed lots of bugs since then. The first three years were concentrated mostly towards finding out if the existing IBM customer base will be enough to build a sustainable business on. Obviously, the model showed to be successful enough so that Instantiations sold their whole Java Business to Google last year. Since around 2009, Instantiations is investing in improving the tool, with the Web Framework Seaside probably being the most prominent addition to VAST.

My company, objektfabrik, has been a business partner and reseller for VA Smalltalk since the very beginning. We’ve helped quite a few customers migrate from older VisualAge versions to VA Smalltalk and offer help in this area to anyone interested. Of course, you can always give us a call to get a quote on VA Smalltalk, be it as a former VisualAge customer or as a newcomer to VA Smalltalk. We also participate in the secial pricing program including the competitive upgrade program (both at an official price of 2495 USD). Feel free to contact us for an individual price in Euros if you are in Germany, Austria, Switzerland (the price will be in Swiss Francs in that case 😉 ), Belgium, Luxembourg or The Netherlands. We’re happy to help.

Features to come

As I mentioned already, Instantiations took its time to set up a sustainable business with VA Smalltalk. While both Instantiations and their (our) customers were very cautious about how the transition from IBM to Instantiations will work out, the speed of changes to VAST is slowly increasing. Early this year, they hired a very experienced VA ST developer for their development team and still are looking for new blood.

Back in March, John O’Keefe (lead developer) announced the planned features for VA ST 9 (the version number is my guess, not an official announcement) at the Smalltalk Solutions Conference in Vegas. Most important was a full support of UTF-8, improvements to the GUI libraries and improved development tools. I already blogged about the announcements in more detail.

Besides that, the development team started open discussions with customers and users on their VA Smalltalk support forum about ways to improve the tool set. This way they try to collect as much feedback from users as possible. The discussed topics included

And these discussion threads were started by Instantiations staff in order to collect feedback and ideas.

A sneak peek at Code Completion with a brand new goodie from Instantiations

The latest news here is that Instantiations released a prototype of a code completion extension for code browsers on VASTGoodies.com:

These browsers are in ‘Alpha’, provided by Instantiations, Inc., and were developed on VA Smalltalk 8.0.3.  Besides having ‘content assist’, the hard coded coloring was removed […]
The ‘method list box’ and ‘source text pane’ have been moved inside their respective notebooks.  They were originally outside and below the tabs.
‘Use Method List Notebook’ has been removed from the options menu because the model, up in the superclasses, is designed to work with one widget (one class list, one method list, one source text pane, etc.).  I’ve experimented with multiple source text panes and multiple method lists. […]
Content assist pops up after four characters are typed.  It can be turned of by hitting escape.  The escape key is a toggle, on/off.

And you can not only try the prototype, but Instantiations also asks for your help in improving it:

Send feedback to the forum, ‘http://forums.instantiations.com/viewforum.php?f=12’, or ‘t…@instantiations.com’.

[I blurred the mail address in order to save Taylor from unnecessary spam]

I’ve downloaded and tried teh goodie a little and must say it works very well and is much faster than I’d expect. I have posted a few comments about what I’ve found so far to the Support Forum in the hope I can help improve VAST.

So there are good reasons to look forward to coming releases of VA Smalltalk!