VA Smalltalk 8.6.2 is available

John O’Keefe from Instantiations sometimes makes this joke that a new release of VA Smalltalk will be out “in October” but it’s not clear yet how many days this year’s October will have.

Well, 2015 October had exactly 61 days. Instantiations just announced the availability of VA Smalltalk on November 30th, 2015.

At first sight, nothing dramatic is happening in this new edition. It is not uncommon for Instantiations to pack new and exciting features into new releases whose version number only increases at the third digit.

The most awaited evolutionary step, 64 bits, is not part of this new version (hence no version number 9), but there is a number of nice new things that will make life for Smalltalk developers easier:

  • Multi-lingual workspace support. This may not sound like much, but if you have to work with external resources like Javascript, CSS or XML, you will pretty soon be happy to have syntax highlighting and stuff for your artefacts right in your favorite IDE. This is just another proof that Instantiation’s decision to use Scintilla in VAST was a great choice. From discussions with Seth Berman and John O’Keefe I know that this is not the end of it, there is more to come in that area in upcoming releases.
  • Updates to openSSH support. OpenSSH ist not shipped with VA any more. Instead they made it easier to integrate VAST with installed openSSH on your machines. This is very important because openSSH is constantly updated due to security problems, so sticking with an old version is risky.
  • Official support for new O/S versions, like Windows 10 and Ubuntu 15.04 LTS or Fedora 22
  • Updates of Grease, Seaside and Glorp.

One feature that is not prominently mentioned in the announcement is the introduction of a new code compression/decompression algorhithm for library access. There was an evil bug in VAST that would only bite you in very special scenarios, but then it was really bad. What I am talking about are special characters in your source code that was used on different operating systems. Like if you used German umlauts in Strings in your source code and saved your code on Windows and wanted to continue development on Linux. New method editions would get “scrambled” when you saved them on Linux. This is now history, and especially for projects developing on, say, Windows and testing/fixing on Unix/Linux, this makes life a lot easier.

There are, of course a lot more small and medium improvements and bug fixes that you can read in more detail on Instantiations’ web site and in the Migration Guide.

VA 8.6.2 is free to download for customers with a current support contract. You can also register to get a free evaluation licence (no time-bombs, no restrictions, just a nag screen on startup). If you are interested in purchasing and upgrading you can contact Instantiations or, if you are in Germany, Austria or Switzerland, get in touch with us (objektfabrik). We are an official reseller of Instantiations and provide traning and consulting services for VA Smalltalk projects.
I look forward to hearing from you.