Last night Instantiations sent out a newsletter informing users and fans of VA Smalltalk about the latest developments around VA Smalltalk.
It’s not too much of a surprise that Instantiations is working on a new release 9.2 of VA Smalltalk which is scheduled to arrive later this year (let’s speculate a little and spread rumors about the timeframe of the ESUG 2019 conference in Cologne, Germany, starting August 26th…).
The more surprising things in their newsletter is that there will be a JIT-Compiler that makes the new VM even faster than before. So not only do we have pure 64 bit VM’s since release 9.0 (9.1 for Linux), which already beats the old VM in many fields, we’ll soon have an even faster one. I really look forward to enabling or Kontolino! users to work even faster.
VisualAge (which was VA Smalltalk’s name back in the IBM days) has always been designed to be cross-platform. Back when it came out in the early 90ies, it targeted OS/2, AIX and Windows, soon to be followed by Solaris and HP-UX. You write Smalltalk code, VA ST does the rest for you. That has always been the idea and the base design principle for most if not all class libraries in VA ST. A decade and a half or so ago, IBM came out with a version for Linux, which powers our web applications and many services at other customers. My guess is that this platform has yet to see its peak in usage in VA Smalltalk, as more and more systems move from fat clients to either REST or web servers.
The next big step will be IoT platforms, most of which are based on ARM processors. Started as a hobby project, it turned out that a port of VAST to ARM was not only feasible but also easy and the resulting programs turned out to be performant enough to run on small devices like the Raspberry PI. So it’s only logical that there will be a VA Smalltalk port to ARM devices.
My personal dream based on this is that Instantiations will one day find out it is even feasible to support not only IoT machines, but also ARM-based tablets and Smartphones (I know, Android is not Linux and running headless Smalltalk code on an ARM processor is not even half the rent to running a GUI application in a new operating system, but, otoh, Linux enthusiasts all around the planet are working on end-user targeted Linux-Distros for tablets and Smartphones based on X Windows, so never say never!).
So I think it is fair to say that Instantiations is working on a few very interesting and promising things at the moment – as they’ve been over the last few years. It seems Smalltalk is going to be around for another decade or two (and beyond), and may even become stronger. Instantiations has obvious plans to be among the leading commercial vendors in that field.
If you want to read the full newsletter from Instantiations, you can do so here. And if you are interested in Instantiations’ product roadmap, please follw me here.
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