Today seems to be my Smalltalk-news-blogging-day 😉 It started off with an announcement from Instantiations about plans for the next release.
Just a few minutes ago Esteban Lorenzano announced on the Pharo Mailing List that Pharo 8 will be based on Spec 2.0, a new version of the still quite young GUI framework in Pharo. This would not be a sensation by itself, people are releasing 2.0’s of something all the time. The real announcement in this announcement is that Spec 2.0 will be suitable of running on top of GtK 3 and therefor Pharo will soon be able to support native widgets on virtually all supported platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac). So native look&feel is coming to Pharo! How’s that?
I’m a bit sceptical all of this will be “finished” in Pharo 8 (if Pharo 8 is scheduled for the next 12-18 months), but the move is the right one in my opinion.
Yes, we do use the Cloud. And yes, RESTful services and web applications seem to be everywhere. But still we do use lots of locally installed tools every day. And there, look & feel is important. Most Smalltalk IDEs feel a bit foreign on their host operating systems. Historically, this is for a good reason: The IDE’s GUI was cross-platform from the very beginning. The GUI was emulated and/or completely home made and just used a few graphics directives of the hosting operating system. And this has been a problem for many Smalltalk dialects for decades: they looked and felt strange.
That’s why Smalltalk IDEs like Dolphin and Ambrai (long forgotten) were so nice in my opinion: they behaved like a native application.
These days can soon be over, and I hope Pharo will spear head a movement here and show how well things work.