VFE 2010: after the show

This year’s VA Smalltalk Forum Europe 2010 went quite well. We’ve had more than 50 registrations and only a hand full of people who didn’t show up.

We’ve had no major problems, all presentations went well, without any technical problems and as far as I can tell, people thought the talks were interesting. We’re still working on the feedback froms, so I’m still waiting for all the facts 😉

My personal highlights in the talks were

  • Georg Heeg gave an interesting overview of Smalltalk’s history and showed some very interesting Smalltalk projects that have nothing to do with typical Banking or Insourance Applications.
  • Mike Taylor (CEO of Instantiations) said Instantiations is increasing their investments in VA Smalltalk, including an increase of the development team.
  • John O’Keefe gave an update on VAST 8.0.2 and upcoming versions. My highlight here was Instantiations is not only shipping GLROP, but also included documentation for it in the database guide
  • Lukas gave a really nice overview of Seaside. I like his presentation style and slides very much. I was fascinated by the way his talk inspired people to use Seaside in their existing projects. I had seen this before and also saw it when I talked about Seaside at the VFE 2008. The usage examples Lukas showed were partly new to me.
  • My talk went quite well, even the three micro demos I gave worked well. About 45 minutes before my talk, my laptop had seemingly died. I had started up Keynote with my presentations and VMWare with VAST and closed the lid. During Lukas’ talk I opened it to have a short look at some slides and found it to not wake up any more and not react to any keystroke or the power button. You probably need not much fantasy to feel my panic. Fortunately, removing the battery and inserting it again helped.
    I was impressed to see that people were discussing about my talk later and got some nice comments by email. I must have hit some nerve with the topic of working on Smalltalk legacy projects.
  • Marten Feldtman was awarded as the top poster of open source code to VASTGoodies.com. He’s really uploaded a lot of code to the site, most of which is his own work rather than just ports from other Smalltalk dialects.
  • Sebastian Heidbrink gave a more business oriented talk on transforming existing VAST applications into Web Services servers that can be put into the (enterprise) cloud and continue to deliver value for another decade. He also introduced his company (Tricept) which is not new to Smalltalk or VAST, but joined Instantiations and objektfabrik as a Business Partner this year.
  • Diane Engles gave a remote demo of how to integrate a VAST based Web Service with a client that’s implemented in VisualStudio (VisualBasic). It was a walk-through of exposing Smalltalk methods as a web service. So you could say her talk went hand in hand with Sebastian’s.
  • John’s talk on porting code from Squeak/Pharo into VAST and on using VASTGoodies (which he obviously really likes a lot) for open source Smalltalk code for VAST not only showed how to export code from Squeak/Pharo, but also what problem areas you’ll have to look into when porting.
  • Eric Clayberg joined us remotely for a Q&A session. My personal highlights here was a question on a multithreaded VM and once again a question about VAST on Mac OS X. 64 bit was also a topic. Since the Mac OS X question was not asked by any of the usual suspects (Marten or me), but by someone I haven’t met before, it seems there is some real interest in it. 64 bit is on the agenda at Instantiations while a Multithreaded VM is not. I guess that’s far less a problem than it seems, because implementing and synchronizing green threads can be hard enough without the VM running threads as OS threads. We discussed a bit about a framework for enabling object sharing and synchronizing two or more images rather than enabling the VM to use multiple cores, which I guess would be sufficient for most uses and also allow for interesting projects
  • Most people stayed for an after-show snack and were discussing a lot.
    I’ve had some interesting chats with people and also got some feedback on the event, which was very positive. Since we had a lot of talks that day, some people thought the networking aspect didn’t work out as good as in the past. So we may have to remove one slot for next time.

We’re currently collecting all slides and remote sessions and will make them available soon. I’ll keep you updated on that. Since Marten recorded the whole event on video I guess we’ll also be able to publish all talks in video form as well. So stay tuned to learn more.

There have already been more blog posts on the forum and you can also download pictures from the event from adriaan’s online gallery.

VA Smalltalk Forum Europe 2010: Get your Project Back in Shape!

Next week at the VA Smalltalk Forzum Europe 2010 in Stuttgart, I will be talking about some of our experiences in customer projects where they all seem to struggle with the same kinds of problems:

  • Many areas of their system’s source code are unknown land where nobody seems to have been before (at least noone from the remaining team)
  • Packaging the application is a job nobody seems to understand and everybody has great fear of
  • Jobs like configuration management, packaging, deployment and initialization are poorly documented and are always performed along an old, multi-page checklist which includes very “mystic” steps and some code snippets
  • It is impossible to load the project code into a fresh image due to poor configuration management
  • many more problems having to do with the fact that staffing, funding and motivation of the project were poor over a few years in the early 2000’s due to the “immediate end of life” of the project, which didn’t come and will possibly not come any time soon

I’ll give a short overview of tools and techniques to get back to speed in a “survived” (VA) Smalltalk Project, most of which, ironically, were invented in Smalltalk.

I’ll also show a few utilities that have grown in our customer projects to attack some of the above-mentioned problems.

So if you still haven’t registered, you should really do so now, because this is the unique chance to meet many VA Smalltalk users from all over Europe in one single room and get in touch with Instantiations as well as their partners and customers. Register here for free and join us next tuesday!

VA Smalltalk Forum Europe 2010: Registration Problems


The registration page is now working again. Early Bird registrations are not available any more, so if you register now, you missed the chance of getting a nice Polo shirt.

There are still places available, so don’t hesitate to register to learn all about VA Smalltalk and get in touch with other users!]

We’re currently having problems with the VA Smalltalk Forum Europe 2010 registration page. Our service provider (Eventbrite) has closed the early bird registration even though May 31st is not over yet.

If you want to register for the event, you can do so by trying two things:

1. Wait until later tomorrow: we’ll reopen registrations, but the persons who can access the registration settings enjoy a free day today due to Memorial Day in the U.S.

2. Send me an email. You can find my contact details here. I will put you on the list and confirm your registration.

VA Smalltalk Forum Europe 2010: Diane Engles on Web Services in VA Smalltalk

Web Services have become one of the main technologies for integrating several systems, young and old, independently of implementation language or system platform. While there is a high danger of making things very, very, very complex, their nature of being built up from more or less simple building blocks like XML and HTTP makes Web Services a very attractive choice for many Smalltalk projects.

One of our presentations at the VA Smalltalk Forum Europe 2010 in Stuttgart will be given by Diane Engles, long-time Smalltalker and member of the VA Smalltalk development team at Instantiations. She’ll show how to use VA Smalltalk as a service provider in a Web Services environment. Here’s the abstract of her talk:

This presentation demonstrates how to create and deploy a simple web service in VA Smalltalk, and how to invoke it from a Visual Studio Express Visual Basic web site running under IIS. After a short slide presentation, a live demo will follow that will take the user step by step through creating and deploying the web service, creating and deploying necessary proxy files into the ASP.NET environment, and invoking the web service from a simple Visual Basic ASP.NET web page.

Please register in advance for this free event at our event registration page to learn more about Web Services in VAST. Stuttgart is good to reach by plane, car and trains, and our event hotel is located directly at the main station. So there’s no excuse for not coming 😉

VA Smalltalk Forum Europe 2010: Sebastian Heidbrink on Web Services

Only about two weeks to go, and if you haven’t registered yet, you should know that we still have room for more visitors (although it seems we’re breaking our records this year).

Sebastian Heidbrink from Tricept AG, our new partner/competitor in VA Smalltalk consulting and sales will be presenting ways to use VA Smalltalk’s Web Services support to turn existing VA Smalltalk applications into service providers in a web services environment. From the abstract:

This session will show you how Tricept’s fat client server conversion enables others to use your reliable, or even mission critical, business logic via web services. We will deliver insight into a sample server application architecture and how it might become integrated into your service oriented system environment. See how competitive this solution is and how you can benefit from staying with or expanding with VASmalltalk.

So you really should come and meet with esperts and users in Stuttgart on June 8th. More details on the event and registration are here.

VA Smalltalk 8.0.2: not such a minor update

It’s been announced for May 26th, and it’s here now: VA Smalltalk Version 8.0.2.

The version number may suggest it’s a small update with a handful of bug fixes – well, wrong!

One of the most missed features to suppport Smalltalk newcomers interested in VA ST or for projects working with an old, unsupported persistency framework like POLAR, Micado, TOPlink or ObjectExtender, there is now a vendor-supported version of GLORP, an open-source persistence framework (or O-R-Mapping-Framework) shipped with VAST. You can now work with relational databases on a current, well-maintained database framework in VA Smalltalk. GLORP is mainly written by one of the TOPlink architects, and therefor should be a great option for TOPLink users to “upgrade” to a supported version.

But there’s more: if you need to stick a Windows Certfied Logo on your product CD, you can now do so: VAST executables are signed and Windows 7 is a fully supported platform (unfortunately, this is not entirely true when it comes to the selection of GUI widgets). So you can go and get a Windows Certification for your product.

The list of new features continues:

  • SUnit 4.0, including support for Just-in-Time Resource Management, and other enhancements, supports creating powerful Smalltalk unit tests
  • Instance-based exceptions are now polymorphic with class-based exceptions, providing clearer and more efficient handling of errors
  • Support for Seaside 3.0 pre-beta1 (We’re still waiting for Seaside 3.0 to go at least beta or better final)
  • Further improvements to HTML documentation
  • Currency with respect to operating systems and databases; support added for
    Windows 7 (32/64-bit), Ubuntu 9 (32/64-bit) and Oracle 11g (compatibility)
  • Power management events supported on Windows GUI applications

For a full list of bug fixes and feature changes, you can look into the readme-file.

As usual, the new version is free to download for existing customers with a current support contract (password required for download), and a free, timely unlimited, full-featured evaluation license can be downloaded by anybody (registration required) interested to play with VA Smalltalk.

If you want to learn more and meet other VA Smalltalk users, you can still register for our free VA Smalltalk Forum Europe 2010 at Stuttgart, Germany on June 8th, where John O’Keefe will give a talk on what’s new and what’s scheduled for upcoming releases of VA Smalltalk. We look forward to meeting you there.

As a consulting and sales partner of Instantiations, we are also happy to answer your questions and help on your projects. We also offer training on Smalltalk in general as well as VA Smalltalk specific. Just give us a call or mail us.

VA Smalltalk Forum 2010: Lukas Renggli on Seaside

At this year’s VA Smalltalk Forum Europe in Stuttgart (Germany) on June 8th, we’ll have Lukas Renggli talking about Seaside:

Seaside does many things differently from what is considered best practice in Web development. This talk will summarize new patterns of Web development and demonstrate why they are beneficial to build highly interactive Web applications quickly, reusably and maintainably. Moreover the presentation will cover the unique integration of Seaside with popular Javascript frameworks, such as jQuery and jQueryUI.

Lukas is one of the core developers of the well-known and respected web application framework Seaside, so there’s probably no better source of information than this one. Lukas will be available for questions, comments, discussion and maybe even some hacking on Seaside.

I know Julian Fitzell is planning to come as well, so you’ll very likely have the chance to meet two of the core Seaside developers…

If you want to come and join us for our free event in Stuttgart, visit our registration page for more details and register.

I hope to see you soon in Stuttgart!

VA Smalltalk Forum Europe 2010: Georg Heeg on the State of Smalltalk

We’ll be holding our third european event for users and friends of VA Smalltalk on June 8th in Stuttgart, Germany.

Georg Heeg, Executive Director of the Smalltalk Industry Council and owner of the well-known Smalltalk consultancy Georg Heeg e.K., will be giving a talk on the State of Smalltalk and its value for the software Industry.

From the abstract:

The primary objective of STIC as a multi-vendor association is to promote the joint goals: “To create and increase awareness of Smalltalk” and “To promote Smalltalk as the superior technology for the construction of information systems.” Georg will provide his view on why Smalltalk is the superior technology and how this can benefit the industry.

Georg’s talks are always entertaining and insightful as well as inspiring. Most of the times he’s talking about interesting projects done in Smalltalk, which you’d never have expected to be implemented in this language.

You see, not coming to Stuttgart in June means missing a lot. If you want to register for this free event, visit our registration page.


Sometimes you have the feeling it would have been better to stay in bed rather than go to work.

One example: If you send a message to a Mailing List, in this case the ESUG mailing list, in which you want to officially invite people to a business event, and somewhere in monday morning’s hectic you totally forget to review the headline of your message and send out a message with a title like this:

Invitation to tha VA Smalltalk Fprum Europe 2010

You sure know this monday is one of a special kind (and maybe it’s not even the weekday I could blame it on).

Maybe I could just say this is Search Engine Optimisation and I wanted to reach all the surfers who are unable to type… 😉