Visual Smalltalk

Visual Smalltalk Enterprise

Visual Smalltalk Enterprise (VSE) is a Smalltalk dialect that runs only on Microsoft Windows, and is the last in a long line of Smalltalk implementations first produced by Digitalk.

VSE is now only available as a special patch version called VSE 2000 available from Cincom, but only if you already have a license for a previous VSE version.

VSE is still quite widely used, though.

History

VSE has had a complicated history which starts with a product called Digitalk Smalltalk/V that ran from a DOS prompt and provided a windowing environment.

  • Smalltalk/V
  • Smalltalk/V 286
  • Smalltalk/V Win
  • Visual Smalltalk Enterprise (VSE)

In reality, before Smalltak/V, there was a product, the first one from Digitalk, named Methods. The windowing interface was not graphically based - instead it drew its windows using special symbols stored in a character format. Further, it predated the use of a mouse to drive the interface.

There are also been versions of Smalltalk/V for the MAC and for the OS/2 operating systems. A version for OS/2 was also available for VSE.

PARTS Workbench

Visual Smalltalk Enterprise usually comes with another sub-system called the PARTS Workbench. This system allows the layout of components which can then be connected using a visual representation of event-message links. The programmer can add scripts to particular components and build nested-components. (The programmer can also enhance the functionality of the main VSE Smalltalk system and utilize that within the PARTS Workbench.)

Although the PARTS Workbench allows very easy development of small systems (somewhat after the style of Visual Basic) it is argued that it encourages fragmentary development. The natural style of using this system tends to lead to lots of links and scripts - it is not based around the idea of 'model' (as used in 'Model View Controller' approaches common in many Smalltalks as well as in other languages). However, as an 'HCI' for programmers the PARTS Workbench has a lot of features that are (sadly) not found in modern Smalltalks - it has an immediacy that makes it very good for introductory teaching and for the rapid implementation of applications with visual interfaces.

Copyrights and Licensing

A result of the complicated history is that the copyright and licensing situation is unclear. A typical recent VSE development environment is made up of many elements many of which were developed by third parties and sold separately but are now included with the distribution.

The situation with the most recent release (VSE 2000) is:

Element Copyright Holder License
Virtual machine Seagull Seagull owns VSE. Cincom has the right to sell it and provide support.
Base Classes Unknown Unknown
ObjectShare Classes Cincom Includeds WindowBuilder, various WidgetKits, GF/ST, etc. As such, Cincom can (almost?) do anything it wants with those products (keeping mind the OEM DLL issues affecting two of the WidgetKits).
Profile/V Kent Beck Open Source, under the CPL 1.0 license (Though donations are appreciated). A performance profiler. Not actually part of the VSE distribution.

People

An impartial list of people that worked at Digitalk/ParcPlace on VSE:

Person Comments
George Bosworth Inventor of Ephemerons. Worked later on the garbage collector in the Microsoft .Net.
Allen Wirfs-Brock Chief scientist at Digitalk-ParcPlace. Currently works for Microsoft.
Eric Clayberg Creator of WindowBuilder toolkit. Vice President of Development at Digitalk-ParcPlace. Currently Vice President of Product Development at Instantiations
Stephan B. Wessels Digitalk Professional Services, frameworks development. ,
Suzanne Fortman Digitalk Marketing. Came back to Cincom as Marketing Manager.
Gary Gregory Worked on VSE, PARTS, the VM and database interfaces. Now works at Seagull Software
Dan Rubel Worked on Subpanes/V. Is CTO of Instantiations
Roxie Rochat Worked on Subpanes/V. Now works for Stoaks Software.
Bart Weller Worked on Subpanes/V.
Ken Cooper Worked on Subpanes/V. Got hired by Microsoft in 1997.
Ted Peters Worked on Subpanes/V. Also got hired by Microsoft in 1997.
Mike Taylor Was Vice President of Professional Services at Digitalk. Now he is CEO and president of Instantiations.
Tim Rowledge Worked on a lot of Smalltalk Stuff at ParcPlace Systems Inc. Now works on Squeak.

External links

References

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