[Pharo-users] Exploring Pier

Jimmie Houchin jlhouchin at gmail.com
Wed Oct 14 12:29:15 EDT 2015

Hola Offray,

Thanks for the positive reply. I was hoping you wouldn't take anything I 
wrote negatively.

On 10/13/2015 12:20 PM, Offray Vladimir Luna Cárdenas wrote:
> Hi Jimmie,
> On 05/10/15 09:16, Jimmie Houchin wrote:
>> Hello Offray,
>> My apologies for the delay in reply. I have been on holiday.
> No problem. I'm not as proactive as I would like on this community. 
> I'm trying to gain time/knowledge to contribute more, but there are 
> pending answers from me on interesting topics, so thanks for taking 
> your time to answer. I have grouped your answer in two parts: Pharo 
> related and other tools related. More comments below.


>> Thanks for the suggestions. I am pretty much wanting to stick with 
>> Pharo solutions. I want to use and contribute to the Pharo ecosystem.
>> I believe the more we use our own tools and contribute toward the 
>> ecosystem the better our tools and the ecosystem will be. In Pharo I 
>> can possibly offer an occasional bug fix, contribute to documentation 
>> or tests.
> [...]
>> In Pharo I have Pharo/Smalltalk. Even a simple user can often 
>> contribute in simple ways. Even as a simple user of a Pharo tool. I 
>> can submit issues, fix simple issues, improve method or class 
>> comments, etc. As I learn the Pharo tools and ecosystem I continually 
>> improve my ability to take care of myself and also contribute to the 
>> community. I think Pharo is the most user empowering environment I 
>> have found. 
> I agree with you. I share your vision of Smalltalk as the most 
> empowering environment I have used. First time we meet (vía EToys, 
> Scratch, BotsInc) I felt in love, but weren't ready for each other and 
> took almost 10 years and Pharo to bring me back (kind of a bittersweet 
> love story). I'm a simple user, but in this last year after returning 
> back I have made stuff I just thought/dream about in other 
> environments. Still a lot of things to learn and rookie code and 
> practice, but I'm improving faster that in any other environment, 
> despite of having not as much time to practice as I would like. Even 
> prototyping is faster... a lot faster.

I understand your journey. I too have been a part of this community and 
Squeak for a long time. However, between what capabilities Squeak/Pharo 
had and my skill set and project requirements, I have at times had to 
look elsewhere. Some things require the ability to use external 
libraries. This sometimes requires skills which I don't have or the 
current state of FFI/NB isn't friendly for people like me.

But I think over time Pharo is becoming more capable and hopefully at 
some point its interoperability will improve as well.

If you have the skills or can live with the few interoperability issues. 
I haven't found anything that I feel that is as empowering as Pharo.

For me my project requirements have changed and I am no longer requiring 
the use of a proprietary C++/C library.

> I want to help Pharo too, by making it talk better with other/external 
> ways of thinking/practicing computing. For example, after my talk with 
> Serge about IPtyhon/Jupyter and Grafoscopio (my learning project) it 
> was clearer to my that interactive documentation and data 
> visualization was being bridged with objects via scripting (thanks to 
> embedded playground in the document tree). So you can start thinking 
> in a more "emergent way": documents and scripts instead of a hierarchy 
> of objects and messages, and then go from your scripts in documents to 
> more objectual forms as you clear your mind about the problem. This 
> practice/thinking was far away ten years ago for grown ups in Etoys, 
> BotsInc, as also happened with documentation (they happen elsewhere 
> and not inside the image).

I am not sure I understand what you are trying to do here with Jupyter 
and Grafoscopio. I think Jupyter is exceptionally nice if you are doing 
Python. I have used it both with Python and Julia. But I don't see why 
or for what I would use it for if I have a much superior, IMO, live 
environment in Pharo.

Jupyter is a nice option to command line or repl Python. But Pharo 
(Smalltalk's) image environment is so much more than anything offered 
easily anywhere else.

>> And yes, the other solutions do offer that as well as they are open 
>> source. But the bar is much higher. I now have to understand their 
>> ecosystems, languages, and development cultures of a variety of tools.
> [...]
>> Sure I can find lots and lots of other quality tools in other 
>> languages. But each is their own island. And depending on how broadly 
>> I spread the net. Different languages, different cultures, different 
>> licenses, all independent of each other.
> [...]
>> I much prefer the Pharo ecosystem and culture. It is home.
>> I know others who like the other tools, and multiplicity of choice. 
>> And they feel comfortable there.
> I prefer Pharo too. I have felt the "red pill" effect talked several 
> times in the Pharo/Smalltalk culture. You just need to enter the 
> matrix sometimes to awake others :-), which means that you share their 
> reality for a while to teach them you can bend the rules or have super 
> powers after taking the red pill. But you need to enter the matrix to 
> offer them the red pill. My way to enter the matrix and made that 
> offer is via interactive documentation, scripting and data 
> visualization, because this juncture appeals a lot of people beyond 
> programmers (like myself).
> The way I want to use to evade the complexities of other technologies, 
> idiosyncrasies and cultures is try to talk only with the backend 
> (storage formats/schemas) and frontend (these days mostly html). But I 
> want to use what I already have and know to make that bridge. Put 
> Pharo/Smalltalk in the existing practices and technologies in a 
> symbiotic approach (or something like the assimilation of of star 
> trek's cyborgs, until "resistance is futile", to follow with SciFi 
> images :-) ).  I have blogged recently about a specific case for this 
> approach here:
> http://mutabit.com/offray/blog/en/entry/2015-10-06-grav-nikola-both

I understand your journey here. I am also on a similar journey. I want 
at some point to have a web presence and some ability to do some 
interesting things in the cloud. But I also want more control and am not 
interested in many of the mass technologies or services. I am still very 
much exploring and learning. I am not sure of the direction I will go 
and what role Pharo will play.

>> Choice is nice. Pharo is mine.
> :-)+3 to follow Stepharo and Doru.

I love Pharo and it is my first choice. But it will still have to earn 
its place in my technology stack.

So it is nice to have the option of Pharo. And it is still nice to have 
other options should they become desired or required depending on what 
one is trying to do.

The hard thing to do sometimes is to actually fully express what you are 
wanting to do and trying to accomplish. Until that is somewhat done. It 
is really hard to know what is the best way to go. And that is kind of 
where I am at the moment. But Pharo is good at helping you to try stuff 
out and explore your problem domain and hopefully make a better informed 
decision even if Pharo is or is not in that final decision.



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