[Pharo-users] Retina support in Pharo

J.F. Rick self at je77.com
Wed May 18 09:39:41 EDT 2016

My guess is that retina support through Athens rendering and 64-bit are
critical to greater adoption of Pharo for several reasons:
(1) First impressions matter greatly. If I try to get someone into Pharo
and the first thing they see is a pixelated screen, they will have an
immediate bad reaction. My students believed that Pharo was a toy language
because of the pixelated rendering. Even when I explained why, I'm not sure
they believed me (sure, prof, we believe you). The interface being slow
also gives the impression that the entire system is slow. So, speed
improvements from Spur are less tangible. For most newcomers, interface
speed = system speed.
(2) One of the first things newcomers will want to do with a new system is
some sort of graphical user interface. Pharo's morphic is quite nice but
the BitBlt rendering is off putting. So, even if newcomers buy that there
are reasons for the rendering being not great, they will likely conclude
that it isn't a system for them.
(3) The vast majority of OSes are 64-bit and 32-bit packages are getting
deprecated. So, even if there are nice ways to interface with the outside
world, they are being held back. So, very small things, like sound on
Ubuntu, don't work. It's not really worth fixing that until Pharo is
64-bit. Again, it looks like Pharo is behind the curve, rather than ahead
of it.

Now, that stated, I understand why things are the way they are. There are
limited resources and there are things that take priority. In addition,
there is the tension between Pharo as an engine for research ideas (roughly
equates to the things where Pharo is ahead of the curve) and Pharo as a
general purpose environment (most notable in places where Pharo is behind
the curve).

Pharo5 is a major accomplishment and I am excited by it. It is awesome what
was accomplished. I have faith in the leadership in setting priorities and
great appreciation for those putting in the time. My point in posting this
is not to criticize past development or priorities but just to make the
case that these two things on the horizon (retina support, 64-bit) are
important to my use of Pharo and how newcomers will view the system. I wish
I could contribute but the VM things are out of my zone of competence.


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