Avi Bryant

Smalltalk's Lessons for Ruby

31 minutes, 14.2mb, recorded 2007-05-18
Avi Bryant

The speakers of Hindi and Urdu can perfectly understand each other without knowing that they're talking in two different languages. Even though the langauges have different backgrounds and scripts, they sound similar. So is the case with Ruby and Smalltalk. The two languages have much in common and, being older, Smalltalk can provide a blueprint for Ruby.

There is an incorrect assumption that because of Ruby's open classes and duck typing it is difficult to make a fast VM for it. Between 1989 to 1991, the Self project was a Smalltalk research initiative aimed at making dynamically typed languages run fast. The team spun off a new startup and the resulting implementation, called Strongtalk, was bought back and adopted by Sun for its Java Virtual Machine (JVM). So that problem has really been solved. Ruby can take a lesson about object persistence from Smalltalk. As William Gibson said, "The future is already here. It is just not evenly distributed." Likewise, the future of Ruby is in Smalltalk as it stands today.

Avi Bryant is a Smalltalk developer, the author of Seaside web application framework and the Dabble DB web-based, user-friendly database. He's also a lead developer on many projects such as Monticello, Smallblog and GOODS client. He's was one of the first participants of RubyConf in 2001 and was actively involved in the Ruby community for some time.

Located in Vancouver, Canada, he works for Smallthought Systems Inc, a company he founded with Andrew Catton. Smallthought Systems provides support, consulting, and product development related to the Seaside web application framework.


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