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DRAFTS of Squeak, Open Personal Computing and Multimedia

by Mark J. Guzdial and Kimberly M. Rose

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About Book


"Point of view is worth 80 IQ points—and here are many useful points of view about Squeak." — Alan Kay, V-P Research, Walt Disney Imagineering

Book Description

Appropriate for Multimedia courses in Computer Science Departments.

Draws on the Squeak community: the student, the researcher, the multimedia developer, the open source developer, the hobbyist, and the professional, to assemble a compelling vision of programming with Squeak. Squeak is based on Smalltalk-80 and is the only tool that allows users to explore computer music, digital sound, advanced user interfaces, 3-D computer graphics, Flash animation, and virtual machine creation (such as for embedded systems) across Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. This book is an excellent reference.

From the Back Cover

Written by the leading experts in the worldwide Squeak community, this book assembles a compelling vision of what programming can be. Squeak: Open Personal Computing and Multimedia is the only book on Squeak that addresses the advanced features for the student, researcher, multimedia developer, open source developer, hobbyist, and the professional. Developed for Smalltalk, it is for anyone that wants a powerful, cross-platform, and open alternative to the traditional multimedia and exploratory languages.

  • CD-ROM included: Contains the complete Squeak environment, which consists of the version 2.9 virtual image and complete sources, and the virtual machine ports for a wide range of processors and operating systems. Also, numerous tutorials and Squeak applications.
  • Foreword by Alan Kay, Vice President of Research for Walt Disney Imagineering and the vision behind Squeak.
  • THE authoritative guide, to the use of Squeak as a multimedia tool: Provides details on 3-D computer graphics, advanced UI, streaming audio, computer music, and other multimedia topics.
  • Shows how Squeak supports the open source developer, from building and extending cross-platform software, to eXtreme Programming (XP).
  • Illustrates how to use Squeak to create and extend virtual machines for multimedia or embedded systems, such as cable set-top boxes and video game consoles.

About the Author

Mark Guzdial is an Associate Professor with the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research focuses on learning sciences and technology, specifically, "collaborative Dynabooks," which are tools that support learning through collaborative multimedia construction.

Kim Rose is a member of the senior technical staff at Walt Disney Imagineering and part of Alan Kay's Media Research Croup. Kim is a media developer, media critic, and a cognitive scientist. Kim has been part of the "Squeak Central" development team from the time of Squeak's inception in 1996.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Squeak is an open programming language designed especially for personal computing and multimedia. It's certainly the most cross-platform multimedia platform in existence. What's especially interesting is that Squeak is written almost entirely in terms of itself—for example, it is possible to extend Squeak with the speed of native processor primitives without ever writing a line of C code. This book provides a guide to some of the exciting potential of Squeak. It's not a tutorial (though there are some tutorial chapters), but instead, the book offers a path into some of Squeak's unique features:

  • For programmers and others interested in Squeak, this book provides in-depth presentations of some of the most exciting aspects of Squeak, such as Morphic and the internals of Squeak. The final chapters point toward the future of Squeak and where it might be used.
  • For multimedia developers, there are chapters here on a range of the multimedia capabilities available in Squeak, from advanced graphics and networking, through specific applications like computer music and streaming audio.
  • For application developers who want to build on Squeak, the chapters on how to port and extend Squeak explain the process, and several of the chapters point to examples of development on top of Squeak (including examples of applying new development methodologies like eXtreme Programming).
  • For students and others interested in virtual machines (e.g., for embedded systems), the chapters on Squeak's virtual machine (especially Back to the Future and the tour of the object engine), how to port it, and how to extend it provide some of the best writing available yet on an increasingly important technology.

We (the editors and authors of this book) have been living Squeak for some five years now, but for many of you, this book will be your introduction to the wonderful world of Squeak. In another sense, though, if you have used a personal computer in the last twenty years, you have already been introduced to Squeak. Squeak is quite literally the direct descendant of the original Smalltalk work through which the desktop personal computer was invented. The legendary demonstration of Smalltalk to Steve Jobs of Apple Computer by Adele Goldberg and her team at Xerox Pare in 1979 (based on which Apple developed the Lisa and then the Macintosh) was running much of the exact same code that you're running when you run Squeak.

Of course, Squeak has been advanced considerably from that base system, but mostly just in the last five years. The technical story of how Squeak came to be and how it was developed from that original Smalltalk is told in the reprinted chapter Back to the Future in this volume. The challenge posed by that story, though, is made throughout this book.

What if those who developed the desktop personal computer from the original Smalltalk work missed something? The developers of the Apple Macintosh operating system, the Microsoft Windows operating system, and all the other desktop systems didn't start from the actual work at Xerox PARC, but from impressions and demonstrations. What if the fifteen years of the development of the desktop personal computer between 1980 and the start of Squeak went down the wrong path (or at least, didn't go down the right path)?

That's the question that Squeak allows us to ask. Squeak offers us the opportunity to start at the same place as Steve Jobs and others did some twenty years ago, but to explore a different future for personal computers. The researchers at Xerox PARC are hailed for inventing and integrating the windows, icons, menus, and mouse pointer into the "WIMP" desktop user interface that we all know today, but their vision also included:

  • the computer as a meta-medium
  • that's completely personalizable
  • with software that's portable anywhere (from embedded and handheld devices to mainframe computers)
  • and could (and should!) be programmed by "the rest of us."

What would a personal computer be like if those ideas (and the others inherent in the vision of the Dynabook) were integrated at the heart of the desktop interface that we all use, and weren't just add-ons? This book invites you to explore the challenge of an alternate future for personal computers. The chapters of this volume were selected not only to serve as a tutorial and invitation to explore Squeak, but also to pose challenges, opportunities, and intriguing glimpses into a future of personal computing different from that posed by existing systems. Please do accept the challenge, see what Apple and Microsoft saw at the dawn of personal computing, and see what future you and your own vision can make for personal computing.



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