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Smalltalk for Dummies

This recent message on the Squeak list nails, IMO, why the world needs a Smalltalk for Dummies and where it should start.

These guys want to pick up the book, write Hello, world, and go from there. See especially the second paragraph.

Dolphin would be ideal as a companion language for such a book.

Donald MacQueen

On Thu, Feb 10, 2000 at 10:14:47AM +0100, Giovanni Giorgi wrote:
> Excuse me,
>     I'd like to have your opinion about a my small idea...
> I think a book for learning Smalltalk from a C-language background would
> help a lot the diffusion of
> smalltalk way-of-thinking.

In my opinion, this is a very good idea. I have a C (etc) background, and I found it very difficult to learn Smalltalk. I kept getting frustrated by simple things, and I would give up and set Smalltalk aside. In the end, it was many years before I got over the initial frustrations and really started to learn. I am not trying to brag about how stupid I am, just to say that I think that many people with backgrounds in C get frustrated with their first exposure to Smalltalk, and most probably give up forever.

C programmers expect to be able to write a "Hello World" right away, and to be able to do simple things like read and write files. It is completely pointless to try to convince someone that Smalltalk is wonderful when they can't even figure out how to do a "Hello world." They just end up feeling stupid and frustrated.

So I think that a short book, possibly organized similarly to the original K&R C book, would be a wonderful thing. It should not talk down to the reader or try to convice how easy it is to learn Smalltalk, just tell her or him directly how to do things. It is really enfuriating to learn from a book that seems to suggest that any half-witted child could figure this stuff out in a day or two. Therefore, the tone should be direct and to the point, and should show how to do familiar things in the strange Smalltalk environment.


There is this book Smalltalk in Brief which uses Smalltalk to teach OO programming. It can be used as an entry level Smalltalk book. It uses some kind of Java/C-like pseudo language with the Smalltalk equivalents in parallel. I ordered the book, but didn't receive it yet, so I can not give a real review yet.

Sander Tichelaar

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