That was fun

Posted by Piers Cawley on Apr 4, 2007

On Monday I was down in Brighton for a Brighton Coding Dojo where I had a crack at doing Kata four in Smalltalk.

It took a while to find the balance, but once we got going I think it went well.

We stuck in what seemed like the strangest places though. At one point, I had a method that did almost exactly what I wanted for a new method I was writing so I called up the method in the browser, changed the selector and the few bits that needed fixing up and accepted the changes.

Uproar! “Wha? What’ve you done to testGetMnT?”

“It’s still there, look.” I said, pulling testGetMnT up in the browser.

“But…!”

People were impressed by OmniBrowser’s refactoring tools and slightly boggled by the sheer number of instance methods on Object.

Because we dived straight in, people got a wee bit stuck on the syntax as well. Next time I do something like this, I’ll spend more time walking through what’s going on in each line of code, until people get a bit more secure, and I’ll start handing the keyboard off to other pairs way sooner. Once I did that, it became far more apparent which bits were sticking points.

The session certainly confirmed my opinion that you can read all you like about Smalltalk, but you won’t really get it until you see it in motion.

So, once I have some tuits of the appropriate shape, I’m planning on making a longish screencast of me running through Kata four, with commentary. It won’t be an exemplary example of a Smalltalk user getting the very best out of the toolset; I’m very much a beginner myself, but I hope it’ll give you a feel for why you should at least try Smalltalk for yourself. I also hope that any experienced Smalltalkers watching the screencast will be able to give me some tips on better ways of using the tool.