[aida] Aida comprehensive documentation: a newbie experience

Offray Vladimir Luna Cárdenas offray at riseup.net
Sat Jul 23 17:55:24 CEST 2011


Hi all and thanks for Aida.

This will be a long mail talking about my initial lectures as a newbi on 
Aida/Smalltalk and development and what brings me and keeps me here, so 
I hope to stay with me

As a newbie, I have been wondering about using web2py, Seaside or Aida 
for a small project. It seemed for a while, that Aida was the proper way 
to go, but I'm was little worried for the lack of documentation. After 
trying the tutorial, browsing the web and seen presentations I get a 
pair of errors, first one trying to use the One Click Experience with 
the beta version and the second, making the first tutorial in the docs, 
that seems, in some, way oriented to people with more experience with 
Smalltalk instead of total newbies like me.

I'm trying Seaside now, which has a more comprehensive documentation, 
but I plan to be part of Aida Community, because I think that the 
Smalltalk web application frameworks (Aida, Seaside, Iliad), need to 
form a strong front to compete with the offers and awareness outside the 
Smalltalk world (web2py, Plone, Ruby on Rails, etc.). I share the idea 
mentioned in the list about Smalltalk frameworks being for people who is 
opinionated about what web development should be (or software 
development in general), and that are willing to learn Smalltalk and 
this is my case. As I said, I will like to help, as a newbie, to show 
what brings me here and what I'm learning, so this could help other 
newbies, and community in making newbies enculturation more appealing 
and fluid.

The first thing is that, being a person who knows about Plone/Zope from 
the end/user point of view, but with a critical perspective of web 
development I want to keep me in a language that was not "web only", 
(like php) and with strong communities in other areas of my interest, 
like scientific computing, and with stronger ubiquity in 
programming/extending a lot of other programs, so python seems a 
language that I want to have in my belt. The thing that I don't like 
about Zope was the complexity and searching for simple and powerful web 
application frameworks made in Python I found web2py which was for long 
time the framework I thought I would use for my first development, even 
considering its similitudes with Smalltalk in the sense of having a 
integrated development environment and the continuity between the 
deployment and the development environments. But it was not. The reason: 
I want to made also a desktop app and web2py was python for the web 
"only", so If I want to make this desktop app I will need still learn 
something like PyQt and dealing with porting/support to different 
environments, as I have witness myself in the case of PyQt for mac, and 
still dealing in the web development with some issues about different 
mental models: objects in python, tables in databases and template 
languages with their mixing/escapes of/to html and javascript. The One 
Click Experience of Pharo/Squeak and the possibility to deal with 
desktop and web developments inside a single environment with high 
portability and just one click away from my intended users and last but 
not least without dealing with license issues of privative software, was 
what finally convinced me to made all my development on OCE/Pharo.

Then became the decision about Seaside/Aida. I don't like the urls on 
Seaside and being a total newbie, having clean REST url in Aida and the 
familiarity with a MVC model in web2py inclined me to Aida at first, 
but, as I said, making the first tries and not finding comprehensive 
documentation made me go to Seaside willing to solve the ugly url's 
which, by the way, is supported, but is just not the default (because of 
the use of continuations and a stateful philosophy). I can understand 
the difference between communities that let the Seaside people to 
construct detailed documentation (the tutorial[1] and the Seaside Book). 
As you can see they're done by people related to academy, teachers 
and/or doctoral students, so this material is part of their teaching 
practice, while Aida is a smaller community with less academical ties. 
But after almost 15 years of development, Aida is needing desperately a 
comprehensive documentation in the form of a book (the docs here and 
there are worth, but not comprehensive). I think that the model Hasso 
Planner Institut at [1] is the model to follow for this first attempt of 
comprehensive documentation directed to newbies, familiar with object 
oriented concepts, but not with a strong background in Smalltalk. I 
understand that this work is under a creative commons non-commercial 
non-derivatives license, but I think that talking with the authors would 
let them to relicense it under a more liberal one (may be creative 
commons non-commercial share alike, or a CC-SA) so this book can be the 
base for the Aida Book in the same way that happened with Squeak by 
Example book as a base for the Pharo by Example book. I also have my 
comments about the ToDo application as a first application in the 
tutorial, but they will be for another mail (this is getting too long 
now ;-) )

[1] http://www.hpi.uni-potsdam.de/hirschfeld/seaside/tutorial

As I said I will be learning Seaside first, using their comprehensive 
documentation, but I think that Smalltalk frameworks need to be in a 
continuous cross-pollination or even integration to offer strong 
competence and appealing for the people outside Smalltalk and I hope 
that this mail could help modestly in that direction.

Cheers,

Offray


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