[aida] Aida comprehensive documentation: a newbie experience

Janko Mivšek janko.mivsek at eranova.si
Sun Jul 24 21:31:00 CEST 2011

Hi Offray,

Welcome to the list and thanks a lot for your thoughts, that's what we
need and this is what give us encouragement to be better and better!

About documentation: yes, that is major Aida weakness and I don't know
exactly how to solve it. I'm simply better in thinking and coding, not
in writing, so any help here is really appreciated. We will soon have a
ToDo example, which shows all that bleeding edge Aida features for
building so called Single page (SP) applications, as an addition to
traditional web apps shown in current tutorial.

Support for a combination of traditional and SP apps will put Aida on
the web frontiers, just that without documentation no-one will know
that. Yes, you are very right, lack of docs is also a reason for a lack
of visibility of what all Aida is capable.

About Smalltalk knowledge for newbie: is Seaside HPI tutorial good even
for a complete non-Smalltalker? How they achieved that, AFAIK they don't
learn Smalltalk basics in this tutorial?

About our web frameworks to form a strong front and compete with others,
yes, this is a very stated goal and specially with Jtalk work by Nicolas
Petton for client-side web apps we can actually "penetrate" to outside
word more deeper. JavaScript is a king on client-side but it was not
designed for programming at large, while Smalltalk is. We have therefore
a chance here and both Aida and Iliad have plans/working intensively on
that area.

About persistence: you probably already noticed that Smalltalkers tend
to avoid RDBses as much as possible. One reason is that image itself is
kind of a database and image based pesistence works surprisingly well
for small to middle sized projects. And for larger we have a Gemstone
with which we can scale up to the sky :) It is true that it is not open
source, but this actually don't count much in otherwise small Smalltalk
community. And free GS version is more than enough for a quite large

So, ok, let me finish too for now and rather publish a ToDo example
ASAP, so that we will have a foundation for some more docs .. :)

Thanks again and keep posting more!


S, Offray Vladimir Luna Cárdenas piše:
> 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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> Aida na aidaweb.si
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Janko Mivšek
Smalltalk Web Application Server

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