Here we are at 6 PM on Tuesday, and it's time for the STIC event. Bob Nemec has introduced Georg Heeg, the new executive director of the council - you can read Georg's thoughts on this over here, on his blog. Here's his evening summary:
The STIC board is made up members from Cincom, Gemstone, and Instantiations. So - what does STIC do now?
- Organizes Smalltalk Solutions
- Provides Websites
- STIC does some level of user group coordination
STIC has a slightly different mission from user groups: STIC tries to raise the awareness of Smalltalk beyond the Smalltalk community. What are Georg's goals?
Improve awareness and visibility of Smalltalk in the industry
Bear in mind: STIC is a volunteer organization. What you do for STIC you do for Smalltalk in general. So back to Bob Nemec, for what happened over the last year.
A year ago, we had some issues - finances were messy, websites were stagnant or non-existant. The finances are now documented, and there are websites:
We lost stic.org - there were issues with our domain registrar. The new STIC site can take payments for individual members. Upstairs, there's a Squeak booth (set up with the help of Chris Cunnington, a complete Smalltalk newbie). Which points the way to the future: STIC can help mostly by getting help from the Smalltalk community :)
Next, a few words from each board member - my thoughts are all over my blog all the time, so no need to repeat them here :) Ed Klimas (Instantiations) spoke about the actual cost (in terms of function points) of converting an application from Smalltalk to something else (and, as I've said here before, such conversions are rarely justified, regardless of which languages and directions are involved). Ed has data behind that point, that come from a variety of sources - Steve McConnell and Capers Jones being two of them.
So using that, given a 3000 function point system, Smalltalk will take 50-60 person months, while Java will take 300 person months. The dollar cost differential there is obvious. At a micro level, Java will give you numbers on the order of 20 function points per man month, even for high end developers. Smalltalk can crank you as high as 100. Ed has discussed these numbers directly with Capers Jones, and he wasn't surprised. Moreover, Java and .NET developers aren't cheaper than Smalltalkers anymore :)
Crunching Ed's numbers, for a new application, Smalltalk will be 2x to 3x cheaper in terms of $$. What about conversion? Bear in mind that testing now consumes half of the development schedule - and in a conversion, testing is going to be a very big piece. Now we get to errors per function point:
- Smalltalk: 0.14 per function point
- Java: 0.50 per function point
Note how much "static typing" helps :) Further, Eiffel on that list was at 0.21 per function point (Haskell was at 0.18). So much for that. So: an experienced developer injects 100+ defects per KLOC. Only half will be found by a compiler - so in a typical conversion - you end up with more code (and thus, more errors). Which gets back to something I've said: a conversion forces you to stand still (feature-wise) for the duration of your conversion, and it adds errors you don't have now. Bottom line: Converting from Smalltalk to X (whatever X is) makes no economic sense. The slides will be available on the Instantiations site shortly.
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