30% of the worldwide market
of shipping containers is controlled by Smalltalk systems.

Stéphane Ducasse, Director of Research INRIA Lille

Smalltalk Digest: October Edition

Posted on in Categories Smalltalk Digest Archive

Smalltalk DigestWelcome to the October 2018 edition of the Cincom Smalltalk™ Digest.  In this edition, we will discuss fiscally responsible ways to use year-end budget and how custom Services solutions may be a good fit for customers. We will also feature two new Hidden Gems screencasts as well as a preview for upcoming talks by Cincomers.

Ways to Be Fiscally Responsible when Spending “Use It or Lose It” Budget for 2018

Julie Windsor of Talentia Software UK recently discussed the budget reform that’s happening around the globe. Over the past several years, budget reform has impacted many companies as business leaders seek to minimize or eliminate the wasteful spending done at the end of the budget year.  This term has been coined in government circles as “March Madness:”

“Governmental departments are renowned for their ‘March madness’ fervour – where annual cash allocation is spent in full during the financial year, normally towards the end, in case future funding is reduced. … A report by Jeffrey B. Liebman and Neale Mahoney found that end-of-year spending is generally of a lower quality. The two researchers were able to demonstrate that the rush to get projects over the line before the end of the financial period will frequently result in a drop in standards.” 

– 
Julie Windsor, Managing Director at Talentia Software UK 

Whether or not you work for a government agency, spending your budget in a fiscally responsible way is something every company’s leadership wants to see. But, how do you balance your budget needs, be responsible in your spending, yet ensure that you have flexible spending for the following year?

As a Cincom Smalltalk partner or customer, there are several ways in which you can wisely spend that budget while improving the value and profitability of your company or application:

  • Product Upgrades
    Don’t risk a critical upgrade to a learn-as-you-go, in-house approach. Our senior consultants know the small, impossible-to-document steps that make the difference between an unresolved task and a completed process.
  • Mentoring
    It’s easy to learn the basics of installing and using Cincom Smalltalk. But the most productive use is best achieved through customized mentoring for your experience level, developed to meet your needs.
  • Troubleshooting
    Whether it’s identifying and resolving a processing glitch or improving a performance drag, we have experts who can work with you remotely and/or on-site to re-create the problem and then provide an alternative viable approach.
  • Performance Enhancement
    A performance-enhancement service reveals how a team is using Cincom Smalltalk, which aspects of the tool they are not using and how they could energize so many more existing capabilities.
  • Migrations
    Cincom Services can move your application suite to the most productive Cincom Smalltalk programming environment, giving you fully scalable, web-based and client-server development enhancements.
  • Proof of Concept
    Not sure if Cincom® ObjectStudio® or Cincom® VisualWorks® is the tool you need? An on-site proof of concept using your data and meeting your business goals will provide that last element of confirmation.

But what about a custom solution for your development team?

We know that your team is unique to you, and each group has their own set of challenges.  Suzanne also shared a few customized solutions she suggested to customers after listening sessions at Cincom World Headquarters.  You can watch them both here:

  • If you have questions or want to discuss your own custom solution, contact the Cincom Smalltalk Product Team here: CSSTARTeam@cincom.com.

Insurance Giant Desjardins Saves $10 Million with Cincom VisualWorks Upgrade

As part of a $1.4 billion organizationDesjardins General Insurance Group (DGIG) has been in business for over 60 years and has over four thousand employees serving 1.6 million customers in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. They have one of the highest customer-service ratings in the industry, so naturally, they wanted to ensure their competitive edge. Desjardins has been using Smalltalk since 1998. When their Claims Application needed an upgrade, they called Cincom Professional Services.

Headquartered in the United States, Cincom Systems is an international organization with offices around the world. According to Jacques Maltais, Desjardins Director of Development and Implementation for Claims and Enterprises, “Cincom’s expertise and knowledge of the system were the most important elements of why we contacted Cincom Professional Services to do the upgrade.”

Combining Desjardins’ knowledge of the claims application with Cincom’s knowledge of VisualWorks, the upgrade team was able to quickly and efficiently analyze the upgrade, move the code to the version control system and get the application running correctly on the new version of VisualWorks. Team communication was accomplished by telephone, e-mail and regularly scheduled meetings. According to Charles Brochu, Desjardins Technical Project Leader, “Telephone calls were efficient and pleasant, and any variances were quickly corrected by the Cincom consultant.” 

After the upgrade was complete, Cincom trained Desjardins’ developers on the new version of VisualWorks. “The Cincom consultant was rigorous and efficient in responding to questions, and the training material was well presented,” said Brochu.

By relying on the service-process expertise of Cincom Professional Services, Desjardins was able to focus on the daily tasks of running their business for their customers.  Not only did Desjardins amplify their ROI from the investment in their application suite and gain new functionality, they were able to make this change invisibly to their users. According to Maltais, “By allowing us to keep our current claims application as opposed to purchasing or building a new one ourselves, Cincom saved us at least $10 million.”

“The quality of the work performed was excellent, and the entire experience was great. We would certainly recommend Cincom Professional Services.”

– Rosemarie Mercier, Desjardins Project Leader

Hidden Gems: “A Custom View with Mouse Events”

Contribution by Arden Thomas

The purpose of the Hidden Gems Screencast is to give developers who use Cincom Smalltalk some valuable insight into the useful abilities of the products that may not be obvious. This month’s Hidden Gems will demonstrate the beginnings of a new feature in our ongoing examples. We start to build a “DateAxisApp” application that will show dates and allow us to adjust the range of dates that we are viewing in the Chart applications that we built previously.

The DateAxisApp will demonstrate drawing on a custom view, including how to display centered text.  Additionally, we demonstrate how to react and redraw based on mouse wheel movement, which will help make the work highly reactive and functional.

If you have comments or ideas for future Hidden Gems, please send feedback and suggestions to CSSTARTeam@cincom.com.

Hidden Gems Bonus: “Fonts for Developers”

Contribution by Arden Thomas

We know many developers enjoy tweaking their Cincom Smalltalk tools, like themes and fonts for the source code browser. I look for good visibility in a font for programming, especially at smaller sizes or on a big 4K monitor.

A prior font favorite has been “Bookerly” which is used by Amazon on the kindle and advertised as a font that lets you “read faster with less eyestrain.” Bookerly is a serif font, but most modern, simple, clear fonts for coding are sans serif.

Note that in addition to the font, you may want to tweak or experiment with the relative size as well.  Some fonts may not be installed on your system.  Some you can find here: fonts.google.com.

Here are a few fonts to experiment with:

  • Roboto
  • Roboto Slab
  • Noto Sans
  • Source Sans Pro
  • Montserrat
  • DejaVu Sans

Some veteran fonts deserve consideration too (and some of these are in the product default):

  • Verdana
  • Tahoma
  • Arial

Here is some workspace code to cycle through and see these fonts. Have an editor with a large method visible.

fonts := #( 'Verdana'  'Tahoma'  'Roboto' 'Roboto slab' 'Noto Sans' 'Montserrat'  'Source Sans Pro' 'DejaVu Sans' 'Bookerly') .

fonts do:[:font |  

3 seconds wait.

Transcript cr; show: font.

SourceCodeTheme fontName: font ].

3 seconds wait.

“Restore defaults”

Transcript cr; show: 'Defaults'.

SourceCodeTheme fontName: 'verdana, tahoma, liberation sans, nimbus sans L, helvetica, arial, sans*, *'

My current favorites are Roboto and Noto Sans, with Source Sans Pro of interest too. What is your favorite?

If you have comments or ideas for future Hidden Gems, please send feedback and suggestions to CSSTARTeam@cincom.com.

Smalltalks 2018 Conference Schedule Announced

Smalltalks 2018, the 12th conference on Smalltalk-based technologies, research and industry applications, will be held from October 31 to November 2 at Universidad Nacional de Salta, in Salta, Argentina. And, we’re happy to say that the conference schedule has been announced.

Head to Salta and learn how the community is using Smalltalk to work with games, Android, Blockchain, VMs, web applications and much more!

Also, registration for the social dinner is open and will be held on November 1st at Hotel Salta (Salón de las Esquinas).

The following are the donation options for reserving your exclusive conference t-shirt and your place at the dinner:

You can also donate via Paypal from the conference website. For more options, please check the FAST website.

See all of the day-by-day topics on the conference website.

Join us as we continue to build this great community.  See you in Salta!

If you are unable to attend, follow along with the conference on Twitter through the Cincom Smalltalk and FAST Twitter accounts and the  hastag:

Cincomers to Speak at Upcoming JavaScript Meetup

Like chocolate and peanut butter, Cincom Smalltalk and JavaScript go hand and hand and you have an opportunity to see that for yourself at an upcoming JavaScript Meetup.

On Wednesday, December 5, 2018, Arden Thomas and Vladimir Degen will be giving talks at CharmCityJS. This meetup brings the JavaScript community of Baltimore together on the first Wednesday of each month for talks, hacking and networking. They welcome newcomers of all experience levels, from first-time web programmers to CTOs. The meeting takes place at Oath, 2400 Boston Street Suite 300 Baltimore, MD. 

Here is what Arden and Vlad will be talking about:

Title: Introduction to Smalltalk
Speaker: Arden Thomas
Time: 20 minutes

This talk includes:

  • A brief introduction to Smalltalk and the benefits of knowing where OO languages began
  • The principles of the language and the benefits of a modern Smalltalk implementation
  • How knowing Smalltalk can enhance your skills for any OO language
  • Base for JavaScript tools like AppeX (next up!)

Title: AppeX, a Smalltalk IDE for JavaScript Web Application Development and Deployment
Speaker: Vladimir Degen
Time: 20 minutes
(directly following “Introduction to Smalltalk” by Arden Thomas)

This talk includes:

  • An introduction to the AppeX development environment
  • A simplified way of developing, debugging and managing JavaScript and HTML code (and external libraries)
  • Some fun with automating JavaScript applications for the purpose of functional testing

North American Camp Smalltalks Survey

Organizers of Camp Smalltalk events throughout North America would love your input, so they’ve put together a survey to gather more information from both those who know Smalltalk as well as those who are unfamiliar with this awesome programming language.

If you’re not familiar with Smalltalk, perfect—participate in a few days of conversation, coding and pair programming.  If you know Smalltalk, great—show your project off to event participants. Tell us more about your interoperability experience with other languages, databases, operating systems or devices, containers and cloud providers. The Camp Smalltalk circle is a passionate community that’s looking to share, grow and learn with you!

If you have a current meetup or camp-style event already scheduled and you’d like to see a bunch of Smalltalkers join your event, please add your feedback to the comments section of the survey.

Please share your input so that conference organizers can deliver events you want to attend and bring friends to.

Click here for the survey.

Cincom Smalltalk Stories

Each Thursday, we highlight a different Cincom Smalltalk story on Facebook and Twitter using the trending hashtag #ThursdayThoughts.

Recently, we highlighted:

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for these and other updates throughout the month.

How Can You Benefit from the Cincom Smalltalk REV Program?

For those who are citizen developers who are looking to start a business, one exciting program we have is the Cincom Smalltalk REV Program.  The REV program is an opportunity for YOU to take your hobby to the next level … create your own business.

We created this program for you to become a customer. What does it mean to be a customer?  As a Cincom Smalltalk customer, you receive:

  • The full product
  • Full support for the product
  • An opportunity to join the Developer Program to get early beta releases of our product to see where we are taking it and comment to help us build out the future of commercial Smalltalk
  • An opportunity to join the Partner Promotion Program to promote your application, help you develop the right markets or find the right space to promote what you have been working on

Are You Ready to Take Your Business to the Next Level?

This quick, easy way to partner with us and grow your business is only $500 and is a great investment that could pay big dividends as you grow your business. Plus, this program gives you all the benefits of being a customer with us.

Don’t let another day go by. Let’s grow your business together and take your passion to the next level. Join the REV program today.

Valuable Customer Resources

Our Customer Portal has links to all the important information our partners and customers need.  Here’s a quick guide:

Valuable Product Resources

Here’s a quick guide to the popular resources we have available on our website:

Upcoming Events

Don’t miss out on these valuable opportunities to meet with other developers, learn more skills, grow in knowledge and network with other like-minded individuals:

  • October 31-November 2, 2018 — Smalltalks 2018 (Salta, Argentina)
  • November 4-9 2018  — SPLASH 2018 (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • November 7, 2018 — charmCityJs Meeting   (Baltimore, Maryland) 
  • December 5, 2018 — charmCityJs Meeting  (Baltimore, Maryland)*Arden Thomas and Vladimir Degen will be presenting at this meeting

NOTE: The Smalltalk Community is planning a Camp Smalltalk Series in 2019. We’d love your input! Click here.