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Cincom is one of the largest commercial providers of Smalltalk, with twice as many partners and customers than other commercial providers.

Tom Nies

Smalltalk Digest: January Edition

Posted on in Categories Smalltalk Digest Archive

Smalltalk DigestWelcome to the January 2019 edition of the Cincom Smalltalk™ Digest.  In this edition, we will discuss the Citizen Developer Personas, feature a new Hidden Gems screencast and discuss Camp Smalltalk North America.

The Citizen Developer Personas

Several years ago, through a research partnership, we identified a term that we felt identified a large segment of our user base—citizen developer. When we look at the personas of the people who download the Personal Use License versions of Cincom Smalltalk, several types of users stand out to us. Most of them are full-time developers who are looking for tools to help them develop applications quicker and more efficiently. Some are people whose job is not necessarily app dev, but more of a supporting role in IT, Marketing Automation, Quality Assurance, or an area similarly associated with application development. After spending time working within their company and the overall team, they’ve identified a need they feel can be eased through an application they develop on their own to support the product group.  Then there’s always the person who fits somewhere in-between these two—those who are curious about application development and looking for a good place to land.  This wide range of users perfectly illustrates what a citizen developer does. 

There are many of these citizen developers around the world today, capable of offering more value to their employers. As companies are focusing on getting new and keeping existing customers, many business leaders don’t always understand the value of their efforts. Some companies might even consider them to be a liability or “rogue IT” as Forrester suggests“likely to create messes and risks than real business value.”

Forrester says there is a reason for apprehension about apps created by business people, but IT leaders’ attitudes are changing as tools for non-traditional developers improve and their comfort for delivering apps grows. Understanding citizen developers and their place in the fabric of a company means releasing the fear of the bad “old days” of unmanaged and abandoned apps on tools that are now obsolete. However, business leaders need a clear definition of what “citizen development” means. In interviews with over 20 companies that hired developers like this, Forrester found three types of citizen developers that business leaders can hire to increase the capacity of this form of application delivery.

Recently, our team conducted a planning meeting at Cincom corporate headquarters where we reviewed our past marketing campaigns. You might recall that we recently produced a short video about the value someone can create by using Cincom Smalltalk. In this video, Suzanne Fortman, the Program Director and Engineering Manager for Cincom Smalltalk, talked about her favorite story. This story was about the journey two men took to success using Cincom Smalltalk.

This is our citizen developer story.

The cool part about this story is that as we were discussing it, our team began sharing other stories that they have encountered.  For example, we discussed an admin we knew who became a full-time app-developer for their business. We talked about a business developer who was very similar to Suzanne’s favorite story above, developing apps part-time because they were busy in other roles for their day job. We also spoke about a power user who was the rock star hero for his company, building out custom tools for their cloud-based services in the office.

As we compared our notes with the Forrester story, we realized that our shared experiences were very similar to what thousands of others are doing for their companies as citizen developers:

  1. Line-of-business developers: Deliver apps full-time
    These citizen developers create apps full-time for business units big enough to need a full-time developer.
  2. Business developers: Deliver apps part-time
    This type of citizen developer is a business expert first and a developer second. Business developers deliver apps in their spare time.  In fact, their job descriptions rarely include software development. 
  3. Power users: Focus solely on personal and team needs
    These citizen developers are the office “heroes” who aggressively use spreadsheets and databases to speed up tasks, customize email clients and introduce cloud-based tools to help their team. They also build and configure tools for their own use.

To watch Suzanne talk about these stories in more detail, click here or watch below:

Hidden Gems: Filenames

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. 

File handling, specification and reading/writing to files is a frequent task in programming. This Hidden Gems demonstrates some tips and techniques for files and filenames.

This includes:

  • Specifying a file
  • Reading and writing to files
  • Ensuring a directory exists
  • Cross-platform directory specification
  • An example using BOSS

A New Opportunity for Smalltalk Enthusiasts in 2019


The new year brings in new opportunities for Smalltalk enthusiasts in North America.  If you’ve never heard of Camp Smalltalk or have never had the chance to attend one, it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and engage with a passionate community of folks interested in Smalltalk programming. Participants will come together to discuss a variety of interesting topics such as Smalltalk on IOT devices, web frameworks, virtual machine implementations, data processing applications, programming language design and tooling. Camp Smalltalk is an open community that enjoys sharing ideas and listening to new ones … and everyone is welcome!

More information about Camp Smalltalk North America can be found on social media:

Upcoming Events in 2019

How Can Citizen Developers Benefit from the Cincom Smalltalk REV Program?

For those 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.  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: