The other day, at our user group meeting, question that came up (more or less in the vein of asking how healthy the Smalltalk market is and whether I'm crazy for not just getting a real job) was how many Smalltalk developers there were. Specifically, are there 100,000 Smalltalk developers out there?
And I have absolutely no idea. I know there are at least 10, because I've met them in the last week or two. I'm pretty sure there are less than 10 million, because that's what Microsoft apparently claims for VB, and there have got to be a lot less Smalltalkers than that. I expect that Microsoft's accounting there is a little off, in that it probably counts people who are rather marginal as VB programmers - e.g. me. Still, it's some kind of a number.
So how do you count something like that? To make it easier, let's restrict it to Cincom Smalltalk users. You can't count VisualWorks developer licenses, because Cincom doesn't sell things that way. And even if it did, you'd be leaving out NC users. And Cincom probably wouldn't publish those kind of numbers if they had them. And that's just trying to count VisualWorks. Other dialects have their own distribution mechanisms, and lots of them don't count their users. Squeak, GNU Smalltalk, Smalltalk/X, #Smalltalk - they're all free downloads, and I think there's a lot of users out there. So I just have no idea how to calculate something like that, even as a wild-guess estimate.
So here's what I'm proposing. All Smalltalkers everywhere should send me an e-mail, and I'll count them.
I'M JUST KIDDING
... but does anyone have a better idea?