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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: November Edition

Smalltalk Digest

Welcome to the November 2020 edition of the Cincom Smalltalk™ Digest. While next month will be our famous, “Year in Review” edition, this month’s valuable newsletter focuses on the following:

CUSTOMERS and PARTNERS

  • Practical Ideas for Spending “Use It or Lose It” Budget in 2020
  • Communication Is Key for Our Customers and Partners

BEGINNERS, FREELANCERS and DEVELOPERS

  • Is ARM Displacing X86? Is History Repeating Itself?
  • Performance Pattern of SPY and Its Significance to Market Behavior Leads to New Screencast
  • A Deep Dive into the Hidden Gems Screencast Series
  • Are You Ready to Try Cincom Smalltalk?
  • Where Is Cincom Smalltalk Being Used Academically?
  • FAQ: How Can I Find Tutorials and Other Guidance for Using Cincom Smalltalk?
  • Have You Joined Our Social Media Community?

CUSTOMERS and PARTNERS

Practical Ideas for Spending “Use It or Lose It” Budget in 2020

Whew!  It’s almost over.  This unprecedented year of 2020 may never see a rival in our lifetimes.  However, as we discussed in last month’s Cincom Smalltalk Digest, not everything that’s come out of the pandemic has been bad. One surprising thing that companies may be experiencing is a surplus in “use it or lose it” budget. With “work from home” orders given around the world and more companies shifting to an online workplace, there has been a decrease in spending, which has produced some cost savings for a lot of companies.  Why not use those savings for something that could benefit you and jumpstart good things for your company in 2021?

Adam Beck, Director of Marketing at CADENAS PARTsolutions, encourages companies to:

“Invest in your people. ‘Tis the season for thankfulness, generosity and giving. Your team supports you year round. Show them they’re appreciated with some small tokens of gratitude. If your company permits it and you can shuffle some miscellaneous expense dollars around, get creative and pass out movie tickets, gift cards or bottles of wine to your team. It will go a long way and be money well spent.”

The end of the year can be stressful for many families as they plan for the holidays, but for business owners, it’s even more stressful trying to close deals and plan for the following year. Adam goes on to talk more specifically about investments companies can make at the end of the year that can be used for delivery at a later date.  In fact, listen to what Adam suggests:

“… Look for opportunities to spend your extra budget on services that you can utilize when things free up. Think about it as a sort of layaway for the future. … One of my favorite ‘Layaway’ spend items is banking a little maintenance time with my various providers. This way I have already budgeted the funds if I need help. … I can bank some hours with vendors now for future use, so there’s no need to scramble to find the funds when I need them the most.”

As a Cincom Smalltalk customer or partner, we want to introduce several ways that you can create a “layaway” with us—wisely investing in the success of your company or application, while planning for the future. Consider this to be similar to an insurance plan. If something happens to your application and you want a proof of concept or need a specialized fix, you’ve already paid for that access and can pull from it without having to go through a new approval and justification process.

For some ideas, this “layaway” can be used for things like:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 that uses your data and meets your business goals will provide that last element of confirmation.

Suzanne Fortman, the Cincom Smalltalk Program Director and Engineering Manager, recently discussed this valuable topic fresh from a customer meeting. Watch Suzanne’s interview here.

Communication Is Key for Our Customers and Partners

We never want to assume that our customers and partners automatically know where to find what they need. It’s easy for companies to tell their customers to simply “go to our website” to find something. After having real conversations with our customers and partners, we understand that we need to take it one step further. Instead of telling our customers and partners to just go to our website, we created a helpful “Resources” page that has unique links and descriptions for things they would be looking for. 

On this useful page, customers and partners can easily see how to upgrade their products to the current release of Cincom Smalltalk Version 9, promote customer and partner offerings for resale and add value for their companies. They can also find customer and developer programs and services, videos, tutorials and places to subscribe to helpful periodicals like the Cincom Smalltalk Resolutions newsletter.

Have you tried to locate something on our website and found it to be difficult to find?  Let us know how we can make it easier for you by contacting us here.

Customers and Partners, We Are Listening

Listening is one of the greatest components of effective communication. Maybe what we share each month in this newsletter is not enough, or you would like to see different information. We are here to listen! As a customer or partner, do you have any feedback for our team? Is there some content or information you would like to see on our website, on our social platforms or in our newsletters and periodicals?

Please send your comments or suggestions to the Cincom Smalltalk Product Team at CSSTARTeam@cincom.com

BEGINNERS, FREELANCERS and DEVELOPERS

Is ARM Displacing X86? Is History Repeating Itself?

Notes from Arden Thomas, the Cincom Smalltalk Product Manager (originally written late June 2020):

Decades ago, “real” work was done on workstations, a marked step up in power at the time, from common x86-based PCs.

SparcStations, SiliconGraphics (SGI) machines, Apollo, HP PA-Risc machines, etc. once ruled the roost.

Meanwhile, a “paranoid” Intel (“Only the paranoid survive” was Andy Groves’ mantra) made steady improvements every year.  The writing was on the wall—lower cost but increasing in power x86 computers would gradually start replacing and overtaking the workstation market. It did.

For a while, it seemed like a RISC (reduced instruction set computer) vs. CISC (complex instruction set computer) battle, but I think it was the heavy investment for market share that made the real difference. Intel was relentless in its effort to improve and compete.

Years ago, a friend from college went to work for a California company called 3DO in the early 90’s.  The 3DO hardware used a custom ARM RISC chip, which was the first time I became aware of the “Acorn RISC Machine” (ARM).  Arm Holdings, the company, was different in that they licensed CPU designs to customers and did not fabricate their designs (“fabless”—fabs are a massive investment).

AMD has challenged the Intel dominance—first in the aughts and then again in recent times.  AMD is currently a big challenge to Intel, with better price-to-performance CPUs and massive multi-core chips. (You can buy an AMD CPU with 64 cores right now!)

Update:  AMD announced its Zen3 chips in late October 2020 and started delivering them on November 6th.  For the first time ever, AMD chips outperform Intel chips in single-core performance.  It also has offerings with higher core counts.

Almost two decades later, ARM chips, often highly customized, became the staple of mobile devices like the iPhone and Android-based phones.  These devices are prolific, so there are large investments to continually improve the fabrication process, which was a large factor in Intel’s success.  Intel was once ahead one to two generations of processing nodes, but today trails TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company).  A node is a manufacturing process level, and improved nodes make denser semiconductor chips with closer features, usually measured in nanometers (i.e., a 10nm process node).  (A sheet of paper is around 100,000 nanometers thick.)

Apple uses TSMC for the fabrication of iPhone and iPad processors.

A famous quote: “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” (Attributed to Mark Twain)

A rhyme may well be underway.  ARM chips, getting more powerful, capable and abundant with cores, are perhaps poised to do to the x86 market (Intel/AMD) what the x86 market did to the workstation market a few decades back.

Many of you heard Apple’s announcement at the Apple WWDC on June 22, 2020, that Apple is beginning the transition of Macs to ARM processors.  This has been rumored for years, and no doubt, Apple has had (internally) ARM versions of every OSX/MacOS release for years.  Apple did the exact same thing prior to transitioning from PowerPC chips to Intel chips 15 years ago. 

I expect the ARMs to be successful in slim MacBooks first, where light weight and battery efficiency are important, and then move up the chain as successive generations become more powerful.  

Update:  Apple announced its new M1 ARM chip in early November 2020.  It will be used in MacBooks and Mac minis, and boasts (surprisingly) competitive performance. The M1, with 4 low-power and 4 high-power cores, will likely have lower power usage compared to the AMD and Intel counterparts.  If the claims are true, Apple has made faster than expected improvements for ARM competing with x86.

Microsoft has been experimenting with ARM for years as well.  A decade ago, we had “Windows Embedded” (Windows 7 on ARM). Today we have Windows 10 ARM and a recent MS Surface Pro X, which is ARM-based.  Reviews are mixed, but it might possibly be an “OK, but can only get better” type of scenario.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you think about this?  What has been your experience over the years with changes? What about ARM? What moves will you make? Contact the Cincom Smalltalk Product Team and let us know.

Performance Pattern of SPY and Its Significance to Market Behavior Leads to New Screencast

In a recent edition of Quantifiable Edges, Rob Hanna discusses the significance of market behavior after SPY closes in the bottom 25% for four days in a row.

For those of you who are not familiar with the term SPY, it is a ticker symbol for a Standard & Poor’s 500 exchange-traded fund (EFT).

According to Rob Hanna, a full-time market professional since 2001, president of Hanna Capital Management, LLC and founder of Quantifiable Edges, the performance, which has been persistently weak in the afternoon, could be a sign that this recent afternoon selling could be setting SPY up to bounce, which is what happens when a stock hits an old high, a moving average, a trend line, or a combination of these. As a result, the stock moves significantly upward: https://t.co/F4fgKNrSU7

Click here to learn more, including an explanation of how to re-create this information in just a few lines of code.

Quantitative Gems Screencast

Have you seen the Quantitative Gems? This new series of screencasts is an introduction to Quantitative Analysis (QA)—a technique that uses mathematical and statistical modeling, measurement and research to understand behavior. The screencasts include guided examples of how to do Quantitative Analysis as well as creating charts and indicators in Cincom Smalltalk. This series will also walk you through how to build algorithms and interactive charts. The code scripts can be run in our Windows-centric ObjectStudio product or our cross-platform VisualWorks product. The code is almost identical for both, and we walk you through exactly how to do it in either (or both!).

With the holidays coming up, it’s a perfect time to binge this screencast series.  Learn more and watch them here.

A Deep Dive into the Hidden Gems Screencast Series

Long-time readers of the Cincom Smalltalk Digest are well aware of the Hidden Gems screencast series.  Those who are just beginning their journeys with Smalltalk or Cincom Smalltalk may not know what this series is and how it can be helpful to their developer path. Let’s take a deeper dive into what these instructional tutorial videos are all about.

Arden Thomas started the Hidden Gems screencast series to share shortcuts, tips and techniques that might make it easier for others to use or jumpstart their Cincom Smalltalk usage. In these screencasts, Arden shares how he uses various components of Cincom Smalltalk, as well as features that he uses for his own productivity that he considers “hidden gems.” You can hear more details directly from Arden in this Introduction to Hidden Gems. Additionally, Suzanne Fortman shares her thoughts on the impact of these videos in “What Are the Benefits of Hidden Gems?

This screencast series is a growing list of valuable nuggets that Arden has compiled over several years. At the time of this writing, the list numbers over 60, with more in the production pipeline for 2021. Just looking at a long list of videos may get confusing and overwhelming, so we’ve divided the series into the following manageable and understandable subcategories to make it easier for you to view:

  • Tools Series
    The Tools series explores some tools and product features that developers should find useful. 
  • Techniques Series
    The Technique series shows various techniques of how to accomplish or solve different tasks, from automating image build to creating a custom parser. 
  • ValueModel Series
    The ValueModel series shows the principles, capabilities and use of the powerful ValueModel framework.
  • DomainMaster Series
    The DomainMaster series introduces an application framework that leverages the principles of the ValueModel to make application development easier, faster, capable and reliable.  
  • Persistence Series
    The Persistence Series shows multiple techniques of how to save and load objects to disk, where using a full database might be overkill or unwieldy.
  • Collections Series
    The Collection series shows some lesser-known collections that may be beneficial for your collections toolbox. 

Are You Ready to Try Cincom Smalltalk?

We continue to see surges in our Personal Use License downloads as well as developers who are eager to jump on board a partnership with Cincom through our online licensing program.  We want you to know about those same opportunities, as well as a special holiday deal:

Try Cincom Smalltalk ─ The Personal Use License is ideal for developers who are looking to sharpen their skills by adding new tools to their “developer toolbox.” With Cincom being a leading provider of commercial Smalltalk, the PUL also presents an opportunity for existing Smalltalkers to build their businesses and partner with a global commercial company. Regardless of the reason, the PUL allows the freedom for users to evaluate our products before realizing that Cincom Smalltalk is the right fit for their business or project needs. 

Listen as Suzanne Fortman discusses the value you can create using Cincom Smalltalk here.

  • Curious?  Click here to start exploring Cincom Smalltalk and all that it can do for you.

Buy Cincom Smalltalk ─ The PUL program has been very successful over the years. During that time, we’ve often been asked for an option between the PUL and full product licensing. Tom Nies, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Cincom Systems, Inc., challenged the Cincom Smalltalk Product Team to come up with an offering that would answer this request, and our team delivered the REV Program.

The REV program is a bridge between the free evaluation of the PUL and full licensing. It allows for easy entry into the Cincom platform, providing both the full product (the current release of Cincom Smalltalk Version 9) and full support for a 1-year/12-month time period. REV Program participants also have access to Cincom marketing and branding through the Cincom Smalltalk Partner Promotion Program that can help with the kickoff of the application or business.

We’ve seen many REV members successfully move from the REV Program to full licensing even before their 12-month cycle is complete. Listen as Suzanne discusses the REV Program and the benefits a user receives by becoming a partner with Cincom here.

UPDATE: We launched the REV Program with introductory pricing of $500, and it exceeded our expectations! Now the program is at the regular, full price of $1,000.

Exclusively for Digest readers, we are offering a 25% discount off the full price of the REV Program. It’s our way to give back during this unique holiday season. Want this deal? Email the Cincom Smalltalk Product Team to get your holiday coupon worth $250.

Where Is Cincom Smalltalk Being Used Academically?

Periodically, we highlight details about the Cincom Smalltalk Academic Program. The goal of this program is to:

  • Increase the quality of the available system design and engineering training,
  • Provide higher-quality engineers and developers to the industry and users, and
  • Expand the Smalltalk community.

The education community recognizes Smalltalk as a superior language for teaching students about high-quality systems and object development.

How the Academic PUL Program Works

Students and faculty who wish to participate in this program must first start by downloading the Academic Personal Use License (APUL) version of Cincom Smalltalk. The APUL is the current Cincom Smalltalk PUL release made available for students to use for educational purposes only (i.e., for a course). To obtain it, an academic user must request the APUL from our website here. Of note, maintenance releases of Cincom Smalltalk are not available in the APUL Program, nor is Cincom Smalltalk Version 9 currently.

There are over 120 academic institutions in 37 different countries across six continents that are using Cincom Smalltalk to teach programming. Is your school on the list?  Do you know of others that should be? Reach out to the Cincom Smalltalk Product Team with other institutions not listed, but should be represented.

FAQ: How Can I Find Tutorials and Other Guidance for Using Cincom Smalltalk?

Having the greatest products in the world doesn’t mean much unless users can utilize them.  Those who are just starting their journeys in Smalltalk and Cincom Smalltalk may not know where to turn next or even how to get started. Because these questions and others like them are frequently asked by new journey-takers, we thought we’d list our response:

  1. You can find a large selection of tutorials, covering Common Tools, Cincom ObjectStudio and Cincom VisualWorks here: https://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/main/community/resources/smalltalk-product-tutorials/
  2. You can also find the popular Hidden Gems Screencast (discussed more in-depth above) produced by Arden Thomas here: https://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/main/community/resources/videos/
  3. You can find the newly released Quantitative Gems Screencast series here: https://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/main/solutions/quant/
  4. You can watch past presentations here: https://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/main/community/resources/presentations/
  5. You can access books and other periodicals here: https://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/main/community/resources/books-and-media/

For additional frequently asked questions, visit our FAQs section where we answer “How do I…?” and other questions here.

Have You Joined Our Social Media Community?

In this month’s Digest, we’ve shared many links that are available for customers, partners and users to find information and resources on our website. What about social media? Have you ever used social media to get information about programming, development, Smalltalk or Cincom Smalltalk?

We have a growing, active community on several social sites:

  • Cincom Smalltalk YouTube – If you are looking for a more visual experience, YouTube is the place to browse hundreds of Cincom Smalltalk videos, organized into nearly 30 unique playlists that help you find the topic you are looking for.
  • Cincom Smalltalk Twitter – Here’s a chance to like, retweet or give comments in our Twittersphere. On Twitter, we share a variety of information including user stories, product information, updates, product tutorials, programs and links to the Hidden and Quantitative Gems screencasts. Along with our main Twitter account, there are also several Cincom Smalltalk team members who are active on Twitter, contributing and engaging with customers, partners, users and curious onlookers.
  • Cincom Smalltalk Facebook – If Facebook is more your speed, we post user stories, product information and updates, and a wide variety of videos, including customer, partner and user program highlights, product tutorials and Hidden and Quantitative Gems screencasts.