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

Tom Nies

Get Started

Cincom Smalltalk Digest: March Edition

Smalltalk Digest

Welcome to the March 2021 edition of the Cincom Smalltalk™ Digest. In this month’s valuable newsletter, you will find the following:

CUSTOMERS and PARTNERS

  • What Is the Cincom Discovery Zone?
  • What Is the Cincom Smalltalk Partner Promotion Program?
  • Where Can You Find Cincom Smalltalk Customer and Partner Resources?
  • Why Do We Ask Customers and Partners for Feedback?

BEGINNERS, FREELANCERS and DEVELOPERS

  • Starting from Scratch: What Is Object-Oriented Programming?
  • What Is Modeling and Mapping in Cincom® ObjectStudio®?
  • Interested in Trying Out Cincom Smalltalk for Yourself?
  • Looking for Smalltalk Examples and Ideas?
  • What Developer Events Are Coming Up?
  • Looking for Other Cincom Smalltalk Resources?

CUSTOMERS and PARTNERS

What Is the Cincom Discovery Zone?

In conversations with customers and partners, we share the valuable services and benefits that our Services team can provide. To better communicate those opportunities with you, we created a place on our website called The Cincom Discovery Zone for Customer and Partner Services. In this section, you can find detailed descriptions about these and other services:

  • 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 Enhancements – 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. This service is shaped to meet specific customer needs with defined objectives, clearly delineated areas to review and documented results and recommendations.
  • Proofs 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.
  • Migrations – Our Services team can move your application suite to the most productive Cincom Smalltalk programming environment, giving you fully scalable, web-based and client-server development enhancements.
  • Mentoring – It’s easy to learn the basics of installing and using Cincom Smalltalk. However, the most productive use of this sophisticated, pure object-oriented application development suite is achieved best through customized mentoring that is developed to meet your needs at your level of experience.
  • 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.

Maximizing productivity and efficiency is critical as companies seek to not only survive changing times but also maintain their revenue streams and creatively seek growth opportunities. Helping our customers and partners with their success is our main priority, and our Services team has decades of experience in uncovering hidden opportunities for growth, profit, value and success in your business.

To discover new potential for your business and learn how our team helps you uncover it, check out the Cincom Discovery Zone for Customer and Partner Services here

What Is the Cincom Smalltalk Partner Promotion Program?

We have a diverse group of customers and partners from a broad spectrum of industries, some having been partnering with us for 20, 25 and even 30 years while others have joined us recently through our REV Program. As Cincom Smalltalk Program Director, Suzanne Fortman, has said, “Whether you’ve been using Cincom Smalltalk for days or decades,” our customers and partners have stories about their success.

Forbes explains that marketing connects customers to the right product and helps “people throughout a company think from the outside-in about what is being offered, [and] convey its value in customer-centric ways. …” In a recent Harvard Business Review, business-school professors Thomas Steenburgh and Michael Ahearne said, “Senior leaders have great confidence in their ability to develop innovations but not in their ability to commercialize them.”

Marketing your product or service can be a difficult task. Since businesses spend so much time and resources on developing their products or services, marketing to prospects often gets overlooked, not prioritized nor budgeted for. Business leaders also may not know how to find the right prospects for their offerings nor the best way to communicate to their prospects once they are identified. What’s worse is that the cost of marketing products and services can often be more than a business can afford.

Marketing is a critical element in the success of any business, and our team knows that creating customer and partner success stories is valuable and important. That’s why the Cincom Smalltalk Partner Promotion program was created. This assistance is one of many benefits that come with being a Cincom customer or partner. 

How It Works
We make this process quick and easy to help give more exposure and brand awareness to our customers and partners without taking up valuable time that could be used elsewhere.

  • Step One: Fill Out a Questionnaire
    First, we ask the customer or partner to fill out a brief, online questionnaire to discover the “who, what, how, why and when” of their product or service offering.
  • Step Two: Develop the Story
    Once the customer or partner completes the online questionnaire, our team takes the information provided and begins writing the new story. Sometimes, we ask more questions and dig deeper into the product or service.  With this extra follow-up, we often uncover the “secret sauce.” This helps develop the story with maximum effectiveness for the perfect audience of the customer and partner application or service.
  • Step Three: Promote the Story
    Once the story is written and approved, we promote the story with:

    1. A new webpage in the “User Story” section of the Cincom Smalltalk website.
    2. A PDF version of the story that customers and partners can distribute to their own prospects.
    3. Promotion on our social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram, as well as references in videos, blog posts, email campaigns and the monthly Cincom Smalltalk Digest email newsletter.

Examples
If you would like to see a few examples of how the Cincom Smalltalk Partner Promotion Program works, check out the Adventure World German Language, Digital Design Solutions LLC and HTS Engineering user stories.

Where Can You Find Cincom Smalltalk Customer and Partner Resources?

Looking for something and can’t find it? Here, you can find our customer and partner resources, programs and product information conveniently listed:

Reach out to the Cincom Smalltalk Product Team at CSSTARTeam@cincom.com if you have any further questions or comments. 

Why Do We Ask Customers and Partners for Feedback?

Each month in the Cincom Smalltalk Digest newsletter, we ask for feedback from our customers and partners.  Why do we do this? 

Listening and responding are two important factors in providing a great customer and partner experience, and that conversation is valuable to Cincom and Cincom Smalltalk. Communication with customers and partners helps to steer our products in the right direction and improve all aspects of our messaging to better serve our customers, partners and prospects.

As a customer or partner, do you have any feedback for our team? If so, please send your comments or suggestions to the Cincom Smalltalk Product Team at CSSTARTeam@cincom.com.

BEGINNERS, FREELANCERS and DEVELOPERS

In this section, beginners to Smalltalk, freelancers and developers will read informative articles and see specific Smalltalk examples to help users learn new skills or enhance existing skills using Cincom Smalltalk.

Starting from Scratch: What Is Object-Oriented Programming?

It’s always interesting to learn about someone’s first experience at Smalltalk programming, especially when it’s their first experience. The following is an account of how Jeremy Jordan, the Marketing Manager for Cincom Smalltalk, discovered that something that once seemed complex is actually quite simple.

Recently, I had an opportunity to try my hand at programming in Smalltalk, specifically using Cincom ObjectStudio. I’ve never programmed in my life, so this opportunity was both exciting and intimidating. The excitement came with trying something new, having a challenge and seeing what I could figure out. The intimidation came from the fact that programming never really made sense to me. Sure, I understood that a programming language communicates with applications and devices, telling them what to do and how to do it. The practice of programming seemed daunting to me, however. Learning syntax and how to write the actual code in the correct order to make something functional seemed like something in a foreign language … literally! 

Thankfully, one of our Cincom Smalltalk engineers recommended that I read the Smalltalk User Guide found in Cincom ObjectStudio. As I began reading through some of the document, the introduction alone was a game-changer to me. After reading through some of the introductory comments, I finally understood what object-oriented programming represented, at least from a high level. Although this may be second nature to the Cincom Smalltalk product team, I would like to share some snippets of what I learned.

“I made up the term object-oriented. …” – Alan Kay

Daily, I see things on social media that are related to object-oriented programming such as inheritance, polymorphism, abstraction, encapsulation, dynamic binding, garbage collection and so on. These core object-oriented ideas, developed decades ago, are still influential concepts today.

Object-orientation is simply a way of thinking about
and modeling the real world.

That phrase was very intriguing to me and helped me understand why our product team talks the way they do and shares the types of demonstrations they do in team meetings.  Every application shared in a meeting or even publicly on social media and our website (think, the Hidden Gems screencast series) relates to something in the real world! Now we know why.

With Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), users are learning a programming language and a new way of thinking. When learning a new language of any kind, Linguist.com says, You need to experience a language through lots of exposure before you can hope to learn it.” The same is true for object-oriented programming. The best way to learn OOP is to learn by immersing yourself in an environment, like Smalltalk, where you use objects all of the time.

In the object-oriented view of programming, standard computing concepts and data structures, such as control-of-flow, are abstracted and handled differently.

Instead, OOP focuses on simulating the real world.

There’s that phrase again … “the real world.” A developer uses objects to model real-world entities. Each object is intelligent and knows how to interact with other objects. With this approach, program design becomes relatively easy, because there is a direct correspondence between an object and its real-world counterpart, and you can bring all your real-world knowledge to bear. In fact, this approach allows you to focus more on the problem domain and less on computing-environment issues, such as memory management.

Marketers, like me, often look for “buzzwords” and “trends” to market a product, but object-oriented programming is a way of thinking, not a set of buzzwords:

  • An object is a combination of instance variables that describe the object’s data, and methods that describe the object’s behavior. In other languages, variables are comparable in certain respects to attributes, and methods are analogous to procedures.
  • Objects are intelligent—you can anthropomorphize (attribute human characteristics or behavior to them).
  • To request data or an action from an object, you must send a message to it. If the object understands the message, it activates the appropriate method. So, objects communicate similarly to humans!
  • The internal data elements of an object are not directly available to other objects. Other objects must always use messages to ask the object for its data. This is called encapsulation.
  • How an object interacts with the outside world is called its behavior. The object’s tasks and responsibilities determine its behavior. Sometimes an object will delegate a task to another object to avoid having to remember too much. A distributed design using responsibility and delegation is a good way of dealing with complexity and is one of the hallmarks of an object-oriented approach.
  • When designing an object, a developer concentrates on its behavior and interaction with other objects, not on its internal structure.
  • An object-oriented system consists of a group of objects sending messages to each other. 

In summary, I learned that a good object-oriented design is based on the real world. Objects map to entities in the real world. An object-oriented system is thus a simulation of some aspect of the world. Sounds like an easier approach to something that seemed so complex to me. Now, how can we apply this?

What Is Modeling and Mapping in Cincom ObjectStudio?

Cincom ObjectStudio is an ideal solution for developing custom applications for Windows®. Known as the “business analyst’s thinking tool,” and based on object-oriented programming in Smalltalk, ObjectStudio provides a powerhouse development environment, which is necessary to create innovative applications that capture complex business models and processes. Both Cincom ObjectStudio and Cincom VisualWorks share the same core libraries and foundation, the Cincom Smalltalk Foundation.

Cincom ObjectStudio includes the Next Generation User Interface (NGUI) that gives the latest features of Windows native widgets; no primitives; all Smalltalk using FFI (DLLCC) -> Windows API; support for jpg, png, gif and tif and access to GDI+ features including gradient brushes and alpha blending.

Among other features, ObjectStudio also has a newer Launcher that uses the NGUI and gives central, convenient access to frequently used items like favorite packages and bundles, loaded controllers, open windows and breakpoints.

Two powerful components found in ObjectStudio are the Modeling and Mapping Tools. In addition to being a developer’s writing application for clients, these components can also create a proof of concept or visual aid in which developers and Marketing can communicate. The Modeling and Mapping Tools can help build a visual walkthrough of the entire application—from the front to the back end. This helps developers and their clients be on the same page before months of development time and money are spent on writing the actual application.

The Modeling and Mapping Tools help show how quickly the application can be built, what can be built on to it or even that the idea may not be ready yet. This can give business owners more clarity on how to proceed with the project and show what their products will look like to their current customers or new prospects. As referenced in the Partner Promotion Program, marketing a product can be a difficult task for many companies. When business owners are spending all of their time, effort and resources on developing the product, they are unable to spend time finding and attracting new prospects to their businesses. Saving money, simplifying complexity and speeding up delivery time eases that burden and allows the product owners to focus on other areas of their businesses, such as identifying prospects.

From developer and business owner to investor and customer, the Modeling and Mapping Tools are capable of showing what’s possible with the application.

Let’s look at these components that can visually show modeled objects mapping to real-world entities:

Powerful Object Modeling
The ObjectStudio modeling tool integrates the design of complex business objects generation, presenting a high-level, business-like interface that delivers user-friendly tools for working with objects. The object modeling tool supports case analysis, event diagramming, CRC cards and notations, including industry-standard UML.

Using ObjectStudio, an application moves from the design stage to completion much faster than with traditional tools. The ObjectStudio modeling tool can modify and maintain applications more quickly and easily because class hierarchies and object relationships can be arranged graphically, without coding. Simply make changes to the model and then let the modeling tool generate the code automatically.

Robust Object Mapping
The ObjectStudio mapping tool provides visual, drag-and-drop tools for linking objects to databases. The Object Relational Mapper uses the resulting object mapping definitions to make application connections to your database, without requiring any SQL code to be written into the application. This allows the developer to concentrate on objects without worrying about the details of the database implementation. This is done automatically.

Round-Trip Engineering
Even after an application is rolled out, a developer’s job is not done. Ever-changing requirements mean ever-changing code. With ObjectStudio, any changes to the business object model are automatically reflected in the code and vice versa. This means that developers always have access to a current business model of the application. Using a current visual and easy-to-understand model, the developer’s business analysts, training and support team and IT staff can better understand the complex enterprise applications and be productive in less time.

Want to learn more and see the Modeling and Mapping Tool in action? On our website there are tutorials on the Modeling and Mapping Tools, as well as recorded, live demonstrations, previously presented by Product Management and Engineering. You can find those videos and more information about the Modeling and Mapping Tools here: http://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/main/products/objectstudio/modeling-and-mapping-tools/ 

Interested in Trying Out Cincom Smalltalk for Yourself?

Are you looking to try something new to meet your application development needs? Does object-oriented programming interest you? Are you intrigued by what the Modeling and Mapping Tool can do for you or your business? If the answer is “YES” to any of these questions, we have two offerings just for you:

  1. Try Cincom Smalltalk – The Personal Use License is ideal for developers who are looking to sharpen their skills through a new developer tool. 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. 
    1. Step One:
      Listen as Suzanne Fortman, the Cincom Smalltalk Program Director and Engineering Manager, discusses the value you can create using Cincom Smalltalk here.
    2. Step Two:
      Click here to start exploring Cincom Smalltalk and all that it can do for you.
  2. Buy Cincom Smalltalk – 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 one-year/12-month time period. As highlighted above, 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. Here’s the simple process:
    1. Step One:
      Listen as Suzanne discusses the REV Program and the benefits a user receives by becoming a partner with Cincom here.
    2. Step Two:
      Contact the Cincom Smalltalk Product Team for more information about purchasing. 

Looking for Smalltalk Examples and Ideas?

What Is the DatePicker Widget?

Cincom Smalltalk Digest readers have benefited from the Hidden Gems screencast series for several years now. Beginners in Smalltalk or developers looking at Cincom Smalltalk for the first time are now learning of its value. Arden Thomas, the Cincom Smalltalk Product Manager, started the Hidden Gems screencast to give specific Smalltalk examples to other developers. Arden crafted this video series to share these examples, shortcuts, tips and techniques that might make it easier for other developers.

In this month’s new screencast, Arden discusses the DatePicker widget and how to use it. The DatePickerControl class represents a brand-new widget known as DatePicker.  Although it is not completely integrated into the tool environment, it is relatively straightforward to use, once you know how. Note that this widget will not help with finding someone to watch a movie with, but it will help you manage your calendar. 

DatePicker1 
In the first of three screencasts, Arden shows where to find the new DatePicker widget and demonstrates how easy it is to integrate and use in an application.  Watch this screencast below, or click here.

This screencast is part of the Tools Series, which explores some tools and product features that developers should find useful. 

DatePicker2 
In this second screencast, Arden demonstrates how to integrate the DatePicker and tie it to another widget via the ValueModel framework. This allows you to integrate and use the DatePicker just like other widgets. Watch this screencast below, or click here.

This screencast is not only part of the Tools Series, it is also part of the ValueModel Series, which shows the principles, capabilities and use of the powerful ValueModel framework.

DatePicker3 
This third screencast shows how you can build the DatePicker into an application, and then reuse and integrate the application in a modular fashion.  This uses the DomainMaster framework. This screencast also makes use of the ClassCloning tool. Watch this screencast below, or click here.

As with the two above, this third screencast is part of the Tools Series and also part of the DomainMaster Series, which introduces an application framework that leverages the principles of the ValueModel to make application development easier, faster, capable and reliable.

If you have questions, comments, ideas for other Smalltalk examples or suggestions for future Hidden Gems, please email the Cincom Smalltalk Product Team at CSSTARTeam@cincom.com.

What Developer Events Are Coming Up?

One year ago, nearly all of the world’s events either cancelled or postponed indefinitely, in light of a pandemic we knew little about.  Fast-forward a year in time and we currently have protocols and practices in place that allow us to function in a more safe way as a society. At the beginning of the pandemic, most businesses were hit hard, as social distancing and curfews kept people inside and away from the public. Now, we have learned how to safely navigate this virus and its spread, together. As society continues to adjust to this ever-changing climate, virtual events have become the “new norm” and the standard across most industries.  In the Smalltalk community, it’s been fascinating to see how in-person meetings have adapted and grown. Please take note of these future meetings and their medium for delivery:

  • March 31, 2021 (VIRTUAL) – UK Smalltalk User Group Meetup
  • April 14, 2021 (VIRTUAL) – California Smalltalkers Meetup
  • October 17-22, 2021 (Chicago, Illinois) — SPLASH 2021 (ACM SIGPLAN conference on Systems, Programming, Languages, and Applications: Software for Humanity)Will also be co-located and co-hosting (online) the following conferences and symposiums: 
    • OOPSLA 2021 (Object-Oriented Programming Systems, Languages and Applications)
    • APLAS 2021 (Asian Symposium on Programming Languages and Systems) 
    • DLS 2021 (Dynamic Languages Symposium)
    • GPCE 2021 (Generative Programming: Concepts & Experiences)
    • SAS 2021 (Static Analysis Symposium)
    • SLE 2021 (Software Language Engineering)

You can monitor other future meetups and conferences as well as any changes to their scheduling on our Events page here.

Looking for Other Cincom Smalltalk Resources?

We have our user resources, programs and product information listed here:

  • Cincom Smalltalk Digest – Subscriber-based, monthly newsletter that is an index that highlights recent news, events and product information on our website.
  • Hidden Gems Screencasts – Screencasts that are tips and tricks of using Cincom Smalltalk, demonstrating how to be successful with our products.
    • 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 such as 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. 
  • Product Tutorials – As new users begin their journeys with Cincom Smalltalk, it’s important to know where to start and have a helpful guide along the way. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive list of online video tutorials that help beginners use our products right away. Cincom Smalltalk product tutorials give examples with live coding and are designed to help users become productive with the Cincom Smalltalk suite of products.  Our tutorials are divided into three sections:
    • Common Tools – Many of the tools used for development in Cincom ObjectStudio and Cincom VisualWorks are now commonly shared through the Cincom Smalltalk Foundation, making some of our tutorials applicable for either product.
    • Cincom ObjectStudio – These tutorials demonstrate various steps in the installation and first usage of ObjectStudio. ObjectStudio is an ideal solution for developing custom applications for Windows®. Known as the “business person’s thinking tool” and based on the powerful Smalltalk language, ObjectStudio provides a powerhouse development environment, which is necessary to create innovative applications that capture complex business models and processes.
    • Cincom VisualWorks – Similar to the ObjectStudio videos, these tutorials demonstrate various steps in the installation and first usage of VisualWorks. VisualWorks is the premiere Smalltalk environment and is an ideal solution for enterprise-class, multilingual, cross-platform application development and allows users to build with superior development tools.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (How Do I … ?) – A knowledge base of questions that our Product Team gets asked most often.  Most of these questions start with, “How do I … ?” so we labeled this area the “How Do I … ?” section. It is filled with questions from a variety of subjects about our products—from installation to specific uses in different platforms. 
  • Social Media:

Reach out to the Cincom Smalltalk Product Team at CSSTARTeam@cincom.com if you have any further questions or comments.