In his book “Beyond Java”, Bruce Tate asks whether Seaside can really be innovative if it was developed using Smalltalk, a language that emerged in the late 80s. It’s a relevant question, and there is an answer; there are several good reasons why it is so innovative. First, the design of Smalltalk is still one of the best in terms of elegance, purity, and consistency. Second, the set of tools is really good: debuggers, browsers, refactoring engines, and unit testing frameworks were all invented in Smalltalk. Third, and most important, in Smalltalk you constantly interact with live objects. This is particularly exciting when developing web applications. There’s no need to constantly recompile your code or restart the server. Instead, you debug your applications on the fly, recompile running code, and access your business objects right in the browser, which gives you a huge productivity gain.
Experience has proven to us that Smalltalk is not difficult to learn, it provides many advantages and it’s no hindrance to using Seaside. In fact we often see people starting to learn Smalltalk because of Seaside. To help you get up to speed, we suggest you read Pharo by Example. It is a free book available at www.pharobyexample.org. Chapters 3, 4 and 5 contain a minimal description of Smalltalk, its object-oriented model and the elementary syntax elements that you need to know to follow this book. In the next chapter, we will help you to get started with the environment step by step.