Updated the LaserGame Squeak tutorial

Posted by steve | Smalltalk | Sunday 18 October 2009 2:08 pm

I continue to receive emails from students new to learning programing, object oriented development, Smalltalk and Squeak, as they go through my tutorial LaserGame.

Recently I was reminded again that I misunderstood my target audience when I wrote that tutorial.  My original goal was that this would be a process showing development through-to-completion of a delivered application all written in Squeak using Test Drive Development and generally sound everyday development practices.  And I thought the tutorial would be utilized by students having already learned the basics.  That turned out to be way off base.  I get letters all the time from complete newbies telling me thank you.

And earlier this week I was asked by one of these less experienced students about how I did what I thought was a very basic step in the process.  But of course, someone new wouldn’t know that.  My mistake.  So I just published another update with a clarification in that section.  I’m so grateful for the positive feedback that I get.

Here’s the updated page: http://squeak.preeminent.org/tut2007/html/038.html

I’ve made a lot of noise about doing a complete rewrite of the tutorial, in the past.  Yes, I have not completed that work.  First there were health concerns interrupting my work, then some health issues within the family.  Lately it’s just been too many other projects.  It’s amazing that I was able to carve out a clean free-time space and create that tutorial in 2007 like I did.  I think the whole thing was written and published over 4 weekends during that summer.

When I get back to the project I have several new goals in mind.  First off the tutorial will account for the inexperienced motivated student.  I’ll have more detailed notes and examples.  I’ve already started rewriting much of those parts.  I’m also uncomfortable that I gloss over some design considerations in a few places and want to amplify upon that work.  I’m also intending to make the tutorial available in book form, probably through LuLu.com.  Two other goals are worth mentioning.  I intend to have a version of the tutorial support the new dialect of Squeak called Pharo.  That actually complicates things considerably since the tutorial relies heavily on screenshots and the two dialect look so different.  I’m guessing I’ll have to create some of the Morphic objects that LaserGame uses but do not exist in Pharo too.  Lastly, I think the tutorial could easily be extended to take the student as far as making Laser Game an iPhone app.  That would increase the audience for Smalltalk development too.