[smalltalk-central] Smalltalk-Central web application

Mark D. Roberts mroberts at cincom.com
Tue Sep 26 02:47:35 BST 2006

As promised, I have put some documentation on the Smalltalk-Central web 
application on line. This is a first step to make it possible to get others 
involved in development of the site app itself.

To recap: the web application is implemented using server pages in the 
VisualWorks Application Server. The app is built on top of a CMF called 
Shoji, implemented using the same technology along with OmniBase.

The background here is that four years ago I wanted a real CMF built in 
Smalltalk. The rest of the world has figured out that CMFs are the way to 
go for building web sites, with packages like Zope and Plone becoming 
wildly popular. As usual, the Smalltalk community was lagging badly behind, 
and Wikis are too primitive for building a serious CMS. Frustration being 
the mother of invention, I studied a bunch of commercial solutions, 
gathered my requirements, and started building one myself. I called it 
"Shoji", after the paper screens used in Japan, the metaphor being a 
screen/filter between outside and inside that provides attractive natural 

More information about the Shoji CMF is here:


Shoji was originally built for a SQL database, but I quickly hit many 
problems with the VisualWorks EXDI (connection pooling doesn't work for 
writes??) and I got tired of spinning my wheels trying to think through a 
bunch of O-R mapping problems that had nothing to do with my application. 
OmniBase was an attractive alternative so I tried that instead. The ease of 
being able to persist objects sold me immediately.

The Shoji CMF has evolved considerably since then, but there are still some 
features that are missing. For example, I wanted "templates", i.e., to be 
able to save my server pages in the database and wrap them inside objects. 
This would simplify many things. Alas, VisualWorks only allows server pages 
to exist as files. For the future, it might make more sense to port the 
whole thing to Seaside, but that's a big chunk of work, ugly URLs are a 
show-stopper for me, and I wonder about the performance of Seaside (a few 
dozen message sends to build up each HTML tag in a page?). I still want to 
investigate Seaside, but really don't have the time now.

Anyway, so much for the background. To set up the S-C application on a 
local machine, you need a ZIP file containing all the bits. Ask me if 
you're interested.

Finally, as you have seen, each time I update the S-C site application, I 
put an announcement here:




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