[smalltalk-central] Some thoughts about new tutorials

Mark D. Roberts mroberts at cincom.com
Tue Sep 26 08:46:04 BST 2006

At 01:09 PM 9/26/2006, Eric Winger wrote:
>I generally agree with the principals here. Expanding on your task list 
>comment at the end, I think we should create a list of desired tutorials, 
>assemble them, then discard everything else on the tutorial dump page. 
>Then, after finishing the initial list, we can add tutorials in the same 
>format for specific topics.


>I started to make a list of tutorials, then I got bogged down thinking 
>about how to do this. The biggest problem is, what to do about the flavor 
>specificness of each smalltalk. Do we have the same tutorial basically 
>rewritten for each tutorial in the same format?

I think the only way to do it is to have separate tutorials for each flavor 
of Smalltalk. There are just too many differences to try and have one 
document and ask readers to keep skipping over "variant sections". Right 
now, I's say we can boil down the main versions to VisualWorks, Squeak, and 
Dolphin. I'm not going to worry about the other Smalltalks. If somebody 
wants to adapt one of the tutorials another dialect, fine, but I don't see 
that we can tackle all of them. We barely have the resources to do one.

If we really want to expand the market share for Smalltalk, at some point 
in the future the Smalltalk community is going to have to advance beyond 
its presently balkanized mind set. Probably, that means just accepting that 
some dialects are going to die off. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

>The other big thing I see is how do we maintain these. I don't want to see 
>them get out of date as soon as they are written, because screen shots 
>suddenly go out of date. Ideas?

Screen shots are usually good for 18-24 months. Speaking as one who has 
worked on documentation for a number of years, I don't think there is any 
simple solution to this. Somebody will have to just keep maintaining the 
tutorials, refreshing and revising as necessary to track future releases. 
There's no way around it.

Aside from integrated documentation systems, there are no simple solutions. 
The Smalltalk community is just going to have to step up to the plate and 
get serious about this stuff.


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