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Is SmallTalk a real option?

There's a nice little back and forth developing over at Cincom Smalltalk blog (Yes, it is a smalltalk'ish blog):

Over on QLOD, a new Smalltalker asks:

"What makes me wonder though: Are Smalltalkers really that much more productive. In contrast to C or C with a bad IDE and without libraries maybe, but in contrast to a more modern language ? (Think about something like AS1 with additional runtime typechecking and a big library like java, probably a bad example :)) Can anyone provide some pointers ? "

A large part of the productivity comes from consistency. In Smalltalk, everything is an object. No primitive data types, no special rules on certain types of methods - which means you spend more time focused on the actual problem, instead of on how to fight the system to allow you to solve the problem. Another big thing is extensibility. We can extend any class in Smalltalk - need a new method in String? Go ahead and add it. No need to start wrapping all your string references with a new class, and wondering how to get third party libraries to play ball. Blocks add some capabilities that neither Java nor any CLR language have as well. Anyone else have answers?

(You'd do well to read some of the comments on that post and also this post for more reasons)

I've tried Smalltalk before and had problems with it. The main problem was that I didn't "get" it. As a developer, I'm always looking for ways to be productive. f someone says to me that SmallTalk is more productive that my current .Net infatuation, I'll believe it. Provided proof of course. There are many good reasons over there why SmallTalk is more productive, but what happens when you move it into the enterprise application space?

How well does it cope with creating web services? using distributed solutions? talking to other applications? integration? Maintenance? How widespread is it? If I learn SmallTalk, will I be able to get a job in it? will I be able to leverage my current skills in .Net using SmallTalk, or just write some of my business logic in it while the other parts using a .Net language? (Isn't there a SmallTalk.Net out there?)

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