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Craig Latta SqF 2007
Last updated at 5:39 am UTC on 5 March 2007
Hi all–

     I served on the Squeak Foundation board of directors for the 2006-2007 term. During that term, I...
     My vision for Squeak is that we make it approachable, inspiring, and serious fun for all comers. In the next term, I plan to complete incorporation, and help decide how best to spend our sustainable resources for the community. I want to help the teams function smoothly (again, particularly the release team). And I want to have more fun with Squeak myself!

     Please feel free to contact me at http://netjam.org and the Squeak IRC channel, irc://freenode.net/#squeak/.

Here are community questions I have answered:

> Given that you're being elected for a period of one year, and
> working with a volunteer community, please nominate one commitment
> you can make to improve the world of Squeak in that time. I'm not
> looking for any Herculean tasks, but something SMART (specific,
> measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible), so we can look back
> next year, and see how much better Squeak is as a result of your
> involvement with the board.

I plan to complete the establishment of the Squeak Foundation's
ability to receive tax-deductible donations.

> Will you do your best for helping people developing applications in
> in Squeak have their work respected on the long run? (which means
> attention to backward compatibility, and resisting the temptation to
> drop large chunks of code from the image just for the sake of
> cleaning it up)

Yes. I'm interested in a fair environment. I also think that the
core object memory should be minimal, and that each participant has
the ability to add what they wish to it.

> What is your bias - do you see Squeak as:
> - an environment for developers?
> - a tool for bringing programming to kids?
> - (or) can you justify being split both ways?

You can't bring programming to kids without providing a means for
developers to do so. Just as importantly, you can't sustain that task
without enabling some of those kids to become developers
eventually. Doing either means doing the other.

> Squeak 3.9 looks to many people more like a researcher's working
> image than a release that is universally usable. Media people seem
> to stay with 3.8 and some server users even with 3.7. Squeak
> traditionally stands for media. The big publicity, developer
> talent, time resources and funding is on the side of the media
> developers and their user group make up the majority of Squeak
> users. Something definitely went wrong. One idea would be to adopt
> the Croquet deployment\Homebase.image as a second line of official
> Squeak images. Are you aware that the biggest problem for squeak.org
> is this split of the community and if so what are you planning to do
> about it?

I think that's a false premise. Although splits in the community
over various issues indeed pose big problems, I think the biggest is
the lack of a good modularization scheme for organizing the system. I
think there should be a minimal core and several larger modular
systems for special purposes.

> What is the orientation you favor with respect to Squeak's
> development? Are you more inclined towards Squeak as a tool for
> research or Squeak as a potential commercial development
> environment?

Again, I think without doing the former you can't sustain the
latter. I personally want to do both.

> What importance do you give to packages like ODBC and Seaside?

Those packages are very important. The question is vague; the
questioner clearly thinks those packages are important, but it's not
clear to me what action (s)he wants the board to take in their regard.

> Any plans regarding Squeak's UI? Will we revamp Morphic, use Morphic
> 3.0 or push the development of something like Tweak?

I don't think it's appropriate for the board to declare that in
the absence of working code (although the questioner certainly
does). Again, it sounds to me that the questioner already has made up
their mind on an issue, and wants to wield an authoratative opinion
against those who disagree. This isn't what the board is for, in my

That being said, I certainly do have my own opinions. I do not
think Morphic is worth fixing. Someone who really likes its ideas
should draw upon them to implement a system which isn't the
impenetrable mess that Morphic has become. Tweak may be that
system. Morphic 3.0 may be that system. We need more people willing to
advocate either of them.

> How do you plan to work with the various projects in the Squeak
> community, including Seaside, Sophie and Croquet?

All projects are welcome to ask the board for help when they need
it. I see the board as primarily a delegator of tasks to the right
interested people. For example, I imagine the board will encourage the
public relations team to emphasize project successes at conferences
and online.

> I think improving the image by going to a Developers way can benefit
> us with more developers, companys etc.. supporting Squeak. Squeak is
> the only Smalltalk flavour opensource that could be "fight" versus
> commercial smalltalks. What do you think about this? How you will
> help to get a good GUI Builder (for example), and other packages
> very importants to get a more "profesionnal" image (profesionnal on
> more comercial projects based on..)

Please allow me to rephrase (and please feel free to ask
questions in any language).

> I think improving the image, by emphasizing developer support, can
> benefit us with more support for Squeak from developers, companies,
> etc. Squeak is the only open-source Smalltalk flavor that could
> compete against commercial Smalltalks. What do you think about this?
> How you will help to get a good GUI Builder (for example), and other
> important packages, for a more "professional" image upon which more
> commercial projects are based?

Only motivated developers can make that happen (it sounds like
you're one of them; this is good). It sounds to me, though, that
you're expecting the board to support such development with
money. When we have a sustainable budget (largely, in my opinion, by
being a tax-exempt organization that can receive tax-deductible
donations and grants), I think that would be a fine thing to consider.

> Do you support stepping up fundraising? If so, what do you propose to
> do with the money collected?

It seems to me that there is a very strong consensus in the
community in support of increased fundraising; I support it as well. In
fact, this consensus is so strong that the first part of the question
strikes me as very odd. Clearly (to me), the tricky part, and where
there -is- disagreement, is about creating an appropriate legal entity
to receive and disburse the funds.

If we had funding, I would suggest we spend it on keeping the
community's online facilities running (hosting bills, etc.). If we can
devise a fair and productive way to fund development, I would support
that as well.

> Do you support bounty projects? If so, can you lay out how you would
> like to see a bounty program administered?

As I said above, I support funding development in a fair and
productive way. The typical "bounty" seems to consist of a vague
statement of the desired result and a rather arbitrary financial reward.
I think doing something like this in the Squeak community would almost
certainly lead to bitterness, because it would be a race where every
loser would invest far more effort than is reasonable. I think it would
create unconstructive competition. It would turn developers into
footrace contestants working in secret, each hoping to beat the others.
There would be significant pressure to claim to be first, rather than
doing the job properly; and I suspect there would be a great deal of
arguing over whether the goal was actually met, and the people arguing
would have a financial interest in the outcome. Not good!

For each desired result, I would much rather see the appropriate
community team solicit and refine bids from interested developers, in
public, and choose one. With a dialog between bidders and the rest of
the community, I think we'd be more likely to define the goal with
sufficient detail, and choose appropriate rewards. I expect that a bid
could be rescinded if work went over schedule, etc.

Of course, for any of this to be possible, we need to have a budget
which is both sufficiently large and sustainable.

> Do you support incorporation and not for profit tax status for Squeak
> Foundation?

This question strikes me as especially loaded. The Squeak
Foundation board of directors has already been working toward this for
months, as you can read in the board meeting notes. Isn't it a bit late
to be asking this question? Why didn't you take issue with our approach
when we mentioned it in the meeting notes? The main signal I get from
this question is that you oppose incorporation as a distinct tax-exempt
organization, and that you're somehow trying to draw support for that
point of view. Not long after you initially posted these questions, my
suspicion was proved correct by a subsequent message you sent to the
board (which I leave to you to repeat in public if you wish).

At best, I think you have a conflict of interest on this issue
(between speaking for the community in asking campaign questions and
having your own agenda on this issue).

> What do you believe is the future of Smalltalk?

I think the future of Smalltalk is one in which it is seen as the
easiest way to teach the expression of intent with a computer, and the
most productive way to build meaningful systems. So far I think
Smalltalk has done rather well on the second part, but very poorly on
the first.

> What do you think the community is doing right, what should be
> improved?

The community has started to delegate tasks to the right interested
people, which is great. The way we communicate, though, isn't terribly
effective. I think it'd help if we devoted more effort to real-time
communication (e.g., via the Squeak IRC channel, Skype, and in-person

> Should the Squeak be represented at more conferences?

Of course it should. I can't imagine why anyone would answer "no"
to this question, so it seems very odd. There are, however, reasons why
we might not able to accomplish it, such as a lack of funds or available
time. I hope no one will confuse a lack of resources with a lack of desire.