Moving development from Smalltalk to Javascript

Last week during the SPLASH/OOPSLA 2012 conference, Jamie and I made the decision to take our existing code base and convert it to Javascript instead of Smalltalk. This was a rather painful (and some might say drastic) decision. However, it was something that we have been thinking over very carefully after our last demo.

Both of us really like Smalltalk as an environment. Nonetheless, there were at least two major challenges that influence our decision. First, it was very hard to find developers and contributors who know Smalltalk. Sadly, Smalltalk isn’t taught at many schools and universities. Instead, most schools have focused on more mainstream languages such as Java/C/C++ and, now, Javascript. Second, it was very hard to get users to download the Squeak image to play around with Language of Languages. To most users, the Squeak image is a foreign concept with an outdated user interface. Thus, it is a good idea to be able to run the Language of Languages workbench inside a web browser. This idea has almost become commonplace as more and more IDEs and tools migrate to the web browser to allow users to experiment without having to install anything on their computer. It offers a very low-barrier entry into trying out a tool to gauge how one would like it.

The Javascript language addressed both those challenges. Note that we are not blaming the Smalltalk language for any of the shortcomings that we have in Language of Languages. We are just looking toward the future goals and visions of our project and, at this point, Javascript fits better with that agenda.

Future Language of Languages development will be done through its Github repository at

OOPSLA Demo Slides Posted!

Thanks to everyone who attended our first demo session. The slides for the demo are not available from the publications page.

Demonstrations at SPLASH 2011


We will be giving an overview of what the Language of Languages(LoLs) project is all about at SPLASH 2011. If you are attending, please stop by for one of our three demo sessions:

We’d love to talk to you and hear your comments about LoLs!

Hope to see you there!