Squeak and eToys

I had a couple people tell me that they intended to play around with Squeak after hearing about it, and at least one of them pronounced himself baffled.

I should clarify. I’m not messing with Squeak in general. Squeak in general is about ten dozen different things at once, mostly brilliant but in constant flux and poorly documented. One of those things is Etoys, which is the environment I was getting to know. It is a tiny part of Squeak, but it is by far the most accessible part of Squeak, and it is the part that has been most successful in being a programming/media arena available to children. Really, Etoys is not Squeak itself but something new made out of Squeak; regular Squeak programming does not involve dragging and dropping tiles!

There is a community of Etoys enthusiasts, mostly educators, headquartered at Squeakland, devoted entirely to the use of the Etoys part of Squeak. To make things easy, Squeaklanders have their own version of Squeak, which installs itself as a browser plugin, like Flash. They happily build their Etoys and share them and teach kids how to build them and all that stuff, without worrying bout the other 99% of Squeak that the hardcore smalltalk hackers play with.

The plugin is not just a player, though. It’s the whole programming environment. You can take the Etoy you’re playing with and change it around and do things with it and save a copy with your own changes, or share that new copy, or start a new etoy entirely.

I saved a copy of Goober to share, and put it on my server here, and I wanted to test it out with the browser plugin, and found out that there’s no version of the plugin made specifically for Intel macs, and you have to do some silly voodoo to make the ppc version work. Ugh. I went to Windows XP under Parallels and downloaded a copy of the browser plugin for Firefox on XP. It installed quickly & easily, and I tried to check out the goober file… and it got all errory and crashy. Turns out that what I built in the latest version of Squeak from Squeak.org isn’t really compatible with the version at squeakland.org. If I wanted something for squeakland I should have built it there.

That’s frustrating, and the fact that I can’t get an Intel mac native version of the Squeakland Etoys environment is doubly frustrating. So I’m throwing up my hands for the moment, till things change.

For an interesting, recent perspective on what EToys is all about, from Elder God Alan Kay himself, check out this recent post on the Squeakland mailing list.

Peace out.

1 thought on “Squeak and eToys”

  1. Wrong etoys. Which you ought to have realized if you read the article.

Comments are closed.