[advocacy] Hello from Squeak

Dan Ingalls Dan
Sun Dec 23 22:19:23 PST 2001

Good People of Ogg -

I have watched the Vorbis project from afar and am totally enthusiastic.  When MP3 came out with all its proprietary restrictions, I said to myself "That's ridiculous;  we ought to just sit down and do another one that's open."  When I heard about the Vorbis project I was delighted to know that others had felt the same way, and were actually well on the way to a practical artifact.

However I recently read in your FAQ that Vorbis is only...

"part of the Ogg project, which is a blanket project
designed to create a fully open multimedia system."

I would like to hear more about this, as it is close to the goals of the Squeak project in which I have been involved since its inception.  You can find out more about it at http://squeak.org.  As a brief summary,

Squeak is an open, highly-portable Smalltalk implementation
whose virtual machine is written entirely in Smalltalk,
making it easy to debug, analyze, and change.
To achieve practical performance, a translator produces
an equivalent C program whose performance is comparable
to commercial Smalltalks.

Other noteworthy aspects of Squeak include: a compact object
format that typically requires only a single word of overhead
per object; a simple yet efficient incremental garbage
collector for 32-bit direct pointers; efficient bulk-mutation
of objects; extensions of BitBlt to handle color of any depth
and anti-aliased image rotation and scaling; and real-time
sound and music synthesis written entirely in Smalltalk.

Much of the focus of Squeak development has been to support multimedia.  In the area of sound, we have worked on compression (not at the level of Vorbis), synthesis (real-time FM and wavetable synthesis and experiments with physical modelling), an interactive timbre editor for FM voices, real-time spectral analysis (FFT), and experimental wavelet codec, a Klatt speech synthesis module with even a simple text-to-speech driver.  Besides the breadth and depth of these projects, they are all completely alive -- that is, all source code is accessible from within Squeak, and you can browse *and change* it while running your application.  Everything in Squeak runs bit-identically on all platforms (Windows, WinCE, *nix, mac, and a few bare chips;  all Squeak really needs is a Bios).

In other multimedia support, Squeak can read and display (in its native engine), Flash, TrueType, and VRML 3D and MPEG (and M-JPEG) in addition to normal bitmap graphics (GIF, PNG, JPEG) of all bit depths (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32).

I say this all just so that you will know we are serious -- and having fun!  There is more depth to the Squeak project in numerous directions such as games, iconic scripting, logic programming, network access and servers.  There are about a thousand developers on the Squeak mailing list with probably a hundred using it daily and something like 30 of us actively involved in the evolution of Squeak itself.

The obvious question is, could we be having more even more fun together as cooperating communities?  The topic of compression standards came up recently on the Squeak list and I and several others said we should at least support the Vorbis standard.  That's simple enough.  The question I have is, what more is there to the Ogg charter and work in progress, and is it possible that we could help to move things along, and crank up some other interesting projects?

I have subscribed to advocacy at xiph.org in order to make this contact.  If one or more of you feel moved to respond, I'll forward the thread to the other Squeak developers.  This will save you from dealing with around 1000 messages/month that you will get if you subscribe to our mailing list (the best way to meet us (other than at a pub ;-)).

As you'll see at Squeak.org, you can subscribe at:
or email
squeak-dev-request at lists.squeakfoundation.org
with subject=subscribe.  Once you are subscribed, you can post to:
squeak-dev at lists.squeakfoundation.org
and it would help us if you precede any subject with [ogg vorbis].

In hopes that some of our work will prove as interesting to you folks as yours does to us, I look forward to an interesting 2002.

- Dan Ingalls, for the Squeak community

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