Positioning Smalltalk in Enterprise Application Development Projects

Andreas Tönne



Enterprise application development today is mainly associated with Java. In the last ten years since the introduction of JEE, enterprise application development and Java influenced each other heavily to produce today’s unique set of technologies and tools. These are ready made and cover almost all aspects of software development as part of an enterprise architecture implementation. The selection criteria for a development platform in the enterprise require the incorporation of these tested and mostly open-source technologies and tools. Enterprise development is about business needs and not about reinventing infrastructure technology. Although Smalltalk has many qualities that makes it attractive for such projects, it is hardly ever considered or even selected for lack of or integration with these technologies and tools.

In this talk we ask the question how Smalltalk would look like today and where it would be used successfully in the enterprise if Smalltalk would have gone through a similar genesis as Java. From the vast experience of NovaTec in enterprise development, using Smalltalk, Java and C++, we investigate the selection criteria for technology at various layers of application development. We identify where Smalltalk can play its strengths and what technologies, tools and interfaces are missing to consider Smalltalk and VisualWorks in particular for enterprise development.

The talk presents where Smalltalk can excel in enterprise application development and gives sound arguments for this choice. It also draws a borderline between the technologies and tools that wait to be implemented in Smalltalk and the given non-Smalltalk technologies and tools that should be reused.


Andreas Tönne is a managing consultant at NovaTec GmbH and previously was lead consultant for Cincom in Europe and vice-president of Georg Heeg eK. Andreas has been using Smalltalk since 1986. Recently he broadened his scope to enterprise level application development, embracing JEE and .NET. His goal is to hear more Smalltalk in the enterprise.