Popping My Web Development Cherry

When I was first approached to create a website for The Good Sex Network, I made several key decisions. First, I decided that, as much as possible, I would use free or open source software. This was as much to avoid being locked into Microsoft’s proprietary world as it was to be thrifty.

Second, I chose to do all my web application development work with Smalltalk and Seaside. Smalltalk is a venerable object-oriented programming language, the first of its kind to achieve significant popularity. Seaside is the web application framework associated with Smalltalk.

I chose the open source dialect of Smalltalk called Squeak because this was the main platform upon which Seaside was continually being developed. Consequently, I would receive the most immediate and current Seaside support from the vibrant community of developers.

Here’s the list of free software used on the server side:

– free CSS templates from Open Web Design
– Ubuntu Linux Server 7.04 (“Feisty Fawn”)
– Apache 2.2.3
– PostgreSQL 8.2
– GLORP 0.4.129
– Seaside 2.8
– Squeak 3.9-7067
– Darwin Streaming Server 5.5.5

Also, WordPress and Ning are used for ancillary websites such as blogs and social network.

Third, I decided not to operate our own email server. So all our email accounts reside at Gmail.

From inception to final delivery (including a beta trial), this project took less than one year (in fact, one man-year). The final result is a Dell PowerEdge R200 1U rack server (2.4GHz Quad-Core Xeon, 4GB DDR2, 500GB SATA hard drive) colocated at 3z.ca. Our web application is load-balanced (using Apache) over 20 Squeak VMs (Virtual Machines).

I should conclude by confessing that this was my very first (and solo) web project. It was a tremendous learning experience. And a very taxing one, as well. But overall it was a very rewarding intellectual exercise.

I highly recommend using Seaside and Smalltalk to develop your web applications. It’s far superior to using the traditional method of web development, ie, via application templates and RESTful URLs. Seaside will cut down your development effort (and time) to a fraction of the industry average.

(This opinion belongs solely to the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Good Sex Network.)

2 thoughts on “Popping My Web Development Cherry”

  1. I have since rebuilt the server software (after a major server crash). We are now running Ubuntu Server 10.04 (“Lucid Lynx”), and instead of Ning, our social network is hosted at Webs.com.

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