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Squeak: Learn Programming with Robots (Technology in Action) Paperback – January 13, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephane Ducasse obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis and his habilitation at the University of Paris VI. He was recipient of the SNF 2002 Professeur Boursier Award. He is now a professor at the Universit de Savoie. Ducasse has written several books in French and English.

Ducasse's fields of interests include reflective systems design, object-oriented language design, software component composition, application implementation and design, and object-oriented application reengineering. He is the main developer of the Moose reengineering environment. Ducasse also loves programming in Smalltalk and serves as president of the European Smalltalk User Group. He is committed to the Squeak community.


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Product Details

  • Series: Technology in Action
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1st Corrected ed. 2005. Corr. 2nd printing 2005 edition (January 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590594916
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590594919
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #467,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Trygve Reenskaug on July 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
I whole-heartedly recommend this book for introducing the novice to the nature of computing. I am giving a copy to my 14 year old grandson to introduce him to the fascinating world of programming. He lives 500 km away from me, so he will largely be on his own. I do not expect this to be a problem because the book is perfect for self study.

I want my grandson to learn the essence of computing without spending time on things that he will have to unlearn later or that prove to be blind alleys on his road to computer proficiency . This book is ideal for this purpose. It will let him experience the basic notions of computing in carefully graded steps. Each step tells him how to do fun experiments in the provided environment where he directs a robot/turtle to draw interesting patterns on the screen. The 22 steps take him from a simple sequence of commands to the creation of elaborate simulations; ending at the point where my grandson should start creating his own classes and subclasses.

The experiments are all done in Squeak, a dialect of Smalltalk. It could be argued that my grandson had better learn Java or some other mainstream language. I believe Smalltalk is a better choice because it is simpler, cleaner, and more immediate. The basic concepts are universal and my grandson can easily switch to some other language after he has mastered the fundamentals.

The book is written in a fluent, idiomatic English. It is written in the first person; the writer speaks directly to the reader. This writing style combined with the examples being concrete makes for the smooth communication of what are really abstract ideas.

Anybody wanting to understand more than e-mail and text processing could not do better than to install the free robotic environment on their computer and work through the book’s text and examples.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By brian d foy VINE VOICE on October 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book actually teaches computer programming, rather than teaching a computer programming language. It has to use something, and Smalltalk (Squeak) is gentle enough that it doesn't get in the way of the topic.

Stéphane Ducasse, a prolific writer about object-oriented programming, says in his preface: "The material for this book was originally developed by my wife, who is a physics and mathematics teacher in a French school where the students are between eleven and fifteen years old". Indeed, the pains taken to make object-oriented programming understandable to someone with no background are quite apparent, and they certainly pay off. The author has more than met his goal "to teach you object-oriented programming, because this paradigm provides an excellent metaphor for teaching programming".

Instead of teaching Smalltalk, the computer language he uses, he's actually teaching programming. Smalltalk, originally designed as a teaching language, has minimal syntatic issues and it very simple once the student knows a few basic rules. The reader of this book doesn't have to know much to start working though, since the author distributes a working Squeak environment that's ready to use. He's already provided a "Bot factory" and a working (virtual) robot to which the reader can send commands, much like the LOGO language and its turtle. Without getting caught in the details of object or class design, the readers start out simply by interacting with objects and sending them messages to control their behavior.

As the reader learns more about what the robot knows how to do, the author devises trickier problems for the reader to solve. These usually involve causing the robot to move in such a way as to draw out a pattern.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By W Boudville HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
The use of an Integrated Development Environment [IDE] for a user to learn a language in, and to then program within, is well known. Microsoft has made powerful IDEs for its languages. And the open source Eclipse can be used for Java. Along these lines, Ducasse offers his book. It teaches Smalltalk using the Squeak IDE.

The twist is that Squeak uses the visual metaphors of robots and robot factory, to convey the crucial concepts of objects/classes. As Ducasse explains, Squeak can be directed at an audience that is perhaps of high school age or even younger. So a clear visual feedback between example code and what the student sees then happen is vital, given her limited background and possibly limited attention span.

Squeak uses Smalltalk in part because that is a very minimalist language. If you come from C++, Java or C#, you may be struck by its simplicity, compared to the oodles of classes and notational intricacies of those languages. Which of course also makes it easier for a young student to learn Smalltalk or Squeak itself.

I wonder a little about the book itself, though. A motivated high school student could easily use it. But for some younger students? In that situation, it may well be that the book could be best directed at a teacher, who can then instruct from it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Bennett on October 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book uses Smalltalk to teach the basics of object oriented programming on Mac or PC. Before getting my hands on this book I have to say I was having trouble grasping the basics.

I personally bought the book as I want to learn Smalltalk. For some reason the "with Robots" in the title had me skip over this book for almost a year. Most, if not all the other Smalltalk books I got, although great, usually assume differing levels of pre-existing programming knowledge and experience and approach the teaching of Smalltalk skimming over the stuff that is a required foundation to *understand* it. Stephane Ducasse does an excellent job of explaining that missing foundational stuff. And he does it without getting too deep into Smalltalk or Squeak itself.

As others have pointed out this book is not really focussed on teaching Smalltalk - Smalltalk is the tool used to teach basic O-O programming. However, he's done an excellent job of doing both!!!

Having finished this book I'm writing basic programs - and finally understanding better the programs of others.
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