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dolphinsmalltalk / Dolphin

Licence: mit
Dolphin Smalltalk Core Image

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Please note: The master branch is now the development branch for version 7.2. This will add support for namespaces, but is currently in an interim and unstable state. It also changes the package and class file formats, and consequently code saved from 7.2 cannot be loaded directly into earlier versions of Dolphin. Please use the release/7.1 branch if you need a stable version. PRs for bug fixes, etc, will still be accepted against the release/7.1 branch for the foreseeable future.

This repository contains:

  • A VS2019 solution to build the Virtual Machine (VM) elements of Dolphin Smalltalk.
  • The necessary Smalltalk packages to build the Dolphin Smalltalk Core Images from a pre-built boot image.

Building the Virtual Machine

It is not necessary to build the VM, since pre-built binaries are available for download from github using the FetchVM script in the repo. You can skip straight to building the product image if you wish.

  • First clone the Dolphin repo to a \Dolphin directory on your machine. It can actually be any location but for convenience we'll call it \Dolphin. Use a Git client tool to clone. Downloading the ZIP file won't work due to use of Git LFS.

  • Versions prior to 7.1: You should also clone the separate VM repository (DolphinVM) into a DolphinVM\ subdirectory of \Dolphin\Core\.

  • Version 7.1 and later: The DolphinVM repository has been merged into the main Dolphin repository and can be found in the Core\DolphinVM folder. The history from the original repository has been retained.

  • Install the free VS2019 Community Edition on your machine with the "Desktop development with C++" workload. The Dolphin VM is a set of C++ projects so make sure to install this option (it's not the default) or you'll end up only being able to compile C#. You can use the Pro or Enterprise edition if you have it. It is possible to compile the VM with earlier versions of VS (certainly VS2017) but you will need to downgrade the solution to the appropriate toolset and either retarget to the ealier Windows SDK that shipped with VS, or install the latest SDK standalone.

  • Load the DolphinVM solution into Visual Studio. Choose the Release profile (Debug will compile but will run slowly) and then Build Solution. A bunch of DLLs and Dolphin7.exe will have been copied to the \Dolphin root folder.

Building the Dolphin 7 Product Image

Follow these instructions to create the product image and launch Dolphin Smalltalk for the first time.

  • First clone the Dolphin repository (this one) into a suitable working directory on your machine, let's call it \Dolphin. Any supported version of Windows should be suitable, and at the moment that means Windows 10. Dolphin may run on older Windows versions, but there should be no expectation that it will, or will continue to do so.

  • The master branch is on the bleeding edge and current is in an unstable state while version 7.2 is in development, although the tests should always be passing. If you need a stable build then you should use the release/7.1 branch.

  • Next you will need to build the binaries as described above, or fetch the VM binaries. For convenience a batch file, FetchVM.CMD is supplied that will determine the correct VM version and invoke the helper PowerShell script FetchVM.ps1 to download it. If you want to download an alternative VM (which is not usually recommended) then this can be done by invoking FetchVM.ps1 with a parameter..

  • Before proceeding you will also need to pull the boot image from github large file storage. To do this execute git lfs pull.

  • If you do not have a Visual Studio 2019 installed on your machine, then depending on what other software you have you may also need to install the VC++ runtime distribution, specifically This is required by the VM. If Dolphin fails to start, try installing this first.

  • In the root folder of the repo you will find the BootDPRO.cmd script and a small boot image, DBOOT.img7. Double-click BootDPRO.cmd or run it from a console window. The boot process takes a minute or two to load all the Smalltalk code, and when completed you should see a DPRO.img7 file in your directory. IMG7 is the image extension for Dolphin 7, and DPRO stands for Dolphin Professional.

  • Should you wish to test your booted image before proceeding with your own changes or work, you may want to run the standard regression test suite. This is recommended, and easy to do. Just run the TestDPRO.cmd script in the root folder. This will launch Dolphin, load the tests, and then execute them. As it runs you will see results being reported as console output. The complete test run should take no more than a couple of minutes. When complete a summary will state whether there were any failures. You should expect there to be none, but check the AppVeyor build to see the current build status.

  • To launch the image you can right click on DPRO.img7 and choose Open With, selecting Dolphin7.exe as the executable to be permanently associated with this file type.

You should see Dolphin Professional 7 launch successfully. You can now continue with the Dolphin Getting Started introduction if you wish.

Dolphin System Folder

Contributing to Dolphin

If you want to submit changes, you will need to create your own fork and clone that instead. You will not be able to push directly to the main Dolphin repo.

No further changes will (normally) be accepted into the DolphinVM repo for versions of Dolphin from 7.1, although it remains open for bug fixes to 7.0. If you wish to contribute to the 7.1 VM, please make and commit your VM changes in this main Dolphin repo and submit a PR here. PRs can contain synchronized changes to both the VM and the image, and the PR validation build will exercise both.

Any contributions are welcome, but are expected to be of a very high standard. You are more likely to have your contribution accepted unchanged if you follow these rules:

  • PRs should be associated with an pre-existing issue. In other words, create a github issue describing your bug or proposed improvement first. This allows the merits of the change to be discussed and should save wasted time preparing a PR that is rejected because the change is not agreed on principle.
  • Source code should follow good Smalltalk style principles and designs should be simple and clear. The existing image is full of many examples of good practice.
  • Source must be formatted using the standard in-image code formatter for consistency.
  • Changes should be accompanied by tests that cover the mainstream scenario and boundary conditions. This applies even if there are no existing tests. Exceptions are unlikely to be made to this rule.

Releasing a new version of Dolphin

If sufficient changes have been made to the VM or image such that a new release is warranted, you can push a new tag of the form v.7.x.y (eg: v7.0.42). When the tag is eventually pushed to the GitHub master branch (by a maintainer) this will trigger AppVeyor to build and generate a new Release. Each release consists of the full set of VM binaries wrapped up as a zip called, and associated PDBs (native debug information for the binaries). The FetchVM script will automatically download the correct set of binaries associated with the latest tag at which the repository is checked out. The release build does also build a setup .exe, but this is not maintained so it may not function correctly.

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