Mark R.D. Jones

DabbleDB continues

Update edit, March 17, 2011:
Smallthought Systems, the creator of DabbleDB, announced the closing of the the online database application DabbleDB on March 17, 2011, and an end-of-service date of May 18, 2011. The shutdown occurs about eleven months after Twitter purchased Smallthought Systems, Inc.

Background on the founders and development of DabbleDB and other Smallthought Systems applications:
Avi Bryant’s Presentations
A few of DabbleDB’s foundations

The DabbleDB blog continues to be online
and the documentation at “” can still be found via

Update edit on December 3, 2011:
The user forum finally went dark in November 2011.

June 11, 2010
I have been an enthusiastic user of Smallthought Systems’ DabbleDB, as an outstandingly-implemented online web-database, suitable for wide use by non-programmers. I had a number of clients using it. I became active on the DabbleDB user-forum to better describe for myself and for my clients the actual limits of DabbleDB and what it can and cannot do. Here’s the video demo: I admit that DabbleDB inspired me to learn and use Smalltalk and Seaside.

For the time being, I’m sanguine about Twitter’s purchase of Smallthought Systems, and the future of DabbleDB. Twitter wants the brains of the Smallthought team for analytics apparently. See Twitter’s blog post describing the purchase. Smallthought Systems co-founder Andrew Catton has via the DabbleDB forum stated the intention to keep operating for the near-term, and emphasized that a shut-down clock was not running, merely, not accepting new accounts, and committing to 60 days notice, when and if a significant change arrives. That’s fair, given the circumstances they put themselves into. They could have simply closed the project down.

The founders put five years into DabbleDB, and it’s a viable platform, and I’m sure they don’t want it to die. I speculate it has sufficient revenue to sustain operations with a healthy surplus at this point–so I think it is valuable to some interested party. I think they need only to find a home with a team of Smalltalk, Seaside, JavaScript, developers, and the financial backing to finance it.

Separately, perhaps the software, as distinguished from the online service, could be an item of interest for a non-operating company like Gemstone, with their enterprise-level Smalltalk-based object-oriented data and server technology. Gemstone was acquired by by VMWare’s SpringSource division in May, 2010; perhaps it might be a good fit to market DabbleDB as installable software that would increase demand for their database backend. See:

I’m sure there are others that would like to take DabbleDB forward.

I was, prior to the acquisition of Smallthought Systems, Inc. by Twitter, working on writing a comprehensive set of the “missing” DabbleDB documentation. That project was suspended pending a commitment that DabbleDB would continue to be maintained and offered. For those who care, my scattered advice and documentation can be found on the DabbleDB user forum, via the user “Redtexture“; a selection of my more significant and popular posts used to be found at the DabbleDB Frequently Asked Questions sub-forum, before it went dark.


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