The Primer is just what is says; a book for those who want to learn how to build client applications in Smalltalk using IBM's VisualAge environment. While it assumes a working knowledge of the fundamentals of programming it assumes you know nothing about Smalltalk.
The object nature of the language leads to an interesting book structure in that it doesn't really have a beginning. You could just read it, but the sensible approach is to install VisualAge Smalltalk on your PC (it runs under Windows 3.1. 95. NT 3.51, NT 4, OS/2 and Unix) and use the book as a resource while working through example projects. The book is based entirely around code examples. These are designed to introduce Smalltalk basics in a practical rather than theoretical context. Fun stuff happens fast in Smalltalk.
While you get to build a Motif style GUI as an exercise there's also a lot of emphasis on database client applications, as you'd expect of anything from IBM. This is less fun but probably more relevant if you're planning to work commercially in Smalltalk. Overall, The VisualAge For Smalltalk Primer is excellent, taking you from novice to near expert using well documented working examples. Recommended. --Steve Patient
This book shows developers how to succeed with versions 3.0 and 4.0 of VisualAge. It covers helpful background information on the Smalltalk language, the common graphics subsystem, the common widget subsystems, and visual programming in VisualAge. It serves both as an introduction to the Smalltalk language and to the base classes of IBM Smalltalk.