Media praise for Tcl/Tk Tools

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"This book is a must-read for anyone interested in writing TCL/TK programs." --W. Hu, Computing Reviews, August 1998

"Buy this book.

I don't write that lightly. I've been wearing out its pages for two weeks now, with occasional bouts of fur- rowed brows and impatient snorting. I've come, though, to a conclusion in which I'm confident: if you're read- ing comp.lang.tcl, you should invest in this book.

"Why? Because you'll use it, and use it well. Almost everyone involved in Tcl has questions (so how do I really compile a Tcl script? How much does it take to do drag-and-drop and tool tips? Are the RDBMS exten- sions current with vendor features? ...) answered here. Simplify your life by putting these 650+ pages on your shelf.

"What is *Tcl/Tk Tools*? It's a collection of descrip- tions of different popular extensions to Tcl and Tk. While lead author Harrison gives the impression they're written by 'the extension authors themselves', there are a few exceptions to this pattern. The book is not written as a tutorial or introduction to Tcl, sagely pointing to John Ousterhout and Brent Welch's books for that role (although I've been thinking of experimenting with putting *Tcl/Tk Tools* in the hands of novices, to see what would happen. I suspect they'd survive in good shape).

"Harrison and his co-authors do a good job of hitting the target of telling 'Here's the philosophy behind this package, and here are some examples of how to use it effectively' that he lays out in the Preface. While it's easy to move from one chapter to another, it's not at the expense of the authors and their personalities. D. Richard Hipp's thoughtful preci- sion and De Clarke's care in engineering effective solutions come through, as do the assurance and lucidity we expect of Don Libes. Less successful is the forward look that Harrison intended, toward 'the plans the extension authors had for future enhancements and extensions.' I assume this was in part a casualty of the realities of the publishing cycle; cer- tainly many of the chapters appear to have been finished before the appearance a year ago of 7.6's betas.

"Two unglamorous aspects of the book multiply its value: the index is sound (that's saying a lot for me; I have high standards in indexing), and Harrison's Chapter 17 on what he calls 'Con- figuration Management' lays out much valuable wisdom that newcomers need to learn. Reading the latter is painful: it has all the important, hard subjects ('Combining Extensions ...', command-line munging, ...) one wants--but without men- tion of Win* or loadable libraries! These frailties are inevitable when broadcasting on dead trees, of course. What's disappointing is that *Tcl/Tk Tools* doesn't go farther in joining the Internet Age: although a two-page Appendix lauds c.l.t and lists the FAQs and nine URLs (some of which have al- ready moved, of course), and individual authors take it on themselves to provide appropriate references, * it's not apparent that there is any page where Harrison and/or O'Reilly maintain errata, updates, new examples, funny animal GIFs, or any of the other resources readers might be expected to exploit--I couldn't find one at the URL the Preface gave, nor elsewhere at www.ora.com; * some authors supply no e-mail addresses; * some authors give references ('look in the archives') that will be inscrutable for those not already in the know; and * there is wide variation in the quality of information authors give about extension prospects, bug lists (a particular sore point with me), mailing lists, and so on.

"Understand, please, that I'm not labeling these moral faults; as on every project, the good engineering comes in deciding where to make the cuts, and what definite values to deliver. I personally look forward to seeing books that build a more dynamic relationship with online sources, and am simply noting that *Tcl/ Tk Tools* doesn't achieve that standard.

"The quality of production is high, higher even than the ele- vated expectations I have of O'Reilly. Typos, mistakes in word choice, and code errors seem to sum to around zero to five per chapter. Screen shots are judicious and illuminating, rather than gratuitously space-filling. The CD-ROM (with binaries for indeterminate but predictable releases of Solaris and Linux) does the little I asked of it.

"Summary: whether you're a full-time Tcl-er or a greenhorn, you'll profit from having *Tcl/Tk Tools* at hand. Whenever you're in a pinch, there's a fair chance the Index and/or Table of Contents will quickly lead you to a useful datum. During more contempla- tive moments, you'll want to read the chapters in a connected fashion, and the accuracy and insight of the authors will make you glad that you do.

--Book Review, Newsgroup: comp.lang.tcl