Cameron Laird's personal notes on commercial aspects of Tcl


When I began this document in 1995, it was far more urgent than it is now in 2000, as I write this preface. By 1998, industry reaction to Tcl was not so swiftly and uniformly dismissive, and so it became less compelling to maintain the list below. I now update this page only a handful of times annually.

Table of contents

Introduction to commercial Tcl

Tcl is meant to be used commercially. Dr. Ousterhout has repeatedly made this clear; for example, in article <4sdrd8$6qp@engnews2.Eng.Sun.COM> of mid-July 96, he wrote
Anyhow, the intent is not to restrict usage in any way by anyone. The only reason for the copyright notices in the first place is to prevent anyone else from claiming ownership and thereby restricting usage. Please feel free to use and redistribute Tcl and Tk without concern.
Thus, not only are there sound engineering reasons to use Tcl, but it's legal.

What this document is

Consider these three categories of commercial application built on a Tcl base: This document, whose home is, aims to cover the second of these three categories. Early in its history, it seemed possible to catalogue all products known to be based on Tcl. The number now appears to be at least many thousands, and so the current ambition of this document is illustrative, not comprehensive. Sun's Tcl Evangelist Brent Welch covers some of the same territory in his vendors page.

A related but distinct category is that of mission-critical applications built on Tcl. Some of these appeared in this index at one time, but their natural home is elsewhere.

An issue for some organizations is commercial support at a service level--training, development consulting, the world-wide pool of employable Tcl practitioners (which Dr. Ousterhout estimated in the several hundreds of thousands, in article <54h5bu$luu@engnews2.Eng.Sun.COM>) ...--for a particular language. This document focuses only on products, though.

The products

Special mention: clusters of commercial products

Commercial developers have turned to Tcl repeatedly in a few domains:

Products based on Expect

Don Libes devotes one section of his inspiring book to spotlighting organizations which rely on Expect technology:
3Com does software quality assurance with Expect. Silicon Graphics uses it to do network measurements such as echo response time using telnet. The World Bank uses it to automate file transfers and updates. IBM uses it as part of a tape backup production environment. HP uses it to automate queries to multiple heterogeneous commercial online databases. Sun uses it to sweep across their in-house network testing computer security. Martin Marietta uses it to control and extract usage statistics from network routers. . . . [A dozen more] . . . The whole list is truly astonishing, and it continues to grow rapidly.
Some Expect-based products have gone commercial, including DejaGnu, ...


Folks who engineer electronic circuits often use Tcl, sometimes without realizing it. Among the products in electronic design automation relying on Tcl are ones from Cadence, National Semiconductor, Mentor Graphics, ... [much more to explain. later] The interesting DMH package doesn't do EDA, but rather plays a role in fabrication.


Tcl has an exceptionally distinguished pedigree in testing. Among the market-leading organizations which operate in this domain are: [Lots of explanation here.]


VMD, ...

A list of products

Brent Welch has collected a list of industrial and research applications of Tcl. Larry Virden and I have spotted several other Tcl-based products:

Consultancies specialing in Tcl

Each of these offers at least one visible product:
Cameron Laird's notes on commercial aspects of Tcl/