Cameron Laird's personal notes on Tcl books
2005 update: while I'm happy for anyone who finds this useful, I've
moved most of my Tcl comments to the
here, in particular,
is where I recommend readers with an interest in Tcl books start.
Table of Contents:
and the Tk Toolkit is what I most often recommend.
Some people specifically avoid it because it refers to software
versions that are now so far out of date (Tk 3.6); this appears
to be a
particular difficulty for those binding Tk and C together, because
that's the interface whose simplest elements have most changed.
Why do I favor it, then? It's a "clean" book, one that is
utterly straightforward with the reader, and simply the classic
on the motivations and potentials of Tcl.
Phil Ehrens confirms this judgment in his
Expect is about the
Expect extension to Tcl,
and not strictly about Tcl itself, it's wise and well-written.
It introduces Tcl entertainingly. Many Tcl workers have bookshelves
with no Tcl book except Exploring Expect.
Clif does a good job
For Real Programmers.
for Web Nerds is, among other things, a compact
but complete on-line introduction to Tcl as a language.
As of October 1999, it's also rather buggy--there are factual
errors which presumably will be worked out someday. More
permanent is the attitude that Tcl poorly imitates LISP.
December 1999 update: PhilG has been fixing it. More details, soon.
Programming ... has a lot of
fans; I'm among them. It certainly refers to
more recent versions (the second edition is nearly current
with Tcl 8.0) than Ousterhout's book.
The problem with Practical Programming is that
it's written for Unixoids like me, and the examples are too
big; it overpowers newcomers, and is unsuitable as a tutorial
for many neophytes.
Applications with Tcl and Tk appeared in 1996, and
applies to Tcl 7.5 and Tk4.1. The second edition is current
through 8.0b2. This book is the most diligent
in stepping readers through everything they need for
their applications to work; it details all the background--about
windowing managers, storage formats, operating systems,
compilers, and more--that
other books assume. The examples are more schematic than
those in ... Effective ....
The first book to mention 8.0 features was
Developer's Resource: Web Programming Using Tcl and Perl,
J. M. Ivler.
In a special category is the
Reference Manual, an indexed hard-copy rendition
of the on-line manual pages for Tcl7.5 (is this the
just made it into distribution at the end of September
1997. I posted my first
review of it two weeks later.
As I continue to use it, I'm feeling more and more keenly
the absence of an online nexus for updates--particularly
to cover features which the profiled extensions picked up
in the many months since the text was written. Also, I
want to make completely clear that the book simply is not
current with 8.0.
Tcl/Tk Tools would benefit from a more detailed
table of contents, perhaps implemented as outlines at the
beginning of each chapter.
Effective Tcl ...,
commented on his review.
Sean McGrath wrote a delightfully wise
for Dr. Dobbs Journal which features Effective
Tcl ... prominently. Jason Bennett does his
treatment for SlashDot.
Chris Nelson and
later called attention to the exposition of networking in Chapter 7,
and other comp.lang.tcl posters have often recommended it since.
Although I haven't read it,
George A. Howlett, whom I know to be reliable, writes
For those just starting with Tcl/Tk, I really like
Tcl/TK for Dummies.
Others, though, have told me the book has a high density of technical
errors. I haven't yet seen it for myself.
Christopher Nelson's Tcl/Tk
Programmer's Reference is the Tcl book on my
desk most often. I explain why in a
review for Amazon.
I really like what I've seen of
Network Management Tools With Tcl. Co-author Gerard
explains the book in a
about it for Amazon.
Applications with Tcl/Tk
[AW, Macmillan, ORA, Web Complete, ... Explain.]
One curious fact about Tcl is that it's introduced capably in a number
of books--the Expect book, Rose and McLoghrie, ... [finish explanation]
I index other references elsewhere.
The best single site for information on Tcl books used to be Larry
FAQ. Start there.
As 1998 begins, the
has begun an initiative
to maintain a
bibliography of books which
mention Tcl. The Consortium welcomes volunteers for any
part of these efforts, by the way.
is doing much the same.
Laird's personal notes on Tcl