Saturday, August 27, 2011

Languages and Letters

In looking up something John Ousterhout had written, I noticed with surprise that his home page is

The last three letters were the source of the surprise, for long ago Ousterhout developed the scripting language Tcl (tool-command language), which serves decently enough for web development. Or it served so anyway, for the last updates to AOLServer happened in 2010, and to Apache mod_tcl in 2003. There doesn't seem to be much talk about either of them lately, for the first page on a Google query for either retrieves postings from years ago. There may not be many patches, either, if somebody comes up with a zero-day exploit.

Tcl has its maddening aspects; with a bit of searching one can find Richard Stallman's diatribe against it. It has in its favor that it was built to be readily extensible. I learned it first because "expect" was built on top of it, a tremendously useful tool for some system administration tasks. I've used it via Tk (Toolkit, a handy tool for setting up graphical user interfaces), "oratcl" for running jobs under control of the Oracle "intelligent agent", and then with AOLserver. And I didn't know how much I liked its "upvar" until I looked without success for an equivalent in PHP.

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