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Tcl/Tk and Expect Books

Expect

Exploring Expect A Tcl-Based Toolkit for Automating Interactive Programs (Nutshell Handbook)  by Don Libes

Steve Wainstead
 A completely different tool July 17, 2000

Expect is completely unlike any other tool I have ever used. Think of any language you've used and how long it would take to: write a program that can update 1000 user passwords on 20 different machines; make two chess programs play each other; connect two users to the same shell program and type at the same time; allow you to rewrite the command arguments to any command line tool?

Expect really does make all these things trivial. It takes a lot of patience to master this tool though; Tcl is a very unforgiving and terse language. I've done things in Expect that I never thought were possible: I scripted Minicom (a modem term program that uses ncurses) to answer a phone after 7 seconds, and either: receive a zmodem file or send a login prompt. Then hang up the modem and wait again. Try that in a shell or systems language!

It's unfortunate that Expect is such a radically different beast and takes so long to understand; every person running regression tests or doing systems administration will benefit from this book. While it may not be great for just "looking up" things, search Usenet for all of the author's posts (comp.lang.tcl) and his answer is almost always, "This is on page XXX of the book." Because the book really does cover everything Expect does!

Scott Truesdell (see more about me) from Costa Mesa, CA USA

5 out of 5 stars Good examples, good index, good explanations, May 20, 1998

This book, along with Ousterhout and Sun's references on the www, comprise the triolgy that is jump-starting my learning tcl. I find the index compete and easy to use and I frequently jump all around the book gleaning little nuggets of information. I am also concurrently reading it cover-to-cover because I like Libes's style -- the way he throws in his programming phylosophy with his examples so you can see why he's doing something a certain way.

I like how the author addresses issues of portability without obsessing on it.

I really like the Exercises at the end of each chapter. I only wish the author would apply a difficulty rating to each exercise because sometimes I can't tell if an exercise is intrinsically very difficult (some are definitely so) or if I need to review parts of the chapter to see why I can't just instantly 'get it.' In any event, the exercises are stimulating and would require a long time and careful thought to do them all. I would buy a book that had the answers, with commentary, to all the exercises.

 

Reviewer: Ruslan Moskalenko (see more about me) from Lafayette, CA United States

5 out of 5 stars No alternatives, December 29, 2000

When I discovered Perl I though it's a quick and dirty way to automate admin tasks. I was wrong.

The really quick and dirty way is Expect. Expect works like Helpdesk hotline. You call them and they ask you what you see and tell you what you should type. Sometimes you just have no alternatives especially if you're short on time. But the language is pretty tricky (e.g. if you want to look for '$' in regexp, you should use '\\\$' pattern, etc) and I couldn't learn it using just examples included in the distribution package. Then I spent some time searching for the good tutorial and this book was the best I found. Expect is surprisingly poorly documented and I didn't find any other books about it. There are some articles in the Internet, but usually they don't give you the whole picture. This book includes many examples, easy stuff in the beginning to get you started and very advanced in the end. That's everything you need to learn expect and it's written pretty friendly. In some places it's very informal but not too much.

 

tanya_tibb@yahoo.com from Cupertino, CA

5 out of 5 stars Wish all books were this well-written, April 14, 2000

This book is terrific. Libes writes very smoothly. Everything is answered and just at the right time - whenever I was wondering about a point, I would turn the page and find my question to be the next topic covered!

I really thought Expect was a simple-minded thing. Then I had a question about how to do something. I was bemoaning my problem one day when a coworker thrust this book into my hand and said "Read it!" Wow - not only did it have my exact scenario as an example but now I see Expect can do so many more cool things. I originally thought Expect was just good for telnet. But Libes shows examples applying it to all sorts of other programs. The breadth of the examples alone is incredible. It's obvious that Libes has really been around and poured all his wisdom and experience into this book.

I also liked the special command and variable index (the book calls it "Appendix") which is a 2nd index that takes you directly to where each command and option and variable is definitively described. There is also a third index of just the examples - some of them are useful in their own right (apart from demonstrating some concept). Between these and the regular index, it is always easy to find things later.

I wish all tech books were written this well.  

wolfega from Cincinnati, OH

5 out of 5 stars Your only alternative, buy it...., November 22, 2002

This is one of the worst books, written about one of the worst programming languages. The information is scattered and difficult to harvest. Understanding this book and writing code in Expect is a huge headache.

However, if you don't buy the book, forget about ever writing reasonably complex programs in Expect.

I rated the book five stars because, while not a good book by any standard, it is infinitely better than having no reference at all (which is perhaps why it is so difficult to find information about Expect on the web). It's well worth the [money], but expect to spend some time learning about Expect.

**** Tcl/Tk for Real Programmers ~ Usually ships in 2-3 days

Clif Flynt / Paperback / Published 1998
Amazon price: $29.97 ~ You Save: $19.98 (40%)

**** Building Network Management Tools With Tcl/Tk (Prentice Hall Series in Computer Networking and Distributed Systems)

Dave Zeltserman, Gerard Puoplo / Hardcover / Published 1998
Amazon price: $50.00

*** Tcl/Tk Tools

Mark Harrison, et al / Paperback / Published 1997
Amazon price: $39.96 ~ You Save: $9.99 (20%)

 

The Complete Tcl/Tk Training Course

Brent B. Welch, Dave Zeltserman / Paperback / Published 1998
Amazon price: $79.99 ~ You Save: $20.00 (20%)

Effective Tcl/Tk Programming : Writing Better Programs in Tcl and Tk (Addison-Wesley Professional Computing Series) 

Mark Harrison, Michael J. McLennan / Paperback / Published 1997
Amazon price: $39.95

Graphical Applications With Tcl and Tk

Eric Foster-Johnson, Johnson Eric Foster / Paperback / Published 1997
Amazon price: $31.96 ~ You Save: $7.99 (20%)

Interactive Web Applications With Tcl/Tk

Hattie Schroeder, et al / Paperback / Published 1998
Amazon price: $31.96 ~ You Save: $7.99 (20%)

Practical Programming in Tcl & Tk

Brent B. Welch / Paperback / Published 1997
Amazon price: $42.00

Tcl and the Tk Toolkit (Addison-Wesley Professional Computing)

John K. Ousterhout / Paperback / Published 1994
Amazon price: $44.95

 


 

**** Building Network Management Tools With Tcl/Tk (Prentice Hall Series in Computer Networking and Distributed Systems)  Dave Zeltserman, Gerard Puoplo

 / Hardcover / Published 1998
Amazon price: $50.00

**** Tcl/Tk Tools

Mark Harrison, et al / Paperback / Published 1997
Amazon price: $39.96 ~ You Save: $9.99 (20%)

The Complete Tcl/Tk Training Course  

Brent B. Welch, Dave Zeltserman / Paperback / Published 1998
Amazon price: $79.99 ~ You Save: $20.00 (20%)

Effective Tcl/Tk Programming : Writing Better Programs in Tcl and Tk (Addison-Wesley Professional Computing Series) 

Mark Harrison, Michael J. McLennan / Paperback / Published 1997
Amazon price: $39.95

Graphical Applications With Tcl and Tk

Eric Foster-Johnson, Johnson Eric Foster / Paperback / Published 1997
Amazon price: $31.96 ~ You Save: $7.99 (20%)

Interactive Web Applications With Tcl/Tk

Hattie Schroeder, et al / Paperback / Published 1998
Amazon price: $31.96 ~ You Save: $7.99 (20%)

Practical Programming in Tcl & Tk

Brent B. Welch / Paperback / Published 1997
Amazon price: $42.00

Tcl and the Tk Toolkit (Addison-Wesley Professional Computing)

John K. Ousterhout / Paperback / Published 1994
Amazon price: $44.95

Tcl/Tk for Dummies (For Dummies)

Tim Webster, et al / Paperback / Published 1997
Amazon price: $23.99 ~ You Save: $6.00 (20%)

Tcl/Tk for Programmers With Solved Exercises That Work With Unix and Windows 

J. A. Zimmer / Paperback / Published 1998
Amazon price: $45.00

Tcl/Tk for Real Programmers ~ Usually ships in 2-3 days

Clif Flynt / Paperback / Published 1998
Amazon price: $29.97 ~ You Save: $19.98 (40%)

Tcl/Tk in a Nutshell : A Desktop Quick Reference (Nutshell Handbook)

Paul Raines, et al / Paperback / Published 1999
Amazon price: $19.96 ~ You Save: $4.99 (20%)

Tcl/Tk Pocket Reference

Paul Raines / Paperback / Published 1998
Amazon price: $6.36 ~ You Save: $1.59 (20%)

Web Development With Tcl/Tk 8.1 : A Complete Resource for Programmers and Developers

Steve Holzner, Steven Holzner / Paperback / Published 1999
Amazon price: $35.99 ~ You Save: $9.00 (20%)

Tcl Reference and Tk Reference

Paperback / Published 1996
Amazon price: $4.50 + $2.35 special surcharge (Special Order)

Tcl/Tk for Real Programmers

Clif Flynt / CD-ROM / Published 1998
Amazon price: $1.95 (Back Ordered)

Tcl/Tk Programmer's Reference (Programmer's Reference Series)

Chris Nelson / Paperback / Published 1999
Amazon price: $13.59 ~ You Save: $3.40 (20%) (Not Yet Published -- On Order)

Tcl/Tk Tutorial Scripting

Gerald Lester / Paperback / Published 1999
Amazon price: $36.00 ~ You Save: $9.00 (20%) (Not Yet Published -- On Order)

Tcl/Tk Unleashed (Unleashed)

Red Hat Press / Paperback / Published 1999
Amazon price: $39.99 ~ You Save: $10.00 (20%) (Not Yet Published)

Tcl/Tk for Dummies (For Dummies)

Tim Webster, et al / Paperback / Published 1997
Amazon price: $23.99 ~ You Save: $6.00 (20%)

Tcl/Tk for Programmers With Solved Exercises That Work With Unix and Windows 

J. A. Zimmer / Paperback / Published 1998
Amazon price: $45.00

Tcl/Tk for Real Programmers ~ Usually ships in 2-3 days

Clif Flynt / Paperback / Published 1998
Amazon price: $29.97 ~ You Save: $19.98 (40%)

Tcl/Tk in a Nutshell : A Desktop Quick Reference (Nutshell Handbook)

Paul Raines, et al / Paperback / Published 1999
Amazon price: $19.96 ~ You Save: $4.99 (20%)

Tcl/Tk Pocket Reference

Paul Raines / Paperback / Published 1998
Amazon price: $6.36 ~ You Save: $1.59 (20%)

Web Development With Tcl/Tk 8.1 : A Complete Resource for Programmers and Developers

Steve Holzner, Steven Holzner / Paperback / Published 1999
Amazon price: $35.99 ~ You Save: $9.00 (20%)

Tcl Reference and Tk Reference

Paperback / Published 1996
Amazon price: $4.50 + $2.35 special surcharge r)

 

Tcl/Tk for Real Programmers

Clif Flynt / CD-ROM / Published 1998
Amazon price: $1.95

Tcl/Tk Programmer's Reference (Programmer's Reference Series)

Chris Nelson / Paperback / Published 1999
Amazon price: $13.59 ~ You Save: $3.40 (20%)

 

Tcl/Tk Tutorial Scripting

Gerald Lester / Paperback / Published 1999
Amazon price: $36.00 ~ You Save: $9.00 (20%)

 

Tcl/Tk Unleashed (Unleashed)

Red Hat Press / Paperback / Published 1999
Amazon price: $39.99 ~ You Save: $10.00 (20%)

 


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