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Two Years with TkMan: Lessons and Innovations
Or, Everything I Needed to Know about Tcl/Tk I Learned from TkMan

Thomas A. Phelps
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Computer Science Division
University of California, Berkeley


Among Tcl/Tk applications, TkMan is unusual. Whereas Tcl was written to glue together C functions, TkMan is written entirely in Tcl. And TkMan is the beneficiary of years of battle testing by 1000s of users on every flavor of UNIX. The extreme position created by the demands of this large, diverse audience and the (self-imposed) limitation of remaining strictly within Tcl brought to the fore a severe set of implementation issues, and provoked a variety of solutions ranging from general methods to a low-level bag of tricks with regard to speeding up Tcl scripts, exploiting Tcl as its own scripting language, configuring applications and interoperating with other tools. Although developed to meet these particular, extreme requirements, most of the resulting solutions can be broadly applied, and this paper shares this lore with the aim of helping other authors develop elegant, efficient and robust Tcl/Tk-based applications.

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