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Fourth Annual USENIX Tcl/Tk Workshop, 1996

Tcl/Tk in the Development of User-Extensible Graphical User Interfaces

John M. Skinner, Richard S. LaBarca, and Robert M. Sweet
Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA


This paper describes the use of Tcl/Tk in the development of user-extensible Graphical User Interfaces. We describe a GUI that provides two facilities, employing Tcl/Tk, that allow its users to extend the basic GUI at runtime. The first facility is a built-in mini Tcl/Tk GUI builder that gives users the ability to generate new screens that are automatically incorporated into the existing GUI. This is accomplished at runtime and does not require the user to write any code. A second feature allows for the incorporation, control, and access of data from, pre-existing Tcl/Tk screens without modification to the original source code of those screens. Program extensions accomplished with these facilities are integrated seamlessly into the original program, and are available immediately, as well as in subsequent executions of the program. In addition to the demonstration of a specific application of these methods, we will show that the techniques are transferable to other applications.

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