Why is tcl broken?

Soren Dayton csdayton+usenet at cs.uchicago.edu
Fri Jun 18 00:39:43 CEST 1999

Greg Ewing <greg.ewing at compaq.com> writes:

> Fernando Mato Mira wrote:
> > 
> > I wanted to find out whether the disgust for tcl I've seen many people
> > express had some basis on some generally accepted principles.
> I think I can give some reasonably objective reasons why
> I find that I enjoy using Python in a way that I don't
> enjoy using Tcl. (I have used both, and in one case have
> written versions of the same program in both languages.)
> 1. Syntax
> Tcl's syntax is based on the principle that an unadorned
> sequence of alphanumeric characters represents a literal.
> Anything else (such as referring to a variable) requires
> extra syntax.
> Ousterhout's justification is that this is optimal
> for entering commands interactively, which is probably true.
> However, this seems to me the wrong thing to optimise for,
> given that tcl is meant to be a *programming* language.
> The case being optimised for -- typing in a command which
> is to be used once and thrown away -- simply doesn't occur.
> Programs, even tiny ones, get used more than once!

but it occurs to me that this is a GOOD argument for the best uses of
tcl, that is as an interactive style shell or scriptable configuration
file language. 

tcl _IS_ too annoying to do real programming in, but it is not clear
that it is not _by far_ the best tool for this kind of niche use.  (Yes, 
I've heard about guile, but frankly, tcl looks like my ipfilter
configuration files and we are _NOT_ after expressibility here but a
sort of clarity)


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