Why is tcl broken?

Cameron Laird claird at Starbase.NeoSoft.COM
Thu Jun 10 09:57:35 EDT 1999

In article <4.1.19990610150908.00d09790 at exchsrv>,
Fernando Mato Mira  <matomira at iname.com> wrote:
>A `TCLer'  here is going to give a talk presenting the virtues of
>tcl to the rest of the organization. As a hard-core lisper, it is obvious
>to me that the core philosophical basis of the `New Jersey school' (i.e. the
>whole idea of scripting languages) is broken, and obviously the syntax
>is tasteless to me. But I'm looking for irrefutable signs of bad language
Oh, so *that*'s your point.  Well, RMS has
already said it all--in fact, more than all,
'cause some of his claims are inaccurate.
Myself, I see Tcl and LISP as more alike
than different, but I gather that's not what
you're after so much as <URL:
>design that result in low maintenability. For example, dynamic scoping,
>ambiguities, etc. Things like the `string issue' are also interesting if they
>can be exposed in a way that the answer is not "So what?".
So I take it you're going to end up arguing
for Eiffel in favor of Scheme?

I'll ask a better question:  is maintainability
to you a philosophically-accessible dimension?
Are you involved in an academic or "practical"
inquiry?  I respect both, but I find your ap-
proach ambiguous.  As a practical engineering
matter, I find the distinctions you highlight
are lost in comparison to larger organizational
and architectural issues.  Concretely, Tcl's
characteristics are not absolutely bad, only
(potentially so) in relation to the work
practices of your organization.

If you seriously want to debate syntax and
semantics in academic abstraction ... well, at
least we need to know that.
>I'm not putting in question the virtues of Tk, as you can access that
>through STk, for example. But if there are bad things there, I'd like
>to know, too. (eg: is there a lot of tcl code making a Tk interface run?
Approximately 0.46 of a lot, yes.
>If so, does speed ever become an issue? I assume that Tk works well
Rarely.  Much less often than the uninitiated
>enough that you'd never have to look at the tcl code, and live happily
>inside your reflective Scheme world)
Some TkSchemers do.  Some don't.  It depends.
Be careful with your audience to make clear
*which* "whole idea of scripting languages"
you disfavor.  The hazard is that they'll
turn on Scheme.

Cameron Laird           http://starbase.neosoft.com/~claird/home.html
claird at NeoSoft.com      +1 281 996 8546 FAX

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