posted by David Welton on Mon 10th Mar 2003 21:42 UTC

"Tcl/Tk Interview, Part 3"

What are you working on personally?

Jeff: As one of the few people fortunate enough to work on Tcl full time, this changes a lot. Currently it is reviving the Tcl/Tk web browser plugin [*], updating the ActiveState GUI Builder, and adding more tools to the Tcl Dev Kit. Did you really mean, like in my "off" time? Well, I don't see much of that, and when I do, it's on related things like TEA2, TclX, tktable, and other extensions not yet public.

Donal: In Tcl, several TIP implementations. In real work, Resource Brokering on the Global Grid.

Andreas: I interpret this as what I am working on my free/spare time, and not doing for ActiveState.

Too many things are in front of my eyes.

Near term:

Convert the core functionality currently embodied in mpexpand [*] (see tcllib/doctools) into a true package, so that doctools can be used not only in and by tcllib, but in other applications as well. For example as part of an embedded help system.

Write two TIPs, one about extended channel driver initialization, the other about a Tcl Messaging Service. The former to have a general solution to the bug encountered when transferring sockets between threads. The latter to get a generic framework which does for message/packet based communication what the Channel system of Tcl does for stream-based communication.

Finalize Img 1.3.

Farther future: Create TEA 2 build systems for TLS [*], and hopefully Expect [*] too. Collect a script library for Trf [*]. Refactor that extension like Img, i.e several smaller packages. Get TrfCrypt into SourceForge too, under the wings of Trf (tcltrf at SF).

See Play with the code to see how far we can get with decompiling.

Play more with the Scripted Compiler stuff I have started on the Wiki.

What kinds of work have you done in the past (and maybe still maintain)?

Andreas: Memchan [*], Trf, a number things for Tcllib [*]. For ActiveState I am revamping the tools in the TclPro suite (now Tcl Dev Kit).

Mark: Pretty much all of my current coding energy is devoted to my day job.

Donal: API design. Programming. Writing papers, presentations, posters, etc.

Are you paid to work on it (does your work include working on Tcl)?

Donal: I'm not paid to work on Tcl. Wish I was.

Jeff: 100% Tcl minus time spent managing Tcl-related things at ActiveState.

Andreas: Yes. S.a. I am employed by ActiveState to work on Tcl Tools.

Mark: I help to maintain our internal version of tcl.

How much overlap is there between what your employer has you do for Tcl, and what you think Tcl needs?

Mark: Since most of my Tcl work has been in support of work related tasks, nearly all of it. As I mentioned above, a standard method for defining modules and objects would be very nice.

Andreas: A package repository is something which is sort of planned, but not actually being worked on.

Donal: None at the moment. Maybe I'll be able to change this in the future.

Jeff: Since we sell services and support for Tcl, I can end up working on things for companies that isn't fixing bugs or the like. Also tools development is not core development, but we do get to focus on the tools we think the community needs most.

What motivates you to work on the Tcl core?

Donal: It's fun. A great way to get rid of stress.

Mark: At AsiaInfo, the management team gave me a lot of support for using Tcl as a key component of their software, even when there was not a lot of "buzz" around the language. I wanted to make sure that Tcl would continue to evolve in such a manner that it would still be useful to them.

Jeff: Love of the language. Oh, and the pay helps too. ;)

What other languages do you use and enjoy? What would you use if you didn't have Tcl?

Andreas: I use shell. I can't say that this is enjoyment. For low-level work I use C. With no Tcl ... I guess Python, and maybe I would try my hand at Haskell.

Mark: C++. Python is also pretty nice once you get used to the indentation thing.

Donal: I also use C and Java quite a bit, but neither's particularly fun. They let me do what I need to do (or want to do). But without Tcl, I suppose I'd still be using Perl. Or maybe Python or Ruby or ... I don't know.

Jeff: I'd write Tcl. Honestly, I have a strong background in languages, and Tcl turned me on early for its unique mix of power and simplicity. I still write the occasional bit of perl or python, but only when necessary.

With what languages do you most often combine Tcl?

Jeff: C.

Andreas: See above. C and shell.

Mark: Mostly with C++. At NEC, I made a pretty large system by combining Tcl/Tk GUI frontends with Perl file processing backends. That was in 1991, so it was easy to determine the breakdown -- perl didn't support GUIs, and Tcl didn't support files.

Donal: C. Only way to seriously tinker with the core. ;^)

Table of contents
  1. "Tcl/Tk Interview, Part 1"
  2. "Tcl/Tk Interview, Part 2"
  3. "Tcl/Tk Interview, Part 3"
  4. "Tcl/Tk Interview, Part 4"
  5. "Tcl/Tk Interview, Part 5"
  6. "Tcl/Tk Interview, Part 6"
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