Review: Tcl/Tk 8.5 Programming Cookbook

The packaging

This book is available in three formats: dead tree, PDF and EPUB. When reviewing the book, I've used the PDF version.

I don't think a review would be complete without initially reviewing the format it's come in. In this case, the Packt website was pretty clear. To get to the page to download the PDF, one needs an account login. Once you're in, the book is easy to find and easy to download.

I'm actually quite impressed with the thought that's gone into securing the PDF. Your details are encoded into the footer of each page of the book, but, the PDF itself is unencrypted and easy to copy around or print as you need to. To me, it suggests they understand that an ebook can always be cracked if someone persists - so they've decided not to make life for their paying customers. They're to be commended, and I hope this approach rewards them well.

The content

The full title of Bert Wheeler's book is "Tcl/Tk 8.5 Programming Cookbook: Over 100 great recipes to effectively learn Tcl/Tk 8.5". Oddly enough, this book isn't organised into "recipes" per se. It's organised into chapters which introduce the groups of Tcl/Tk commands used in the extended example, an address book application. Sections within chapters are organised around tasks you might want to accomplish, and explaining how you can do them.

Bert Wheeler's book assumes a little bit of familiarity with other programming languages, and doesn't dwell on those exceedingly basic concepts everyone has been taught in highschool computer classes since the 1980s.

Chapters are straight-forward and cover: The Tcl shell, Control Structures, Error Handling, String Expressions, Lists, Dicts, File Operations, Tk Basics, Tk Widgets, Geometry Managers, Dialogs, Menus, and the extended code example.

Bert Wheeler presents the info you need in a clear way, while also slipping in his personal story of learning the language from time to time. Everyone seems to come to Tcl/Tk through different avenues, so it's an engaging approach. (Myself, my first exposure to Tcl was automating remote actions using Tcl's Expect for systems administration.)

In Sum

Publisher: Packt Publishing (February 11, 2011)
Author: Bert Wheeler
Paperback: 236 pages
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1849512981
ISBN-13: 978-1849512985
Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 11 inches

Rating: 9/10. Audience: Beginners and "refreshers".

All up, Bert Wheeler's book is an excellent introduction to the world of Tcl/Tk programming for the beginner. It succeeds in making the language very accessible in bite-sized chunks. Where Welsh, Jones & Hobbes' "Practical Programming in Tcl and Tk" is the perfect tome and reference, Bert Wheeler's "Tcl/Tk 8.5 Programming Cookbook" is the perfect book for picking up the essentials of the language on your commute to and from work. I would recommend it.

Peter Caffin is a systems administrator and software developer from Perth, Western Australia. His contributions to Tcl/Tk include TclMacBag (various Mac UI controls to all platforms in a platform appropriate way) and TclTalkback (automated error reporting to developers). Product links point to Localhost, where Peter Caffin is an affiliate.

(Reviewed: March 2011.)