Re: Why Tcl is a Bad Thing

Larry W. Virden (lwv26@chemabs.uucp)
Sat, 8 Oct 1994 03:48:58 GMT

In article <3741on$8ej@nntp.Stanford.EDU>,
Niels P. Mayer <mayer@leland.Stanford.EDU> wrote:
:Your statement "the market is not Lisp machine hackers" seems pretty
:off-the-wall. There are plenty of Lisps out there that make good extension
:languages. Given an environment that supports the facilities people need,
:even the most stalwart C-head will use Lisp. The large "after market" of

Well, that is certainly your opinion. But I know of no C-head who would
consider using Lisp . Many in fact hesitate about Tcl because it is too
Lisp-like in looks. Of course, these folk use vi or crisp rather than
Emacs because of elisp (and many other reasons).

The bottom line is that, in my opinion, I would have to agree with the
previous remark that "the market is not Lisp machine hackers". That is to
say, the majority of programmers using software today are folks dedicated
to programming Lisp machines.

:Like I said previously, I wouldn't be arguing against Tcl/Tk if it simply
:existed "out there" on the net without it's delusions of grandeur, without
:a need for "world domination". But with talk of standardizing safe-Tcl as
:an interapplication communication language and Sun's support for Tcl
:looming on the horizon, it's time to speak up.

Give me a break. While there are certainly languages out there which
stick their heads up in every newsgroup indicating that their solution is
the fastest, most unreadable solution, Tcl certainly does not fall into
that category. I have watched traffic in many groups for over 2 yrs.
The _closest_ thing that I have found is an ongoing almost amusing
'battle' between winterp and Tk for folks to be recommended to when they
want to do _real work_ on a machine where they don't have access to Motif -
places like Linux, the *BSD varients, SunOS, and other sites as well.
And of course, there are those who struggle with Xt and Motif for several
months first and then cry out for some relief fromthe burden.

:Yes, Tk is "free", but I don't really care because I get Motif "for free"
:with any workstation/OS I'd ever consider using for delivering product. And
:it is supported, product-quality code, not an ever-changing hack that
:claims it has Motif look-and-feel but really just has Motif look.

I certainly agree here though. Folks should NOT refer to Tk as a Motif
look alike. That to me degrades Tk's possibilities - but then, I have never
cared for the look or feel of Motif. But as to 'product-quality code' ...
hmm, I have had these ongoing motif problems with Frame, Caseware, Mosaic,
.... for quite some months/years now.

:As far as I can tell, the only place Tk is worth using is for users that
:feel the need to continue using SunOS 4.1.3 and "OpenWindows", since Sun
:did such a good job of making sure that Motif doesn't run on OpenWindows
:(they shipped the system with a major bug that just "happens" to make the X
:server croak when you use Motif, unless you get a patch that they released
:later). This seems like a pretty reasonable conspiracy given that Sun was

Maybe on your system that is the case. But I have been using OpenWindows
and Motif apps (FrameMaker, Caseware, Motif, and others) for some time
now and have never encountered said bug.

:sabotage Motif. I see Sun's announced support of Tcl/Tk as their
:last-ditch attempt at stabbing OSF in the back. If so, Tcl/Tk's popularity
:is a pyrrhic victory if I've ever seen one.

Actually, Sun announced Motif support long before hiring John. And I
have never seen a Sun announcement indicating they were going to support
Tk over Motif.

:s Great net resources sought...
:s Larry W. Virden                 INET:
:s <URL:>
The task of an educator should be to irrigate the desert not clear the forest.