Re: Forms support in clients
Tue, 27 Sep 1994 04:47:56 +0100

Here is Dr. Ousterhout on Sun and TCL from a comp.lang.tcl posting:

Article: 15480 of comp.lang.tcl
From: (John Ousterhout)
Newsgroups: comp.lang.tcl
Subject: Re: Sun's Tcl/Tk?
Date: 15 Sep 1994 15:55:00 GMT
Organization: Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Lines: 80
Sender: ouster@tcl (John Ousterhout)
Distribution: world
Message-ID: <359qok$dl6@engnews2.Eng.Sun.COM>
References: <>

In article <>, (Mike Murphy) writes:
|> Has there been any word regarding the status of the product, based on
|> that Sun plans on releasing? There's alotta rah-rah regarding Microsoft's
|> Visual Basic, I was wondering how this future product will fit in. Does it
|> intend to compete head on, or will it be aimed at a different market? Or,
|> is it all a big secret for the time being?

I'm enclosing below my "official blurb" on what is happening in my new
group at Sun. Tcl and Tk will be competitive with Visual Basic in the
sense that they make it easy to build GUI applications, and in the sense
that they'll have a GUI builder. However, the Sun work is targeted at
networks and multi-platform scripting, which are currently outside
Visual Basic's range. In this sense I don't see head-to-head competition
with VB.

Here's the blurb:

The Tcl/Tk project that I'm heading at Sun has the long-term goal
of making Tcl and Tk into a universal scripting language for the
Internet. You will be able write scripts (both GUI and non-GUI)
that will run unchanged on any machine in the Internet. If they
are GUI, they will present themselves using the native look and
feel of the platform on which they execute. Tcl will provide a
secure execution environment so that you will be able to execute
incoming scripts without fear of viruses or other damage to your
machine, even if you don't trust the source of the scripts. As
authentication mechanisms become available, Tcl will use them to
allow a variety of levels of trust of incoming scripts.

We think that a universal scripting language will enable many
exciting new applications. One example is active documents. An
active document is one that contains both the data of the document
and a set of scripts to control its presentation and propagation.
The document can be delivered to a recipient by many mechanisms,
such as e-mail or the World-Wide Web. Its scripts can then be
executed so that it can interact graphically with the recipient.
Once the interaction is complete, the document's scripts can take
other actions such as making entries in databases. The scripts
can also forward the document elsewhere around the network. Active
documents subsume work-flow applications as a subset, but they could
also be used for purposes such as active advertisements.

The Sun Tcl/Tk team will be carrying out the following projects over
the short term (6-12 months?):

1. Port both Tcl and Tk to Macintoshes and Windows.
2. Incorporate dynamic loading and the Safe-Tcl security extensions
back into the Tcl core.
3. Develop an interactive GUI builder for Tk like Visual Basic or

Over the longer term we hope to do some or all of the following
additional projects:

4. Build an on-the-fly compiler for Tcl scripts (should yield a
10-20x performance improvement in many cases).
5. Improve Tcl/Tk internationalization to handle Asian character
6. Build other development tools such as debuggers, test coverage
analyzers, etc.
7. Develop interesting applications such as active documents.

Our policy is that all of the core facilities for executing Tcl scripts,
such as the Mac and PC ports, Safe-Tcl, etc. will always be distributed
freely, without any restrictions. Of course, Sun has to make money off
of this somehow, otherwise it won't be able to continue funding development.
Most likely this will happen by making products out of applications and
development tools like the GUI builder. It's likely that some of these
will be distributed freely in source form at first, but as they mature
and turn into products, sources may stop being available and you'll have
to pay to use them.

Right now I don't have a detailed schedule for any of the projects,
nor can I give specifics about eventual products or licensing terms,
except to say that the core Tcl/Tk engines will always be free. The
project is currently located in Sun Microsystems Laboratories, the
research arm of the company, and there are not yet any official
product commitments from the Sun product organizations. I'll make
more information available as we figure it out.