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On the Suitability of Tcl/Tk for SYS

February 2003 Technical Note
Fred Hansen

This 2003 report reviews various websites and considers other factors that should influence the choice of Tcl/Tk as a tool for further development of SYS.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number


DOI (Digital Object Identifier):


The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) was called on recently to examine a system, hereafter called SYS, written entirely in the Tool Control Language/Toolkit (Tcl/Tk) language. In response to some negative comments in the SEI's report, the developers presented a list of systems purported to demonstrate the viability of Tcl/Tk as a development tool. A review of the 67 listed systems found that Tcl/Tk is indeed practical for developing large systems. 

Small systems written in the language often follow a paradigm of "classic Tcl/Tk windows." SYS embraced this approach to the extent of involving hundreds of windows. The review showed that no other large system written in Tcl/Tk has anywhere near as many such windows. User interviews suggested that the number of different windows was indeed a problem. SYS should consider an alternative design, perhaps a Web-based approach. Some design criteria are described at the end of the report.