Version 0 of BOOK Exploring Expect

Updated 1999-03-05 17:50:14

Subtitle: A Tcl-Based Toolkit for Automating Interactive Applications

 Author: Don Libes [email protected]
 WWW book information: http://www.ora.com/catalog/expect/
 Book's examples: ftp://ftp.cme.nist.gov/pub/subject/expect/example/
 Errata: http://expect.nist.gov/errata

For all of you who thought that the Expect man page was too long and too terse at the same time, this book provides relief. "Exploring Expect" is an introduction and comprehensive tutorial to Expect. Numerous examples are provided and explained, demonstrating how to save you time and money. Example topics include how to write patterns, do signal handling, use Expect as a telnetable daemon, and use Expect with Tk and other Tcl extensions.

The book also includes an innovative introduction to Tcl - if you've had trouble using Tcl before, all of a sudden, it will make a lot more sense. And while Exploring Expect concentrates primarily on using Expect with Tcl, programmers attempting to automate interactive programs using C, Perl, Python, or any other language will find this book helpful because many of the concepts underlying Expect-like programming are common to all languages.

Exploring Expect remains in the first edition. There have only been a few corrections and updates so they have been easily incorporated in new printings. The last time Don had to make any corrections was in the third printing.

Exploring Expect was originally based on Tcl 7.3 and 7.4 alpha. However, the book correctly describes 7.5 as well. Almost all of the recent changes in Tcl were under the cover - which is not the focus of Don's book, so it is still accurate.

Interesting story time: Don only needed to make one change in the book when Tcl 7.4 came out of alpha. Tcl 7.4 added checking for overflow which was something his random number generator didn't like. So he changed the constants in the 2nd printing to avoid this problem. Later, Ousterhout got enough grief from people that he later changed it back. So it turned out that Don really hadn't needed to make any changes to the book after all.

The book was also based on Tk 3.6 and Tk 4 alpha. Don's book doesn't go into enough depth on Tk that this really matters - in fact, he only needed to mention a difference between Tk 3 and Tk 4 at one point. So the text is still accurate. He does, however, have a lot of real code and some of the Tk examples no longer work quite right because of the way bind changed. However, all of those examples come with the Expect tar file and they are Tk4-ized, so it shouldn't be a significant problem. The text describing the examples is still correct.

Note that a new version of Expect is in testing for Tcl 8.0. To get it, check on the WWW home page for the beta version of Expect.

The WWW home for Expect is http://expect.nist.gov/ .