When I received my review copy of the Tcl/Tk 8.5 Programming Cookbook I was half expecting a rewrite of the manual -lists of features and functionality with little indication of how and when to use specific resources. I was wrong. Let me explain. A cookbook is something to turn to when you’ve run out of ideas or perhaps are looking to find some new way of tackling an old problem. Alternatively, cookbooks are for beginners and novices, those people who need to know how do something effectively and quickly. In this area the ‘Cookbook’ score points in every chapter.
Turn to any page in the text and you will find a clear, structure on how to use Tcl/Tk to resolve particular issues. There is a task statement, such as 'Creating a List’ in which a particular requirement is identified followed by 'How to Do It’ code snippet and 'Why it Works’ explanation. For someone new to Tcl programming this is an excellent approach.
Overall, the ‘Cookbook’ is organised over thirteen chapters which cover all the key areas any novice Tcler needs to know. The flow of the book first introduces the reader to the key aspects of Tcl: the shell, program control, error handling, string manipulation, lists, dictionaries (particularly useful) and file operations. Following this it deals with the creation and configuration of GUIs using the Tk widget set and the use of in-built dialogs and the creation of menus. Finally, the issues and decisions surrounding the completion of a first Tcl/Tk project are examined in the form of an address book application.
The Tcl/Tk 8.5 Programming CookBook is exactly what it set out to be - a practical tutorial text. It doesn’t cover the advanced features of Tcl/Tk but this is intentional. Would I recommend this book to a Tcl/Tk newbie? Yes.