What Is Tcl?

Tcl (Tool Command Language) is a remarkably simple scripting language that’s easy to learn, yet powerful enough to implement large-scale, distributed applications. Whether you need to build a complex graphical user interface, create a network-enabled application, or develop a cross-platform program, Tcl can help you get the job done in less time than you thought possible. Additionally, the language’s support for Internet access, database access, and internationalization, as well as its stability and robustness, make it well-suited for enterprise-wide applications.

Why Use Tcl?

Tcl has many great features that make it well suited for a variety of projects.

Easy to learn

Tcl is a very simple language. Experienced programmers can learn Tcl and produce their first interesting application in just a few hours or days. Casual programmers can also learn Tcl quickly. Tcl is often used in situations where experienced programmers create a base set of facilities, and more casual programmers write Tcl scripts to customize those facilities, create business rules, etc.

Cross-platform support

Tcl runs on Unix, Windows, Macintosh, and a wide variety of other platforms. This makes it an outstanding tool for creating cross-platform applications. For example, the same Tcl script can run on Unix, Windows, and Macintosh and display a graphical user interface; the GUI will have a different look and feel on each platform, to match the user's expectations for that platform.

Ready for the enterprise

Tcl is a stable, robust language suitable for large server applications and other mission-critical enterprise uses. Key features of Tcl that support enterprise-wide applications include:

  • Internet support
  • database access
  • internationalization
  • cross-platform portability
  • great GUI capabilities
  • embeddability
  • thread safety

Flexible integration

With Tcl it is easy to coordinate existing components and applications so that they work together effectively. For example, it is easy to use Tcl as a control language for special-purpose hardware and protocols, add a GUI or network interface to a legacy application, or integrate new Java applications with legacy code in C or C++. This makes Tcl a powerful tool in areas such as network management and factory automation.

Network-aware applications

No platform has easier to use networking facilities than Tcl. Servers and clients can be created in a few minutes with just a few lines of code. Tcl provides a great way to add network interfaces to legacy applications.

It's free!

Tcl is available freely in source form. You can do anything you want with it, such as modifying it to suit your needs or incorporating it into commercial products.

Since Tcl can be used for such a wide range of purposes, you can now standardize on just one scripting language for all your needs. This is a great benefit, reducing the cost for your organization since you only need to learn, maintain, and support one scripting solution as well as significantly improving the ability for all your applications to integrate smoothly.