1. Introduction

VB and VBScript programmers: I know how you feel. Really. As a Microsoft Certified Professional in VB6, I've been doing those languages for 7 years. I really liked them, until I got over the hump in Tcl and started noticing the differences in flexibility that are shown here. If Tcl looks completely alien to you, and you wonder how in the world they dreamed it up, hold it up beside a piece of C code, or a UNIX shell script. I think those are what influenced it the most. UNIX shell scripts are a lot more advanced than MS Windows shell scripts, even those on NT/2000. In fact, UNIX shell scripts have a lot of the capabilities shown here. Both Tcl and shell script are based largely on string substitution. I chose to study Tcl over shell scripts because Tcl code is much more verbose and English-like (and therefore maintainable) than shell scripts, which tend to be cryptic. Some of the shell script command names are just punctuation alone!

Tcl also runs easily on the "big 4" PC platforms (Linux, *nix, Windows, Mac) as well as some others. This is promised by Java(tm), but delivered just as much (or more) by Tcl. And unlike Java and VB, Tcl is free of any commercial influences (which is true freedom, not just "free of charge"); over the years its development path sticks closer to what is really needed and wanted by you, its developers and potential developers. There has been no parent company to steer Tcl away from that and toward the company's own interests. The most startling contrast of all between Tcl and VB is that Tcl may even overshadow all the technical differences shown below.