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User defined sorting and other uses of callbacks in Tcl and Tk

When I output a table of results, I usually want it to be sorted in some way.

In Tcl, I can use lsort to sort a list - there's an example of it running in a default way [here]. However, there's often a need to order records according to a non-default algorithm, and there are switches such as -integer for cases like this.

  % set values "4 7 12 7 12 5 4"
  4 7 12 7 12 5 4
  % puts [lsort $values]
  12 12 4 4 5 7 7
  % puts [lsort -integer $values]
  4 4 5 7 7 12 12
  %


Tk Events - sample outputGood - but what about more complex cases? I can use the -command option to pass in to lsort the name of a command that takes two parameters and returns negative / zero / positive depending on whether the first parameter passed in is to come first in the sorted result set, if the two values are of the same value as far as sorting is concerned, or if the second parameter passed is to be first on the output.

The code for this can be quite short - there's an example from yesterday's Tcl course that I've uploaded [here]. But it can also be quite baffling for the newcomer, as it's often his / her first experience of what's known as a callback - that's where a call is made to a Tcl-provided command (lsort in this case) which then calls - possibly multiple times, and possibly later on the extra piece of user provided code.

Purely as a training demonstration of the guts of how this works, I re-implemented elements of lsort in my own proc called mysort and I have placed that code on our website [here].

Callbacks turn out to be very important in Tk - the Graphic User Interface that's often used with Tcl. When you set up a button, you'll usuaully tell Tcl/Tk what the button is to do when pressed via a callback. There's a shortish example [here] ...
  button .tog -text Marmite -command flip
... in which a used defined proc called flip is to be run whenever the button called .tog is pressed. The definition of the code to be run is done early in the setup; it may be run (if the button is ever pressed!) much later on, as described above. That's often referred to as a deferred callback.


Illustraton - the Tcl/Tk demonstration program in use.
(written 2011-09-02)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
T206 - Tcl/Tk - Lists
  [4455] Working out distance between places, using OS grid references and a program in Tcl - (2015-03-11)
  [4454] Everything is a string - even a list - (2015-03-11)
  [4209] Lists in Tcl - fundamentals in a commented source code example - (2013-11-16)
  [3618] lists and struct::list in Tcl - Introduction to struct::list and examples - (2012-02-18)
  [3583] Expanding a list of parameters in Tcl - {*} and eval - (2012-01-17)
  [3582] Tcl collections - lists, dicts and array - (2012-01-16)
  [3394] The difference between lists and strings - Tcl - (2011-08-16)
  [3285] Extracting data from a string / line from file - Tcl - (2011-05-10)
  [2472] split and join in tcl and expect - (2009-10-23)
  [2468] What are Tcl lists? - (2009-10-22)
  [1601] Replacing the last comma with an and - (2008-04-04)
  [1405] Sorting in Tcl - lists and arrays - (2007-10-24)
  [1402] Tcl - append v lappend v concat - (2007-10-23)
  [1334] Stable sorting - Tcl, Perl and others - (2007-09-06)
  [1283] Generating traffic for network testing - (2007-07-29)
  [1282] Stringing together Tcl scripts - (2007-07-29)
  [781] Tcl - lappend v concat - (2006-06-27)
  [463] Splitting the difference - (2005-10-13)
  [144] Tcl sandwich - lists in Tcl - (2004-12-08)

T208 - Tcl/Tk - Arrays and dicts
  [3638] Sorting dicts and arrays in Tcl - (2012-03-04)
  [3614] Tcl - dicts - a tutorial and examples - (2012-02-14)
  [3192] Tcl - Some example of HOW TO in handling data files and formats - (2011-03-04)
  [2466] Tcl - passing arrays and strings in and back out of procs - (2009-10-22)
  [1614] When an array is not an array - (2008-04-17)
  [1427] Arrays in Tcl - a demonstration - (2007-11-10)
  [779] The fragility of pancakes - and better structures - (2006-06-26)
  [122] Passing arrays to procs in Tcl - (2004-11-18)

T217 - Tcl/Tk - First Widgets, Geometry and Events
  [4458] A new Tcl/tk example - a window to show system status - (2015-03-11)
  [3575] Multiple buttons calling the same proc in wish (tcl/tk) - (2012-01-12)
  [309] Writing a Tcl/Tk GUI is as easy as baking a cake - (2005-05-12)


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Tcl packages, pkg_mkIndex, pkgIndex.tcl -what are they and why use them.
What is a namespace and why do we need them?
Storing Tcl source code encoded, and running via your own C program
User defined sorting and other uses of callbacks in Tcl and Tk
Passing back multiple results in Tcl - upvar and uplevel
If its Sunday, must it be Weymouth?
Handling binary data in Perl is easy!
Single and double quotes strings in Perl - what is the difference?
A review of the Summer Sunday extra trains on the TransWilts line
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