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For 2023 (and 2024 ...) - we are now fully retired from IT training.
We have made many, many friends over 25 years of teaching about Python, Tcl, Perl, PHP, Lua, Java, C and C++ - and MySQL, Linux and Solaris/SunOS too. Our training notes are now very much out of date, but due to upward compatability most of our examples remain operational and even relevant ad you are welcome to make us if them "as seen" and at your own risk.

Lisa and I (Graham) now live in what was our training centre in Melksham - happy to meet with former delegates here - but do check ahead before coming round. We are far from inactive - rather, enjoying the times that we are retired but still healthy enough in mind and body to be active!

I am also active in many other area and still look after a lot of web sites - you can find an index ((here))
Running external processes in Tcl and Tcl/Tk

If you want to run external processes from a Tcl based program (Tcl, Tcl/Tk, expect), there are various ways of doing it.

Firstly, the whole purpose of the Expect extension is to allow you to control other processes via its three major commands of spawn which starts another process, send which sends characters to that other process, and expect which causes your program to wait until it gets a particular response, or one of a series of possible responses.

If you don't need to go to these lengths, though, there are three other options at least.

You can use an exec command to run an external process and capture the result returned in a variable:

set ff [exec ls]
puts $ff

You can use the open command and open a process by preceeding it with a "pipe" character in place of its default behaviour which would be to open a file. This lets you handle a process that generates a lot of output line by line, and by using r+, w+ modes and flush you can also set it up for both read and write. Here's a simple example of opening a piped process for read:

set fh [open |df r]
while {[gets $fh line] >= 0} {
puts $line

Finally, you can talk to a remote process via the network, using socket to open a remote connection. Like the open command, the socket command opens a channel so once the channel is set up you can handle the data stream exactly as if it was a file or pipe. Again, don't forget flush. Example (getting a file off a web server):

# Through a socket - a remote process

set fh [socket 80]
puts $fh "GET /index.html HTTP/1.0\n"
flush $fh
while {[gets $fh line] >= 0} {
puts $line

(written 2006-06-29, updated 2006-06-30)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
T244 - Tcl/Tk - Socket Programming
  [4462] Server program written in Tcl using sockets - (2015-03-13)

T209 - Tcl/Tk - File and Directory Handling
  [779] The fragility of pancakes - and better structures - (2006-06-26)
  [1407] Reading from another process in Tcl (pipes and sockets) - (2007-10-26)
  [1426] Buffering up in Tcl - the empty coke can comparison - (2007-11-10)
  [1467] stdout v stderr (Tcl, Perl, Shell) - (2007-12-10)
  [2467] Tcl - catching an error before your program crashes - (2009-10-22)
  [3192] Tcl - Some example of HOW TO in handling data files and formats - (2011-03-04)
  [3320] Reading the nth line from a file (Perl and Tcl examples) - (2011-06-09)
  [3429] Searching through all the files in or below a directory - Ruby, Tcl, Perl - (2011-09-09)
  [3617] The fileutil package and a list of file system commands in Tcl - (2012-02-18)
  [4461] Reading from a URL, and reading Json, from your Tcl script - (2015-03-12)
  [4523] Catching failed commands and not crashing the program in Tcl - (2015-10-10)
  [4524] Tcl - a new example for data reformatting - (2015-10-10)

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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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