Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by Guido Ostk » Mon, 14 Jul 2003 04:14:30


it seems the only available comprehensive guide to "expect" is the
book "Exploring expect" at the moment - at least I could not find
anything free.

Looking at amazon's or even O'Reilly reader reviews I am getting mixed
feelings. Some say the book is well done, others find it badly
organized, hard to follow, much too long, unusable as reference or
somehow dislike the writing style of the author. However, I have no
idea whether the reviewers were beginners or experts.

Studying the table of contents at O'Reilly it seems that probably a
large part of the book is dealing with TCL itself. After all, the book
is now 9 years old (my references show 1st Ed. Dec. 1994) and many
versions of Tcl and maybe "expect" have passed by, so I can imagine
that it may have code that no longer works, or new features not
covered at all.

Which version of Tcl and "expect" is covered by the book?

I would appreciate to read the opinions of some expert TCL programmers
about the book considering the current TCL and "expect" version.

Does it make sense to buy it anyway?

Is an updated 2nd edition just around the corner? I haven't found any

BTW: I am only interested in "expect" and examples, not in general Tcl
documentation (already have a good Tcl/Tk book).



Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by clair » Mon, 14 Jul 2003 04:56:00

In article < XXXX@XXXXX.COM >,

There are no plans for a second edition. I believe
there is indeed a need for a second Expect book, and
have even outlined one myself, but none of the people
who could write it well appear able to make the time
to do so.

The book is indeed almost hilariously old, in com-
parison with computing trends.

It's held up almost unfathomably well, though. Yes,
if you have an interest in Expect, the book will
serve you well. Its "upward compatibility" is ex-
cellent, even astonishing. The specific code that
appears there still works, almost without exception.
There are a few cases where an expert would recom-
mend a more modern implementation.

Get it <URL: http://www.yqcomputer.com/ ;.

Cameron Laird < XXXX@XXXXX.COM >
Business: http://www.yqcomputer.com/
Personal: http://www.yqcomputer.com/


Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by Roy Terr » Mon, 14 Jul 2003 05:23:08

re "Exploring Expect"

If you're actually interested in Expect and
automation issues and with learning the
necessary Tcl language then you will probably
like this book. It deals mostly with
Expect there are only a couple chapters
that are Tcl introduction.

If your goal is make a quick hack and
move on then perhaps not. In that case
I suggest just reading the man pages,
(they are for "reference")
then experimenting and coding.

The book is beautifully written and remains
quite usable despite its age. Again it all
depends on perspective. This book rewards
those with patience and ability to pay
attention and if you're really going to be
successful with Expect you need those
traits because the things that Expect provides
require subtle thinking. For my money,
this is the best written Tcl book there is.

Perhaps you can lay your hands on a physical
copy first.

( I own more that 10 Tcl books and
have written Expect code to automate
FTP, and modems and Unix commands)

Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by bigdakin » Mon, 14 Jul 2003 05:41:57

>Subject: Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Are you in poverty?

Then buy the friggin book.


Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by Marty Back » Mon, 14 Jul 2003 12:41:21

If you want deep knowledge of Expect, run, don't walk, to get this
book. Although it can serve the purpose, don't buy it to learn

Marty Backe

- Who is John Galt?

Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by Guido Ostk » Tue, 15 Jul 2003 07:00:29

Hi Roy,

Can you say roughly what percentage of the book is "pure TCL"?

I am considering to build an install mechanism for a software running
on a cluster system. Unfortunately there are some things like
establishing ".rhosts" entries, setting up passwords etc. that cannot
be done using "rsh" alone, so I need something like expect.

That would be a good idea, unfortunately the local bookshops don't
carry it - it has to be ordered which takes about 2 weeks, if I am
lucky. And then I have to buy it in any case.



Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by Guido Ostk » Tue, 15 Jul 2003 07:08:01

Hi Stuart,

Not yet. But taxes and insurances are already cutting of > 50% of the
wages in this country and I am not going to blindly spend 10% of the
value of e.g. a good PDA for a probably outdated 9 year old book if I
am not totally convinced of it.



Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by Guido Ostk » Tue, 15 Jul 2003 07:09:50

No problem - I already have the "Practical Programming in Tcl and Tk"
book in its brand new 4th edition here.

Thanks for sharing your opinion.



Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by Guido Ostk » Tue, 15 Jul 2003 07:21:17

Thanks, Cameron. I am still thinking about it, because I will have no
chance to look at the book before ordering it. Maybe it is a better
idea to let my department buy the book instead of buying it on my own.



Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by Roland Rob » Tue, 15 Jul 2003 11:19:49


go> it seems the only available comprehensive guide to "expect" is
go> the book "Exploring expect" at the moment - at least I could
go> not find anything free.

The book is well worth the money. I still use it and it sits in easy
reach on my shelf in the office. Yes, it is "old" by computing
standards. However, compared to, say Ousterhout's original Tcl book
which some here feel is pretty good, I'd say _Exploring Expect_ has
held up well (mind you, it's not that Ousterhout's book is *bad*, it
has just suffered in usefulness has Tcl has changed).

Even though Expect has gone through several version changes since the
book, I've found it invaluable when I needed to do something
non-obvious, like how to handle terminal resizing and probing during a
login session. Or how to multiplex I/O with several spawned

I would pick up a copy. If you're hesitant to fork over the bucks for
a book you're not sure about, try buying a copy off half.com.


- --
PGP Key ID: 66 BC 3B CD
Roland B. Roberts, PhD RL Enterprises
XXXX@XXXXX.COM 6818 Madeline Court
XXXX@XXXXX.COM Brooklyn, NY 11220

Version: 2.6.3ia
Charset: noconv
Comment: Processed by Mailcrypt 3.5.4, an Emacs/PGP interface


Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by Bruce Hart » Tue, 15 Jul 2003 11:21:22

Expect is perfect for this (and has been used to do exactly
this on some incredibly large systems)

The book will be more than worth it. Yes is it old, but
the expect commands haven't changed themselves, and it doesn't
really dwell in the surrounding TCL too much. Much of it really
has to do with all the funny things that external programs
do that you need to handle with expect, and all those wierd issues
are still around.

You can tell it is still am excellant resource by looking at all the
expect questions on c.l.t. that have as a reply see page N of the book.


Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by lvirde » Wed, 16 Jul 2003 01:13:02

According to Guido Ostkamp < XXXX@XXXXX.COM >:
: at least I could not find
:anything free.

while there are not 'comprehensive' reference books available free
(the tcl community doesn't seem to write tomes like perl, python, etc.)
i find that reading the papers on http://www.yqcomputer.com/ , reading
the example code in the source dist., searching http://www.yqcomputer.com/
and http://www.yqcomputer.com/ , and asking well crafted questions here seems
to, in general, take care of 30-50% or more of the need.

What remains is either covered in the book, or is esoterically intertwined
in the app requirements.

The Tenth Annual Tcl/Tk Conference <URL: http://www.yqcomputer.com/ ;
Even if explicitly stated to the contrary, nothing in this posting
should be construed as representing my employer's opinions.
<URL: mailto: XXXX@XXXXX.COM > <URL: http://www.yqcomputer.com/ ;

Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by Don Libe » Wed, 16 Jul 2003 04:34:35

"Guido Ostkamp" < XXXX@XXXXX.COM > writes:

You might get that impression from looking at the table of contents.
For example, the "Send" chapter sounds like it might be talking about
Tk's send. Or the "Handling Multiple Processes" chapter has nothing
specifically to do with Expect. But that's not the case. Those
chapters are most definitely talking about Expect- specific things.
The only chapter that is purely about vanilla Tcl is Chapter 2.

The Expect code in the book is (amazingly) still the current syntax
although there are a few things that now have simpler solutions. For
example, Expect provided a timestamp command to generate timestamps.
Now that Tcl has a clock command, you can simply ignore the page in
the book on timestamp.

O'Reilly regularly begs me for a 2nd edition but that's because they
say that 2nd editions bring in more money, not because one is actually
needed. Shucks, maybe they're right and one is needed. If someone
ever finishes off a Windows port of Expect, I'd be happy to do (or let
someone else do) a 2nd edition with some Windows coverage. I think
that would make it substantially better than the 1st edition and worth
the extra bucks that O'Reilly would charge you.


Q: Opinions on book "Exploring expect" wanted

Post by Guido Ostk » Sat, 19 Jul 2003 05:37:38

Thanks for the insight, Don.

I have asked the management of my department to get the book, and hope
it will be approved.