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From: Jeffrey Hobbs <jeffrey.hobbs@ajubasolutions.com>
Newsgroups: comp.lang.tcl.announce
Subject: Report: 1. Tcl'Europe Conference
Date: 21 Jun 2000 09:57:02 -0700

I know the title was officially the First European Tcl/Tk User Meeting,
but it was so successful I'm calling it a conference anyways.  BTW, to
start off with, a toplevel link to papers and other info is:

I'll give some overall thoughts and then go to a session-by-session
review of some notable bits.  For all that this is a LONG message, a
lot went on in that short time which is worth noting (and thus reading,
of course :^).

The overall mood of the people there was excellent and you could
easily say things went very well overall.

Attendance was officially 65 (65 people paid the DM 100 fee), but
more were evident in attendance (I'd say as many as 75 total).  The
attendees were 2/3 from Germany (conference was in Hamburg), with
the last 1/3 being spread around Europe.  It's hard to say specifically
why the it was so strongly Germany weighted, there were many proferred
opinions.  The high-tech branch in Germany is clearly one of the strongest
in Europe.  The conference was in Germany.  It was only implicitly made
known that the conference was in English (everyone there took that for
a given, but someone noted they weren't 100% sure).  Outside the
newsgroup, the event was only minimally advertised in a German computer
magazine (ix).  You can add your speculation, but all in all, the
attendance was actually much higher than expected, especially given the
low-key advertising for it.

So onto the sessions...

The first talk was the Tcl Update, which I gave.  It was an abbreviation
of the talk that John Ousterhout and I gave at Tcl'2K.  The roadmap
poll (asking users what they would like to see) turned out somewhat
differently than from Tcl'2K.  The results were (in votes for each, out
of approx. 70 people):
	3	Improve Tcl Performance
	12	Smaller, more modular core
	5	Archive file support (.jar/.zip)
	25	Standard Libraries
	5	Unix binary distributions
	20	Tcl Installer
	25	Standalone executable support
	8	Further Java integration
	12	Drag & Drop
	8	Improved Windows Tk performance
	25	Printing support
	8	Tk abstraction layer (TkGS)
	7	Megawidgets (roll your own)
	35	New standard widgets
	8	Focus on I18N issues
	3	Thread support for Tk

In contrast, the most important item at Tcl'2K was to improve Tcl
performance.  The issue of themes (skins) came up at one point, in
a discussion between Tk and Gtk.  While I agree that it looks sexy
and would be an optional nicety, I asked how many users would
actually use it in app they would ship, and *noone* raised their

In another interesting difference, Unix was an important platform
for almost every user at Tcl'Europe, with Windows important to
about 40%.  At Tcl'2K, it was about 80% Unix and 50% Windows.  Each
had a few where Mac was also important.

Andreas Kupries followed with a discussion of Stacked Channels.
He gave a good background on the needs for it, the history, and the
basic structure.

Uwe Zdun continued with a paper on XOTcl.  This was a paper that was
also presented at Tcl'2K and makes good reading.  XOTcl really is an
object model based on the Tcl philosophy, and Uwe went through some
examples of how it can be used.

Juergen Schoenwaelder, author of Scotty, followed with a paper titled
"Married with Tcl".  It was similar to Don Libes' paper on writing
Expect.  It was a very good experience paper that describes maintaining
an extension over time, and the love and pain that has to go along with

Following that was a CORBA Language Mapping for Tcl paper by Frank
Pilhofer.  He previously wrote TclMico, know called Combat, which ties
Tcl into CORBA as both client and server.

Next in line was Jochen Loewer, with a paper on tDOM, a fast XML/DOM/XPath
extension for Tcl.  I don't want to go into the technical details, but
for those working in similar areas here, this is probably a good paper to
read.  Keywords DOM, SAX, XPath, Serialization, XML-RPC.

I followed on with my second talk, this one on Ajuba2.  I gave a rough
overview, with the breakdown of the parts.

Oliver Schmelzle made a very good presentation on Vignette's work,
focusing on StoryServer, and the new V/5.  Oliver focused on the
architecture of StoryServer, and how they manage the 10s of millions of
hits to a site.  At one point he noted that Vignette was "having to" move
away from Tcl into ASP and JSP due in part to customer demand, but also
due to the lack of being able to find Tcl developers.

Following that was a talk by Anselm Lingnau on mobile agents.  This is an
area where Tcl has been used before.  It had some interesting research
aspects, but the summarizing point was made at the end where in response
to a question he admitted that the killer app for mobile agents hasn't
really been found.

The first of two presentations from Patschke & Rasp was given by Ahmet
Keskin about a Load Testing app in Tcl/Tk.  This was a classic app paper
using an interesting and popular area for Tcl - testing.  This is a
repeat of a Tcl'2K paper again, but a good paper nonetheless.

That wrapped up the first day.  A lot of chatting went on during the
breaks, lunch and the following dinner.  Someone will probably have to
come along and shake my brain to get all the tidbits out though.  On to
the next day...

Friday started off with another app paper describing an application for
managing the db data associated with waste water management that is
actually used by German municipalities.  It was essentially a walk-through
of the app, with reasoning behind cause and effect for choosing Tcl.
It was very classic in how they came to Tcl.  A project started in 1991
with C/Motif, and migrated to Tcl in the mid-90s with significant success.

Jan Nijtmans followed with a discussion of his Wrap application, which
creates a standalone Tcl executable.  They are working on more elaborate
solutions for the future (better obfuscation, ...).

Franco Violi was next with a talk about integrating Tcl/Tk into legacy
applications.  This didn't seem to have an interesting title, but then
I found out that this meant putting a Tcl interpreter into COBOL!!
With all the event loop and everything.  This was rather clever, and
made for an interesting talk.

Carsten gave a quick talk, more of a WiP on ASED (a Tcl/Tk based
programmer's editor) and MSGedit, which is a message catalog editor.

After the break, Michael Haschek gave a talk on T-IDE (Tcl IDE), work
being done in cooperation with ICEMCFD.  This is a SourceNavigator
like development environment in and for Tcl.

Following that was a presentation of VisualGYPSY, a Tcl/Tk GUI
builder by Patscke & Rasp that has been recently released as open
source.  It's still supported, and looks like a useful GUI builder,
if you need to recommend one to anybody.

Lindsay Marshall (of tclCheck and Frink fame) gave a talk on his
tools, which were basically the first well-known static syntax
analysis and pretty-printing tools for Tcl.  It was a funny talk,
and the tools do many interesting things to boot.

Hartmut Schirmacher presented tmk, a Tcl Make tool.  There are a
series of tools along these lines also noted in the paper.  There
are always two camps, fairly hardened, on whether one should move
away from the ubiquitous, but not totally functional, make, into
Makefiles that can be truly scripted.

Following that was a talk by Andreas Otto on a new Tcl compiler (to C
code).  This has been questioned on the newsgroup because people
thought from his fragile use of English that he wasn't quite aware of
the intricacies of Tcl and that it just wouldn't work 100%.  Well, it
was a very good talk and showed a potentially promising compiler based
on sound principles.  He even plans on making a Java backend.  I was
convinced that he knows what he's doing and that it could be useful
for some.  Of course, it's a commercial product...

After that was another talk by Anselm Lingnau, this time on his
personal project TkDVI, which is a TeX DVI previewer.  It had some
cool features, but still needs some work on getting embedded PS
and such.

Steffen Werner gave a presentation on XTCC, a tape control system
written in Tcl/Tk that worked in very high-end mission critical
systems.  This was a good example of a successful use of Tcl/Tk
in yet another mission critical area.

Andrej Vckovski of Netcetera presented Webshell, an app we've seen
before at conferences that is reaching v3.0.  The interesting new
features are that it is thread-safe, to make it a perfect match
for the threadable Apache 2.0 release.  He noted that Tcl is
uniquely poised for Apache 2.0 because it is the only scripting
language that has mastered the multi-threading arena to date.

The final paper was from Carsten Zerbst, a discussion of some of
the work he has been doing for his PhD thesis.  It was an application
to deal with handling of data from various sources.  It used CORBA
and Tcl together.  This was paper 2 on CORBA/Tcl integration at the
conference, and another alluded to it (Loewer's IIRC).  There was
definite impetus to push farther with CORBA/Tcl work from several

So that was all the primary content.  As I said, lots went on in
side discussions as well, but this message is long enough already.

On a final note, everyone was quite satisfied with how things went,
and there are plans to try and organize something again next year.
Carsten will announce later this year whether he will be able to do
the organization again, or whether they'll have to look to someone
else (like Usenix's European cousin).

I'd also like to thank Carsten for taking the time to organize this
event.  The stimmung was positive and the outcome very good.  It was
an impressive and valuable return for the effort that he put in.

   Jeffrey Hobbs                     The Tcl Guy
   hobbs at ajubasolutions.com       Ajuba Solutions (née Scriptics)

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