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Exploring Expect: A Tcl-based Toolkit for Automating Interactive Programs Paperback – Dec 11 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 606 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (Dec 11 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565920902
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565920903
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 3.3 x 23.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #285,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Publisher

Written by the author of Expect, this is the first book to explain how this part of the UNIX toolbox can be used to automate Telnet, FTP, passwd, rlogin, and hundreds of other interactive applications. Based on Tcl (Tool Command Language), Expect lets you automate interactive applications that have previously been extremely difficult to handle with any scripting language.

About the Author

Don Libes is married to Susan Mulroney, a professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. Sue performs research in the area of kidney growth and development. Their well-hydrated daughter, Kenna, has two lovely kidneys.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

By A Customer on May 14 2002
Format: Paperback
I felt I was given a simple overview of Expect then Expected to understand the complex examples. This book only helped me to get started with the more practical type of problems I was attempting to solve with Expect, but leaves me looking for more practical examples and more explanation on how to complete the scripts I've attempted to create. The things I wish to know more about are the things that aren't explained very well, and the examples aren't very useful towards solving more practical problems.
One particular area I felt the book really lacked in was its explanation of Expectk. It helped me to understand the fundamentals of it, but didn't give a very good example of a practical use for it. It also didn't explain how to do many of the things I wish to do with it. I almost feel like I need another book just for expectk. It also didn't give any kind of decent help on how to install expect and it's needed components.
If your looking to wet your appetite, then this book will work for you, but I expect you'll be left wanting for more, and possibly confused about many things.
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Format: Paperback
When I discovered Perl I though it's a quick and dirty way to automate admin tasks. I was wrong. The really quick and dirty way is Expect. Expect works like Helpdesk hotline. You call them and they ask you what you see and tell you what you should type. Sometimes you just have no alternatives especially if you're short on time. But the language is pretty tricky (e.g. if you want to look for '$' in regexp, you should use '\\\$' pattern, etc) and I couldn't learn it using just examples included in the distribution package. Then I spent some time searching for the good tutorial and this book was the best I found. Expect is surprisingly poorly documented and I didn't find any other books about it. There are some articles in the Internet, but usually they don't give you the whole picture. This book includes many examples, easy stuff in the beginning to get you started and very advanced in the end. That's everything you need to learn expect and it's written pretty friendly. In some places it's very informal but not too much.
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Format: Paperback
Expect is completely unlike any other tool I have ever used. Think of any language you've used and how long it would take to: write a program that can update 1000 user passwords on 20 different machines; make two chess programs play each other; connect two users to the same shell program and type at the same time; allow you to rewrite the command arguments to any command line tool?
Expect really does make all these things trivial. It takes a lot of patience to master this tool though; Tcl is a very unforgiving and terse language. I've done things in Expect that I never thought were possible: I scripted Minicom (a modem term program that uses ncurses) to answer a phone after 7 seconds, and either: receive a zmodem file or send a login prompt. Then hang up the modem and wait again. Try that in a shell or systems language!
It's unfortunate that Expect is such a radically different beast and takes so long to understand; every person running regression tests or doing systems administration will benefit from this book. While it may not be great for just "looking up" things, search Usenet for all of the author's posts (comp.lang.tcl) and his answer is almost always, "This is on page XXX of the book." Because the book really does cover everything Expect does!
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Format: Paperback
This book is terrific. Libes writes very smoothly. Everything is answered and just at the right time - whenever I was wondering about a point, I would turn the page and find my question to be the next topic covered!
I really thought Expect was a simple-minded thing. Then I had a question about how to do something. I was bemoaning my problem one day when a coworker thrust this book into my hand and said "Read it!" Wow - not only did it have my exact scenario as an example but now I see Expect can do so many more cool things. I originally thought Expect was just good for telnet. But Libes shows examples applying it to all sorts of other programs. The breadth of the examples alone is incredible. It's obvious that Libes has really been around and poured all his wisdom and experience into this book.
I also liked the special command and variable index (the book calls it "Appendix") which is a 2nd index that takes you directly to where each command and option and variable is definitively described. There is also a third index of just the examples - some of them are useful in their own right (apart from demonstrating some concept). Between these and the regular index, it is always easy to find things later.
I wish all tech books were written this well.
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Format: Paperback
This book, along with Ousterhout and Sun's references on the www, comprise the triolgy that is jump-starting my learning tcl. I find the index compete and easy to use and I frequently jump all around the book gleaning little nuggets of information. I am also concurrently reading it cover-to-cover because I like Libes's style -- the way he throws in his programming phylosophy with his examples so you can see why he's doing something a certain way.
I like how the author addresses issues of portability without obsessing on it.
I really like the Exercises at the end of each chapter. I only wish the author would apply a difficulty rating to each exercise because sometimes I can't tell if an exercise is intrinsically very difficult (some are definitely so) or if I need to review parts of the chapter to see why I can't just instantly 'get it.' In any event, the exercises are stimulating and would require a long time and careful thought to do them all. I would buy a book that had the answers, with commentary, to all the exercises.
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