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Exploring Expect: A Tcl-based Toolkit for Automating Interactive Programs [Paperback]

Don Libes
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 45.99
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Book Description

Dec 11 1994 1565920902 978-1565920903 1

Expect is quickly becoming a part of every UNIX user's toolbox. It allows you to automate Telnet, FTP, passwd, rlogin, and hundreds of other applications that normally require human interaction. Using Expect to automate these applications will allow you to speed up tasks and, in many cases, solve new problems that you never would have even considered before.For example, you can use Expect to test interactive programs with no changes to their interfaces. Or wrap interactive programs with Motif-like front-ends to control applications by buttons, scrollbars, and other graphic elements with no recompilation of the original programs. You don't even need the source code! Expect works with remote applications, too. Use it to tie together Internet applications including Telnet, Archie, FTP, Gopher, and Mosaic.Don Libes is the creator of Expect as well as the author of this book. In Exploring Expect, he provides a comprehensive tutorial on all of Expect's features, allowing you to put it immediately to work on your problems. In a down-to-earth and humorous style, he provides numerous examples of challenging real-world applications and how they can be automated using Expect to save you time and money.Expect is the first of a new breed of programs based on Tcl, the Tool Command Language that is rocking the computer science community. This book provides an introduction to Tcl and describes how Expect applies Tcl's power to the new field of interaction automation. Whether your interest is in Expect or interaction automation or you simply want to learn about Tcl and see how it has been used in real software, you will find Exploring Expect a treasure trove of easy-to-understand and valuable information.


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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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Expect more Exploring 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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5.0 out of 5 stars No alternatives Dec 29 2000
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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4.0 out of 5 stars A completely different tool July 17 2000
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Wish all books were this well-written April 14 2000
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Good examples, good index, good explanations May 20 1998
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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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing book for an essential topic
Reading this book it appears that expect has wonderful promise. However the book does not have the type of examples that are complete and lead to understanding. Read more
Published on March 8 2007 by James Hartley
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice reference to have
The good thing about this book is that it gives one a basic back ground of TCL before delving into Expect which, makes it an excellent "quick" reference book to have on... Read more
Published on March 18 2004 by Jayant Dasari
2.0 out of 5 stars No other choice
If you are a beginner and you survived using this book, consider it as an accomplishment. This book is quite difficult to understand, it takes a lot of testing. Read more
Published on June 12 2003 by RogerP
2.0 out of 5 stars No other choice
If you are a beginner and you survived using this book, consider it as an accomplishment. This book is quite difficult to understand, it takes a lot of testing. Read more
Published on June 12 2003 by RogerP
2.0 out of 5 stars Anticipate a long and painful reading session
I bought the book because I needed to create a script with Expect quickly, and nothing on the web really took me step-by-step through what I needed to do. Read more
Published on May 13 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Your only alternative, buy it....
This is one of the worst books, written about one of the worst programming languages. The information is scattered and difficult to harvest. Read more
Published on Nov. 22 2002 by "wolfega"
2.0 out of 5 stars I 'Expect'ed more from this book
This book ranks right down there with so many of O'Reilly's Books. It has a terrible index, examples that bear no resemblance to anything at all real-worldish, and simple... Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars Its time for Expect Cookbook
Expect is a life saver in our unix environment and Don Libes has done a great service to the sysadmins of the world by developing this tool. Read more
Published on May 15 2002 by Richard O. Wakefield
3.0 out of 5 stars being the only book isn't a Good Thing
a quick rundown of what I needed to do:
We have RSA fobs that have an algorithmically changing number displayed on them. Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2002 by levl289
5.0 out of 5 stars Very promising - both the tool and the book
Although I've just started reading the book ( first 5 chapters ) it already impressed me with intensive depth the author covers all related topics. Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2001 by Goldin Evgeny
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