The tclXess Interface


tclXess is an interface between the Tcl interpreter and Tk toolkit available from U.C. Berkeley and the Xess spreadsheet from Applied Information Systems. It is designed to work with Tcl 7.0 (or later) and Tk 3.4 (or later); the preferred release is Tcl 7.3 and Tk 3.6. It will not work with earlier releases of Tcl and Tk.

Xess is the X Windows real-time, high-performance spreadsheet. It provides a rich suite of built-in functions and a powerful "connection" API and library for writing programs that communicate with the spreadsheet. tclXess is both an example of a program based on that API and an implementation of that API for Tcl/Tk programmers.

tclXess was originally written by Kevin B. Kenny at GE Corporate R&D;, supported by the DARPA Initiative in Concurrent Engineering (DICE) through DARPA Contract MDA972-88-C-0047.

tclXess is now developed and maintained by Applied Information Systems,

tclXess Distribution

The distribution for tclXess is available at several tcl archive sites, or you may download tclXess via ftp now.


The documentation for the commands is sparse at present. A users' manual (just ASCII for now) is available in the file tclXess.txt, but it is lacking examples, and may be incorrect in spots. It is being actively developed, and we appreciate all comments.

There are preludes on most of the command processing routines in the tclXess source code that explain the routines. The source code style should be familiar to anyone familiar with Tcl/Tk source code.

Compiling and installing tclXess

This release should compile and run with little or no effort on DEC MIPS workstations running Ultrix, HP PA-RISC workstations running HP/UX release 9.0 or later, and Sun workstations running either SunOS 4.0 or Solaris 2.3. The latest version has been built and tested mainly on Solaris, but previous versions were tested mainly on Ultrix. Because tclXess is configured using GNU Autoconf, it is likely to build on other platforms as well. Please notify AIS of any bugs you find, or if you have any difficulties building.

To build tclXess, do the following:

  1. Install Tcl and Tk. It is preferable that the Tcl, Tk and tclXess source directories all be subdirectories of the same directory, or that Tcl and Tk be built and installed in /usr/local/.
  2. Install tclLoad if demand loading of runtime packages is desired.
  3. Make sure that the directory that contains wish and tclsh is listed in $PATH. If you have installed tclLoad, make sure that the directory containing dwish, dtclsh, and tclLoadVars is also in $PATH.
  4. Type ./configure in this directory. This procedure runs a configuration script created by GNU autoconf, which configures tclXess for your system and creates a Makefile.
  5. Type make. This procedure will create a library, libtclXess.a, and an interpreter application called tclXess that will allow you to enter Tcl commands interactively or execute script files.
  6. If the make fails, you will have to personalize the Makefile. Contact for assistance.
  7. At this point you can use the tclXess command to play around with the product.
  8. When you are ready to install the tclXess package, type make install.

User-Contributed Code

We would like to include user-contributed examples in future versions of tclXess. If you develop an application in tclXess that you would like to share with other users, please send it to us. A uuencoded gzipped tar file is the preferred mechanism. A binary for gunzip is included with Xess; the same binary, with a filename of gzip, is used to gzip files. Please send your contribution to

Copyright statement

Copyright (c) 1992 General Electric. All rights reserved.
Copyright (C) 1994 Applied Information Systems. All rights reserved.

Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software and its documentation for any purpose and without fee is hereby granted, provided that the above copyright notice appear in all copies and that both that copyright notice and this permission notice appear in supporting documentation, and that the name of General Electric not be used in advertising or publicity pertaining to distribution of the software without specific, written prior permission. General Electric makes no representations about the suitability of this software for any purpose. It is provided "as is" without express or implied warranty.

This work was supported by the DARPA Initiative in Concurrent Engineering (DICE) through DARPA Contract MDA972-88-C-0047.

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Applied Information Systems, Inc.
100 Europa Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 USA
1-919-493-7563 FAX