About deployment

Tcl has several distinct features which aren’t very evident or well-known, even when we talk about the seasoned TCL developers. One of those features is Tcl’s ability of taking the software deployment process to an altogether higher level. Many people perceive deployment as ‘configure && make’ or simple compilation of the scripts into an executable file. Tcl features various technologies including something referred to as ‘Starkits’ which takes the process of application deployment to an altogether new level of convenience, flexibility and power. Let’s look into it in some more detail!

So, you’re done with development and it’s time to ship the goods?! Deployment of applications coded in scripting languages usually implies asking the users to also download the interpreter for the script language, various app extensions and then the actual scripts (after editing them for path adjustment etc. if needed). Majority of programming languages also provide some kind of tool for easy compilation of scripts and language interpreter inside one executable file.

When it comes to the application deployment process in Tcl, the process becomes very convenient, flexible and powerful, regardless of whether it is an open source application or a commercial one. You can do many more things than are possible in other kinds of dynamic languages.

This is where ‘Starkits’ comes into the picture. It’s a one key deployment technology or a single-file deployment mechanism which makes it possible for you to easily deliver installation-free and self-contained Tcl Tk applications.

Startkits creates an illusion of a file consisting of a file system in itself! The end-user perceives it as a single file, whereas the application code perceives it as an entire directory of images, extensions, packages, scripts and whatever else is required by your application. Hence, all that your end-users need to do is simply copy the application. When they do that, they’ll effectively receive the entire development environment on their systems, without the need of performing any special installation.

Now, talking about cross-platforms, they work even better! Starkits can be made cross-platform by inclusion of the compiled code meant for multiple platforms. When you do that, the correct version of Starkits will automatically get picked up and used. What’s even better is that you can build Starkits on almost any platform, in a manner that it can be delivered on any other platform.

Following are some interesting Starkits facts you should know:
– Starkits are created using a completely transacted database.
– There is no need of having different binary and source releases.
– You can ship it in the form of a cross-platform version or simply bundle an interpreter for creating a one-platform specific executable file.
– Seamless integration with Tcl Dev Kit compiler, allowing for comprehensive protection of the source code for all commercial developers.