Book Review: Building Network Management Tools with Tcl/Tk

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This book describes two SNMP extensions to Tcl. The first, Tickleman, is a commercial product that is available for a fee. The second, Scotty, is a package that is freely available via the Internet.
Obtaining the Source Code

Instructions for obtaining the sample code and the SNMP Tcl extensions are provided in the book. The sample code is available from Net Mgmt Solutions, Inc. and requires a login and password wich are provided in the book's preface. In order to access the download page, you must give your name, phone number and e-mail address, which is a bit much as far as I am concerned. Personally, I feel the book should have been packaged with a CD or floppy containing the latest releases of Tcl/Tk, Scotty and the sample code. The Scotty code was downloaded from the web.

Overall Impression

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the use of Tcl/Tk to develop both stand-alone and web-based network management tools. If you are a network consultant or system administrator, it should provide you with a good starting point for the development of custom tools not present in your current tool set. The authors provide information about Tcl/Tk and the Scotty and Tickleman SNMP extensions to Tcl. With this information, you should be able to start with the code from any of their sample applications and tweak it into the network management tool that best meets your needs.

For readers wanting an introduction to Tcl/Tk and SNMP, I think this book serves well to a certain degree. If you are new to SNMP or networking, you may want to look on the Internet for a more complete introduction. As far as Tcl/Tk goes, the book does a fairly good job of describing things, but eventually you will need to augment it with a Tcl reference or programming primer. The authors list (at the end of Chapter 15) additional books, newsgroups and web sites that provide information about SNMP, Tcl/Tk and network management in general.

Depending upon the phase of the moon, you'll find Syd developing software for Macintosh (Apple's MacX 1.5 and 2.0), the X Window System (Z-Mail for UNIX) and even Windows NT (NetManage's NFS client). He was a member of the team that produced the XIE example implementation for X11R6. In his spare time, he enjoys buzzing around the San Diego coastline in Cessnas and Piper Archer IIs. He can be reached at slogan@cts.com.

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