TclAdaSHell is an Ada binding to Tcl/Tk.

This is a short description only; the previous description (from the original developer's hosting site, no longer extant) is here.

The TclAdaShell Sourceforge project is to be found here.

Downloads are to be found here.


The software is released under the GPL Version 2, with the following additional permission:

As a special exception, if other files instantiate generics from this unit, or you link this unit with other files to produce an executable, this unit does not by itself cause the resulting executable to be covered by the GNU General Public License. This exception does not however invalidate any other reasons why the executable file might be covered by the GNU Public License.

Skinny Tcl Binding

TASH includes both skinny and medium bindings to Tcl. The skinny binding is a direct translation of the public Tcl interface, tcl.h. It is implemented in the Ada package Tcl. It includes all the definitions in tcl.h, both functions and data types. All data types are implemented with Ada equivalents from Interfaces.C. All functions take C data types and use return codes for status information.

Medium Tcl Binding

In addition to the skinny binding, TASH provides a medium binding to Tcl. This binding replaces C data types with Ada types (e.g. String is used in place of Interfaces.C.Strings.chars_ptr), uses exceptions in place of return codes and uses generic packages to implement Tcl clientdata types.

The TASHELL Interpreter

The Tcl distribution includes a Tcl shell interpreter, named tclsh. The TASH binding derives its name from the Ada version of the Tcl shell interpreter: Tcl Ada SHell. Just like tclsh, tashell reads and interprets a Tcl script. It is also a good starting point for building a custom Tcl interpreter in which new Tcl commands are implemented in Ada rather than C.

An early paper describing the rationale of the design of TASH is available in several different formats in the docs directory.

Skinny Tk Binding

TASH includes both skinny and medium bindings to Tk. The skinny binding is a direct translation of the public Tk interface, tk.h, and is implemented in the Ada package, Tcl.Tk.

Medium Tk Binding

An early, experimental medium binding to Tk is provided in the Ada package, Tcl.Tk.Ada. This binding does not support all Tk widgets and has not yet been upgraded to take advantage of the new TASH thick binding or the Tcl object system.

The TWASHELL Interpreter

TWASHELL is the Tcl Windowing Ada SHell. It is the Ada version of the Tcl/Tk wish program. Just like wish, it reads and interprets a Tcl/Tk script. It is also a starting point for building a custom Tcl/Tk interpreter in which new Tcl/Tk commands are implemented in Ada rather than C.

An early paper describing how TWASHELL is a Platform-Independent toolkit for development of Graphical User Interfaces is available in several different formats in the docs directory.

Unsupported features

The original TASH included a 'new thick binding'. Unfortunately, this is not supportable in Tcl/Tk 8.5 and later, because it relies on what is now the private implementation of commands such as file, list.

The thick binding will be built if TASH is installed over Tcl/Tk 8.4 or earlier. However, it will be as well not to rely on its continued availability (for example, Mac OS X Leopard had Tcl/Tk 8.4, but Snow Leopard has 8.5).

The GUI developer RAPID does not depend on these unsupported features.



You need an Ada compiler. The instructions here are based on GNAT, though other compilers have been used and there is nothing GNAT-specific about TASH.

You also need Tcl/Tk with working tclsh and wish.

On Unix systems, this should be all aside from the usual development environment (bash/sh, make etc).

On Windows systems, you can get the development environment using Cygwin. Cygwin includes a Tcl/Tk implementation, but unfortunately it's not compatible with GNAT (there's a .dll clash). We recommend that you use the excellent Community edition from ActiveState, and these instructions are written assuming that. We also recommend that you install at C:\Tcl rather than at C:\Program Files\Tcl, to avoid problems with path names with spaces later on.

Extract TASH

Choose a place to build TASH. If you're not using GNAT GPL or FSF GCC, this should be the place you intend to use it from, perhaps your HOME directory.

Assuming this is your home directory, go there and extract TASH by

  $ unzip tash-8.6-0-src-20110917.zip

and then enter the source directory:

  $ cd tash-8.6-0-src-20110917


If you're running a Unix system, open up a shell window at the extracted TASH and say

  $ ./setup.tcl

If you're running Windows, use Windows Explorer to locate and run setup.tcl (it may run on double-clicking, or you may have to right-click and open with wish). Don't try running this step from a Cygwin shell.

In either case, the script sets values for several makefile macros used to customize your TASH build. In most cases, the default values will be OK. If not, type in the correct values. It's important that the C compiler used to compile glue files is compatible with your Ada compiler; one way of achieving this (if you're using GNAT; note, these instructions assume that's the case) is to make sure that GNAT is first on your path. In any case, setup.tcl will use gnatgcc if found.

Press the Save button to create the tash_options.gpr and makeconf files.

You can say

  $ ./setup.tcl --nogui

if you're prepared to accept the defaults (and you're not running Windows).


If you're running on Windows, you'll need to set up Cygwin so that GNAT and ActiveState Tcl/Tk are first on your path in Cygwin (which puts /usr/local/bin and /usr/bin before your Windows path). One way of doing this is to add the following line at the end of ~/.bash_profile:


(assuming that you've got ActiveState Tcl/Tk installed at C:\Tcl and GNAT at C:\GNAT\2011)

That done, run

  $ make all

This will compile the necessary C glue files and build the TASH library as a static library (libtash.a) with .ali files in lib/, and the corresponding Ada source files in include/.

Run tests


  $ make test

This runs several test programs in the test/, demos/ and, with Tcl/Tk 8.4, apps/ directories.

Using TASH

If you're using a GNAT-based compiler, it's strongly recommended that you use the GNAT Project feature.

Using in-place

After the make all stage, you can use TASH where it was built with any GNAT-based compiler.

Make sure that the TASH distribution directory is on your ADA_PROJECT_PATH, by eg

  $ export ADA_PROJECT_PATH=~/tash-8.6-0-src-20110917:$ADA_PROJECT_PATH

Your GPR should include TASH:

  with "tash";

Installing with the compiler

If you're using FSF GCC or GNAT GPL, the best way is to install TASH alongside your compiler. Note, this does not work with Debian (yet), because of its different approach to file system layout for the Ada subsystem.

The remaining instructions assume use on a Unix machine, or Cygwin if on Windows.

Having run make all as above,

   $ make install
(you may need to do this as root on Unix systems).