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6.1  Basic Concepts of the Interface

The interface is used by starting separate ECLiPSe and Tcl processes, and then attaching the Tcl process to the ECLiPSe process. Once attached, the Tcl and ECLiPSe processes can communicate much as in the embedded interface: ECLiPSe goals can be sent from the Tcl side to the ECLiPSe side via the remote predicate call (ec_rpc) mechanism, and further I/O queues can be established between the ECLiPSe and Tcl processes to allow streams of bytes to sent from one side to the other.

The attached Tcl process can also be detached from the ECLiPSe process. This disconnection will terminate and clean-up the links between the two processes. Thus, typically, if the programmer wants to allow a particular application to be usable through both the Tcl remote and embedding interfaces, the only code that needs to be specific to one or the other interface is the code associated with starting and termination of the application (the attach and detach operations in the case of the remote interface).

The interaction between the Tcl and ECLiPSe is mediated by a version of thread-like control flow of the embedded interface. The interface distinguishes two `sides': the Tcl side, which is the Tcl process, and the ECLiPSe side, which is generally the ECLiPSe process1. At any given time, either the ECLiPSe side or the Tcl side has `control'. When the Tcl side has control, execution of the ECLiPSe process is suspended. When the ECLiPSe side has control, the Tcl side cannot initiate the execution of ec_rpc goals. The interface can implicitly transfer control from one side to the other (e.g. when processing synchronous I/O), or it can be explicitly transferred.

An ECLiPSe process can have several attached remote processes. Each remote process is identified by a control name, which is the ECLiPSe name for a special control connection between the two sides.

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