Scripting your Applications

Posted by Kaya Kupferschmidt • Monday, March 20. 2006 • Category: C++
In my last entry I was talking about a neat tool generating reflection information for arbitrary C++ programs. Today I found another useful tool that is somewhat related to reflection, namely scripting. There are many scripting languages out there especially taylored for use with C and C++ programs (like Lua) or powerful toolkits for binding your code to a separate scripting language (like Boost::Python).

The tool called SWIG falls into the later category, but is much more powerful than anything I have seen before. Not only it produces the needed wrapper classes automatically, it has also support for 13(!) scripting languages. So processing your header files with SWIG enables you (or the users of your library/application) to use your work with 13 different languages at a finger-snip! (And of course, no one is holding you back to sell each language-binding separately...)

The only question left open might be what scripting is good for. Scripting allows end-users to interact with your program in an easy and convenient way and offers the complete power of a mature language at the same time. Many games use scripting languages in order to control the game logic, most operating systems use scripts (shell-scripts or .BAT files) for doing small jobs. Scripting simply opens a huge door for your developers and even for your customers to use your program in many new ways you never though of. John Ousterhout (creator of Tcl) also has written a paper that describes the benefits of scripting languages.


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