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Safari | Python Developer's Handbook -> Python GUI Toolkits





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Python GUI Toolkits

Choosing a toolkit for your graphical user interface (GUI) projects is not a simple thing. You need to research and compare what the features are that each option has to offer. When you decide to stick to one toolkit, you'd better be prepared to use it for some time. Toolkit implementations are so different that it becomes hard to change your code and your way of thinking from one toolkit to another whenever it comes time to move to a different implementation. Most of all, if you always jump from one OS to another, make sure that your GUI of choice is cross-platform, even though it is known how hard it is to implement a cross platform GUI these days (not just in Python). On the other hand, if you know that you will stay in a certain platform, such as Windows or Linux, for some time be sure thatdepending on what platform you choosethere are a lot of options for you. Of course, by choosing a cross platform toolkit, you leave your options open (which is a good thing because you might change your mind in a few years).

Although you might decide to choose something different, the Python community has already chosen the standard choice for GUI development with Pythonit is called Tkinter, and it's part of the standard Python distribution. For more information, see Chapter 15, "Tkinter."

Besides Tkinter, many other GUI solutions are supported by Python. This chapter exposes many of them.

STDWIN, which used to be the first word in GUI for Python, is now just an unsupported and obsolete platform-independent, low-level windowing interface.

Support for the wxWindows portable GUI class library is also available through the wxPython interface, which runs on multiple systems, such as GTK, Motif, MS Windows, and Mac. wxPython is a Python extension module that is quickly becoming acclaimed among Python developers by wrapping many of the wxWindows C++ classes.

Pythonwin is a Python GUI for Windows that includes an interface to the Microsoft Foundation Classes and a Python programming environment that uses this interface. By the way, this programming environment is also written in Python.

Other not-so-famous GUI options are also available:

  • An object-oriented, cross-platform GUI based on the Microsoft Foundation Classes model called Wpy.

  • Interfaces to WAFE, FOX, Motif, PLTK, and so forth.

  • Bindings to Gnome, KDE, OPENGL, QT, and so on.

  • For Mac systems, you can use its large set of modules that support the native Mac toolbox calls. Check out the documentation that comes with the Mac Python port for more information.

  • As well as many others, as shown in this chapter.

As you can see, the number of options is large. The conclusion is that you need to think about today's reality and tomorrow's possibilities. Even though we know that Tkinter is doing a great job today, and it seems that it will for a long time, you should open your mind to other possibilities as well. Be sure that other nice tools out there exist. Tk is slower than most other toolkits (the one reason people find it acceptable is that it double buffers its widgets).

At this time, a couple of other bindings are becoming quite capable, such as the bindings for Gnome/GTK, QT, and KDE. These bindings fit nicer into their respective desktop environments.

The question that I left for you is, "What toolkit will be part of the next generation of standard GUIs for Python?" I see many alternatives: What about you? Most people will stick to Tkinter. That is for sure. And that's also the reason why the next chapter covers this fantastic toolkit implementation.


Last updated on 1/30/2002
Python Developer's Handbook, © 2002 Sams Publishing

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Index terms contained in this section

graphical user interfaces (GUIs)
      toolkits 2nd
            Pythonwin
interfaces
     graphical user (GUI)
            toolkits 2nd
            toolkits;Pythonwin
modules
      Pythonwin
Pythonwin module
toolkits
      graphical user interfaces (GUIs) 2nd
            Pythonwin

2002, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

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