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Safari | Python Developer's Handbook -> Overview of Other GUI Modules





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Overview of Other GUI Modules

Python's powerful object implementation and portability has encouraged the development of many other GUI toolkits. Consequently, you have a number of options to try before deciding which one is the best solution for your project.

Pythonwin/MFC

Pythonwin is a wrapper, written by Mark Hammond, to the Microsoft Foundation Class Library (MFC). It is included within the Windows Python distribution.

Actually, Pythonwin is distributed as two key componentsPythonwin.exe and win32ui.pyd. The latter contains all the bindings to the MFC (tens of MFC objects are exposed, including Common Controls, Property Pages/Sheets, Toolbars, and so on), and the former is a simple wrapper that hosts win32ui.pyd, being just a sample program for the MFC user interface environment.

Pythonwin runs only on Windows, hence, if you need to have your program running on both Win32 and UNIX platforms, you can use the Tk libraries instead.

Using Pythonwin, you can design applications that are bound very tightly to Windows, using MFC in an interactive and interpreted environment to provide the features of the Windows user interface. The user interface environment provided by Pythonwin can be embedded in almost any other applicationsuch as OLE clients/servers, Netscape plugins, and so on.

Inside the Pythonwin distribution, you will find a Help File (Pythonwin.hlp), which is a reference manual for all the objects exposed in Pythonwin. That is a great start for you.

Pythonwin's homepage provides resources documenting the Pythonwin GUI environment. There is also some general documentation on the MFC Architecture. After you install Pythonwin, you can find more details in the documentation that comes bundled in it. For more information, check out the Pythonwin home page at

http://www.python.org/windows/pythonwin/

This next document describes how to imbed the win32ui extension module in your own application:

http://www.python.org/windows/pythonwin/EmbeddingWin32ui.html

wxPython

wxPython is a GUI toolkit for the Python programming language that works like a wrapper to the wxWindows C++ library. It is written in Python and uses the LPGL license.

wxPython is a relatively fast cross-platform toolkit, and maybe it hasn't become the standard Python GUI yet because Tkinter is more portable. As a matter of fact, wxPython is the second most common GUI, coming just after Tkinter.

Currently only Win32 and UNIX-like systems with GTK are supported. There are plans to support wxPython on any platform running wxWindows.

wxWindows is a free, well-established, and well-documented set of libraries that allows C++ applications to compile and run on several different types of computers, with minimal source code changes.

The wx in the name wxWindows means w for Windows, and x for X system. It is supposed to be a way to say that it is a Windows system that supports both platforms.

Each supported GUI (such as GTK+, Windows, Motif, and Mac) has its own library provided by the wxWindows, which exposes natural API for all of them. The API is much simpler to use than other native GUI APIs. Note that you cannot use wxWindows as a GUI translator.

wxWindows provides a lot of extra built-in functionality for you as well, and you can decide whether you want to use it. Such extra features have the main goal of providing ways for you to develop user-friendly GUI applications. Included in this functionality are many useful dialogs, built-in HTML display and printing, support to virtual filesystems, OLE automation controller class, and Open GL support. It also offers access to common operating system operations, such as file copying and deletion, and network support for threads and sockets. wxWindows also supports basic data structures such as arrays, strings, linked lists, and hash tables. If you are coming from an MFC architecture, you can consider yourself lucky because both frameworks are very similar, which makes it easier to port applications from one to another. Python and wxWindows have a great thing in common, both had a object-oriented conception. That was one thing that made it possible to develop wxPython, a fully compatible interface to the libraries. Remember that it is very easy to translate C++ calls to Python calls.

wxPython is a very active Open Source project that makes its source code freely available for anyone who wants to use or modify it. If you want, you can also participate by contributing with new ideas and bug solutions for the project.

Using wxPython, it is easier to run the same program on multiple platforms without modification. Currently, wxPython supports Microsoft Windows and most UNIX-like systems.

This extension module allows programmers to use a strong, highly functional graphical user interface to easily write Python programs that can create instances of wxWindows 2.0 C++ classes, and invoke their methods.

wxPython classes are mirrored as closely as possible to the wxWindows class hierarchy. But, we need to consider the difference between Python and C++, and understand that we don't have a 100% match. However, these distinctions can be easily handled by Python. For example, some methods in the wxWindows library return multiple values by returning argument pointers; the equivalent Python method returns a tuple of values instead.

If you go to wxPython's Web site, you can get the latest version of wxPython, and optionally download a self-installer for Win32 systems. The distribution includes a pre-built extension module, documentation in HTML help format and a set of demos. You also have available, among other things, a Linux RPM, wxPython sources, and documentation in raw HTML.

If you will build wxPython from sources yourself, you will also need the wxWindows sources, available from http://www.wxwindows.org/.

wxPython has its own mailing list. It is not that difficult to find WxPython's creator, Robin Dunn, answering messages on the list. But as in any other list, always check the archives before posting a question.

A number of documentation resources are available for both wxPython and wxWindows. The wxPython interface is very close to the wxWindows implementation in C++, which makes most of the wxPython documentation be just simple notes attached to the C++ documents that describe the places where wxPython is different.

The Web site has a series of sample programs and docum ... ... (Not finished, please download and read the complete file)

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