Graphical Python Apps in Minutes

Tutorials – TkInter

Article from Issue 199/2017
Author(s):

Expand your Python knowledge and write GUI apps with a smattering of code, thanks to the TkInter toolkit.

We Linux Voicers have, over the years, argued for more consistency on the Linux desktop. We appreciate that choice and diversity is good, and there are reasons why the Gtk and Qt graphical toolkits exist. Indeed, competition between them can be a good thing. But the downside to this – especially if you're running a mixture of Gtk and Qt apps on your desktop – is inconsistency in the user experience. It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, and apps using different toolkits can still get along nicely, but sometimes you notice some rough edges.

With this in mind, we'd normally be reticent to bring another toolkit into the mix (see the "Other Toolkit Options" box). But that's what we're going to do in this tutorial, with TkInter. This lets you create graphical applications in Python – providing you with buttons, menus, text entry boxes, and other widgets. But, why are we devoting these pages to TkInter, when Python interfaces to Gtk and Qt already exist?

Well, TkInter has some significant advantages. First, it's Python's de facto GUI toolkit and is usually installed by default alongside the language. Whereas PyQt and PyGtk can be quite fiddly to install – especially on other platforms like Windows and Mac OS – TkInter is always there. You can write cross-platform apps and only require your end users to install Python. Second, it's quite easy to use. If you have a command-line Python script and want to add a graphical layer on top of it, TkInter lets you do this with relatively few lines of code.

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