Alternatives to Tkinter

Tkinter may not satisfy your needs. It isn't particularly fast and isn't a good candidate for games or for image-manipulation programs. Its high-level approach means that particularly unusual or specialized user interfaces may be difficult to implement. Or, you may not have the time to learn Tkinter. Fortunately, alternatives are available.

Three cross-platform windowing/GUI libraries stand out, being available for at least Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux/UNIX. The first is the Qt package, which forms the basis for the well-done KDE desktop environment effort, a large project geared toward producing an integrated and comprehensive desktop environment for Linux/ UNIX and compatible operating systems. QT is a rich and powerful GUI framework and also has QT Designer, a capable GUI builder. You can find out more about Qt at http://qt.nokia.com. Also, www.kde.org will give you a chance to browse screenshots of many applications built using KDE.

The next cross-platform GUI option is GTK. This is the GIMP Toolkit and is the basis for the GNOME desktop environment project, which is comparable to KDE. GTK is similar to Qt in scope and capability, and it has also been ported from Linux/UNIX to work on Windows and Mac OS X. Another interesting option with GTK is Glade, a graphical tool to build GUI interfaces for GTK. Glade saves its files in XML format, which can be used directly with a library called libglade or used to generate the appropriate code. A good starting point for finding out about GTK is the GTK website, at www.gtk.org.

Finally, there is the wxPython toolkit, based on the wxWidgets framework. wxWid-gets was created to be portable across Windows and UNIX platforms and has since been extended to Mac OS X and other platforms. wxPython is a strong framework, offering a native look and feel on different platforms, and is widely used. Visit www.wxpython.org to find out more about wxPython.

One thing to keep in mind about all of these GUI options is that they require you to install both the GUI libraries themselves and the Python libraries to use them. This means more work on the user end of things and can lead to issues with making sure the right versions of all the dependencies are installed. On the other hand, developers in many situations believe the tradeoff is more than worth it.

Many other GUI libraries are available. Good descriptions and evaluations are available on the Python wiki's Gui Programming page, which you can find by visiting the main python.org website and searching for "gui programming."

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