Monday, October 25, 2010

wxPython in Action

This year I decided to take the plunge and try to learn how to program GUI interfaces. As I'd been learning Python for a couple of years on and off I looked at the available options - which seemed mainly to be just four - Tkinter, PyGTK, PyQt and of course wxPython.

I discounted Tkinter as it is frequently said to not be good enough for large programming projects, and PyQt because it isn't Open Source and briefly looking at the license details put me off straight away.

I then tried to find information on PyGTK and wxPython. PyGTK is probably a good option but doesn't have any books on the subject and the online documentation can be a bit confusing at times - its a pity that someone who knows PyGTK hasn't written a book on it yet !

Even though the wxPython book was written four years ago and therefore doesn't necessarily include full details of the current version (v2.8.11 at the time of writing) I decided to try the book. And I am very glad that I did - it turned out to be one of my best programming book purchases for some time. It is easy to follow (assuming that you know Python and object oriented programming) and has good examples for many if not most of the things which you are likely to want to use for GUI programmimg.

It has very good sections on creating Frames, text windows, menus, drawing to the Screen Device Context, Buffered Device Contexts where necessary to avoid constant redrawing of the screen, all the standard button and widget types, printing, many types of sizers to automatically arrange your widgets without having to know exactly where they all are on the screen, dialogs (I couldn't believe how easy it was to use the standard File Chooser dialog !) and a great chapter on keeping your code tidy - and after coding a few GUI programs I can see why :)

I have been a programmer for many years (COBOL mainly !) and all in all this book make learning GUI programming as easy as I could ever have imagined. I don't know if a new version of this book is planned but until then if you need to learn Python GUI programming then get this book ! After 2 to 3 months in your spare time & weekends you could be programming Python GUI's reasonably competently !

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