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Outstanding Tutorial on writing GTK+ 3 GUI Applications with Python

2016-12-12 Tags: hacking gtk python

GUI programming has always been a black art to me. The idea of event-driven applications with an endless infinite loop listening for events boggles my mind a bit and runs counter to my traditional understand of what algorithms look like.  This is something that I struggle the most with Javascript (which has the benefit of having most of the details abstracted away by the browser), and something that I have never been able to quite grasp using traditional GUI tools like GTK, Qt, and even .NET.

The trend these days is to just use Electron. It seems like more and more apps (Slack, Wordpress, Ghost, Postman, Visual Studio Code, etc.) are drinking the cross platform cool aid. I read this article which discusses some of the negative aspects of choosing Electron as a GUI framework. Drew makes some great points and the following paragraph inspired me to once again take a stab at actually learning a proper GUI framework.

Learn how to use GTK or Qt. Maybe Xwt is more up your alley. How about GNOME’s Vala thing? Learn another programming language. Learn Python or C/C++ or C#. Fun fact: it’ll make your JavaScript better, and once you have it in your toolbox you can make more educated decisions on the appropriate tool to use when you face your next problem.

Source: Electron considered harmful - Drew Devault's Blog

PyGObject (aka PyGI) is the new way of developing GTK+ 3 GUI applications in python. On Ubuntu, installing the python3-gi package is enough to get started making your application "do something". I found an excellent tutorial on using PyGI which does a great job explaining both basic and advanced concepts.

This tutorial gives an introduction to writing GTK+ 3 applications in Python.

Source: The Python GTK+ 3 Tutorial — Python GTK+ 3 Tutorial 3.4 documentation

In addition, this tutorial also has a section on how to use Glade, which is a GUI tool for building GUIs. For any substantial project hard coding the UI is going to get old pretty quickly.

The Python GObject Introspection API is massive. It solves a lot of common problems and also lets you work with a lot of existing GNOME applications. Looking forward to making something useful soon.