Python has been around for a few decades and has shown its versatility across different use-cases. From performing server-side tasks to creating desktop applications to even helping with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – Python has helped developers across the globe achieve all of this and more. Another critical use case that Python is often employed for is GUI programming.
In this article, let’s look at what GUI programming in Python is and what are the different applications and frameworks of the same.
What is a Python GUI?
Simply put, a Python GUI is simply a GUI created using the Python programming language. GUI is short for Graphical User Interface. To understand it simply, the interface makes it easier for users to interact with the elements on the screen and manipulate them as per their requirements. A GUI allows for simple web design or word processing programs and provides a ‘What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG)’ option.
Before GUI systems became the norm, command line interfaces were mostly used. These interfaces were difficult to manipulate since they required coded text lines to get some work done. This could include simple tasks such as accessing files to much more complicated tasks – all of which needed to be done using lines of code. It goes without saying, command line interface systems had a poorer user experience and were not as user-friendly as the GUI systems.
With programming languages like Python, it is extremely simple to create GUI systems. Let’s look at some applications of such GUI systems and some useful frameworks in Python available for creating a Python GUI.
Python GUI Uses
Different use cases can be accomplished using Python for GUI programming, especially since the programming language is easy to learn and master. With that said, here are some of the more prevalent Python GUI use cases that you must have come across:
The mobile applications of today have evolved in more ways than one. Not only are the applications supposed to be highly intuitive and user-friendly, but they should also be able to achieve this without compromising on the quality. This enhances the importance of interfaces for users to comment, like, post, share, or converse with others in various ways. All of this is possible using Python GUI programming. Some of the most popular apps that you definitely use are all developed using Python GUI – think about Instagram, Pinterest, Disqus, Dropbox, Uber, and so much more, and you’ll get Python GUI working at their core.
Single- and multiplayer games
Python GUI programming has also helped create some of the games that have obtained exceptional popularity. The language allows you to easily integrate beautiful graphics and interactions into the game, which makes it suitable for developing games and game GUIs. Games like Flappy Bird, Mount and Blade, and many others are programmed in Python by using Python GUI.
Human-computer interaction interfaces for different industries
GUIs have a lot of use in entertainment, gaming, and utility applications, but they are equally (if not more) important for industries that rely on HCI or HMI (Human-Computer Interaction or Human-Machine Interaction). Simply put, HMIs or HCIs are essentially the GUIs that provide operators with an overview of control and monitoring systems. That way, it is easier to pre-emptively detect system anomalies and rectify them before anything goes astray. With Python, all of this is extremely easy to develop without spending a fortune, which makes it a perfect programming language for creating HCI/HNI interfaces.
Popular Python GUI Frameworks
One of the reasons why Python is exceptionally versatile and flexible is the availability of multiple frameworks that are all built for specific purposes and are quite easy and intuitive to use. Likewise, for GUI programming, too, Python offers a number of frameworks for your use.
Here are some of the more useful and prevalent frameworks for when you need to work on Python GUI.
Tkinter is the go-to GUI framework for many Python developers around the globe. So much so that many GUI programmers start their GUI development journey by exploring and working with the Tkinter framework. As a result, there are many good resources for you to understand and get started with this framework. There’s a huge community of Tkinter developers, so your queries can be quickly addressed too.
What really makes Tkinter the de-facto GUI framework is its atomicity. Tkinter is composed of independent widgets. Each widget is, in essence, an individual, customizable component, which can be then combined to come up with a holistic GUI easily. Some examples of widgets that Tkinter uses include buttons, checkboxes, labels, dialogs, frames, and such. Check out the Tkinter framework documentation to get the complete list of widgets and attributes it allows.
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The purpose of developing the PySimpleGUI framework was to simplify GUI programming for beginners and freshers. As a result, the framework combines essential and intuitive features of other GUI frameworks like Qt and Tkinter. Essentially, PySimpleGUI provides programmers with standardized codes that can be used to build the entire GUI from scratch in a lego-like manner. This allows even the most beginners to quickly get started with GUI programming and build beautiful and intuitive GUI applications.
Qt for Python: PySide2 / Qt5
Qt5 and PySide2 are different frameworks, but they were developed by the same parent company – under the Qt for Python initiative. As a result, these two frameworks are highly compatible and have almost all similar APIs.
Both of these frameworks are highly known and used for their powerful APIs that are extremely flexible as well as simple. Rich documentation and illustrated examples are available to help beginners and experts easily get started with these frameworks. The thing that makes these two frameworks stand out is the extensive community support of over a million developers. This makes it a useful framework for people who like collaborating and brainstorming with other developers during the development process.
Lastly, there’s PyGUI, which stands for Python GUI. This framework allows developers to create interactive GUIs using native Python elements. As a result, the framework uses extremely lightweight GUIs and minimal code between the Python application and the platform where it runs. So, for developers that like working on the barebones of GUI programming, this might be a great framework to begin with.
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Python GUI is an interesting journey without a tricky steep learning curve. All you need is some dedication and effort, and you’ll be on your way to creating amazing GUI applications using the Python programming language. However, the scope of Python goes way beyond just GUI programming and touches upon all the critical areas of operations today – especially data science and business analytics.
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What is meant by Python GUI?
GUI simply means graphical user interface. So, Python GUI essentially refers to interfaces created using the Python programming language.
What are some of the popular Python GUI frameworks?
Some of the popular and most-used Python GUI frameworks include: Tkinter PySimpleGUI PyGUI, and more.
What are some of the applications of Python GUI in day-to-day life?
Python GUI is all around us - on most apps and games you use on your phone. Python GUI finds applications in mobile apps, game development, HCI applications, and so much more.