Tkinter vs wxPython – Python GUI Libraries

In this “Tkinter vs wxPython” article we will compare two popular GUI libraries in Python, to determine the winner. Through the article, we will attempt to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of using either library, and share some code snippets to help you decide which one you should be learning.


Table of Contents

  • Tkinter
  • wxPython
  • Community
  • Code Comparison
  • Conclusion

Tkinter

As the standard de-facto GUI Library for Python, let’s talk about Tkinter first.

Advantages

Tkinter is one of the oldest GUI libraries around, allowing it to amass a massive userbase eventually leading it to be added in the Standard Python Library. This gives it the benefit of not requiring any additional installation or downloading of packages. It’s also a very mature and stable library, so you are not likely to run into any issues.

Tkinter’s main plus points can be summarized in a single sentence. It’s simple, fast and easy to learn. These three points are the main reason behind Tkinter’s popularity, despite the a few disadvantages that we’ll talk about later on.

A few other less talked about advantages, but important ones none-the-less, are Tkinter’s (Event) Binding system and it’s Layout Management. The Binding System is super flexible and easy to integrate, allowing you to do things like triggering functions upon mouse hover or a keypress.

Likewise, the Layout system in Tkinter is pretty intuitive and easy to setup using one of the three layout managers, pack(), place() or grid(). You will likely find Tkinter’s Layout and Binding System to be more powerful and easier to use than wxPython.

Disadvantages

It undoubtedly has a very “classic” look to it and can be used to create professional applications in the right hands. However, it’s out of the box look is outmatched by almost every other GUI library, such ax wxPython and PyQt.

Another shortcoming in Tkinter is it’s widgets. While they are pretty simple and intuitive to use, they have a noticeably outdated look to them. Furthermore, other libraries like PyQt and wxPython have more powerful and advanced widgets, such as the PyQt video player. (Tkinter matches up pretty well when it comes to the base widgets, but not when it comes to advanced stuff)

ttk

If not for the ttk submodule, Tkinter’s disadvantages would likely convince many to switch over to another GUI library. However, ttk helps to mitigate this, by introducing themes and new styling options, as well as an updated look for many widgets.

Here’s what some of the default tkinter widgets look like.

And here’s the same thing, but with ttk versions of the widgets instead.

As you can see, the lower one looks more neater and modern. There are other special effects like when you hover over the button (which gives it a blue highlight), that is not present in the default Tkinter.

Also, please do note that ttk is not a separate library or package that needs to be downloaded separately. It’s included within the tkinter library, and can easily be imported. You can learn more about ttk and it’s widgets in this ttk Tutorial Series!


wxPython

And for wxPython, which is a Python extension of the wxWidgets Library.

Advantages

wxPython’s main advantages and it’s selling point is in it’s large variety of feature rich widgets, and it’s good design and look. These are also it’s main advantages over the Tkinter library, which looks a bit more dated. Another plus point is that wxPython looks great across all platforms right out of the box, and doesn’t really require any custom tinkering.

It may have a steeper learning curve than Tkinter, but once you grasp it’s workings, you will have access to more features and functionalities than you would in Tkinter.

Those of you interested in a more native windows look will appreciate wxPython, as it resembles the native Windows GUI.

wxPython vs Tkinter - Menus
Creating Powerful Menu’s with Python

The Menu widget is a good example, where wxPython comes built-in with support for Menu Icons, key-board shortcuts and handy menu-item widgets like the check-button-menu which you can see in the image above.

Disadvantages

To start off, the very thing I want to say is that wxPython requires a separate download (luckily the process is simple using pip). This is something that may matter when you are distributing your applications around to other users. Otherwise this is an almost negligible issue if it’s just for personal issue.

Another “con” for wxPython is that it’s a bit slower than Tkinter, though this is a bit hard to measure outside of the initial loading for the window to display.

Another slight concern may be that wxPython is still under active-development, though this also works in it’s favor in a sense. It hasn’t reached the level of stability and maturity that Tkinter has, but it’s active development has the potential to bring in some new features that could help tip the scales in wxPython’s favor.

We’ve already discussed a few areas where Tkinter beats out wxPython in the Tkinter section, so lets not bring that up again. However, if we look at wxPython from a neutral standpoint, there aren’t really any significant cons (aside from the speed issue).


Community

Let’s talk about the community briefly, before we move onto the Code Comparison. Community is pretty important, and determines the lifespan of a library, as well as the amount of effort required to learn the library.

One slight issue I had while learning wxPython was the lack of online tutorials and resources outside of the documentation. Many wxPython tutorials that appear on the first page of google are a decade old, and not updated to conform with the latest wxPython version (Phoenix). This is also partly because wxPython is still under active development. The documentation is decent though, so that does make up for it.

Tkinter on the other hand, has a ton of community support, and there are dozens of up-to-date guides that you can find online. Tkinter’s popularity is evident by the fact that it’s in the Python Standard Library.

In short, when it comes down to Community, Tkinter edges out on wxPython.


Code Comparision

Just for the sake of it, let’s take a look at some code from both libraries, just to so you can get a feel for the syntax.

It’s just a simple example where we create a single button linked to a function. The examples should show you the basic code required to setup a window and a simple widget in wxPython/Tkinter.

First, we have Tkinter.

import tkinter as tk

class Window:
    def __init__(self, master):
        self.master = master
        frame = tk.Frame(self.master)
        
        button = tk.Button(frame, text = "Close Window", command = self.quit)
        button.pack(pady = 30)

        frame.pack()

    def quit(self):
        self.master.destroy()

root = tk.Tk()
root.geometry('200x150')
window = Window(root)
root.mainloop()

Here’s the wxPython version.

import wx
 
class Window(wx.Frame):
    def __init__(self, title):
        super().__init__(parent = None, title = title)
        panel = wx.Panel(self)
 
        closeButton = wx.Button(panel, label = "Close", pos = (50,50), size = (100,30))
        closeButton.Bind(wx.EVT_BUTTON, self.closeWindow)
 
        self.Centre() 
        self.Show()
 
    def closeWindow(self, e):
        wx.CallAfter(self.Close)
         
         
app = wx.App()
window = Window("WxPython Button Tutorial")
app.MainLoop()
wxPython vs Tkinter - Code Comparision

(The default wxPython window size is rather big, hence why it looks that way, don’t be alarmed)


Conclusion

If I could somehow summarize in a sentence, I would be tempted to say that Tkinter is better designed and a little easier to use, but wxPython is more feature-rich, powerful and looks a little bit nicer. This I personally think is a statement that accurately captures the main difference between the two.

Just remember, both are great libraries and both are used to make powerful GUI applications. In the end, what matters more is your own skill in utilizing the libraries features.

If you are looking for a third option, I would recommend PyQt, which is the go-to choice for many Python users when it comes to building powerful and good-looking GUI. You can learn more about it from our PyQt Tutorial Series!

Hopefully we were able to resolve the Tkinter vs wxPython debate for you, and helped you make up your mind.


This marks the end of the Tkinter vs wxPython article. Any suggestions or contributions for CodersLegacy are more than welcome. Questions regarding the article content can be asked in the comments section below.

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