Your Python program may be powerful, but if you intend for everyday people to make use of it, making a graphical user interface (GUI) for your program is a must. This article discusses the importance of having a user-friendly interface and a few GUI tools you can consider adding to make your Python program even better.
Nearly every piece of software has a functional user interface if it is intended to be used by the everyday person. A well-planned user interface gives off a good first impression to your users and helps them use your program to its full functionality.
A program’s user interface includes features such as buttons, progress bars, menu options and navigation buttons for your user to easily navigate to different parts of your program. Having an intuitive user interface can make the difference between a good program and a great program, as it improves the overall user experience by helping people get to what they want to do quickly.
That said, starting on a graphical user interface for your Python program may be a big leap, especially if you are still new to programming. Fortunately, Python has a few tools that make it easy to design a functional user interface for different types of programs. Let’s have a look at a few of these options.
Pygame is free and open-source, mainly targeted at programmers making games. The Pygame library is extremely portable and offers excellent cross-platform support, which means it can run on almost any platform and operating system. If you are making a Pygame project, the Pygame website (pygame.org) offers an avenue for you to launch your project or simply catch up on the latest Pygame news and updates.
To install Pygame, open up your command prompt and enter the following:
pip install pygame
Tkinter is possibly the most commonly used GUI when it comes to Python programming, coming as a standard package with Python. The library is made up of a set of modules, the main one of which is the Tkinter module itself, which can be imported into any Python source file. Tkinter offers built-in functions to create graphical interface elements such as text, buttons or input.
Tkinter should already be included with your standard installation of Python. To start writing a Tkinter application, simply import the module in your source file. Note that for Python 2.x, the Tkinter module is called “Tkinter” (with a capital T), while in Python 3.x, the Tkinter module is called “tkinter” (with a lower case t). If you’d like to make sure your program can run on both Python 2 and Python 3, import the Tkinter module via the following code:
import Tkinter as tk
import tkinter as tk
Qt itself is a cross-platform C++ library for implementing APIs that can access many aspects of desktop and mobile systems, including location services, near-field communication, Bluetooth and more. PyQt is a popular cross-platform binding for Qt, which allows developers to create applications on a number of supported platforms, including iOS and Android devices, using the Python programming language. In short, PyQt is highly versatile and allows for an easy switch to C++ if you decide to explore other programming languages in the future. Or if you plan on doing more than just a graphical user interface with your application, PyQt would be great for making more functionality out of your devices.
To install PyQt, open up your command prompt and enter the following:
pip install PyQt5
The installation for pyjs can vary depending on whether you wish to use it as a user or as a developer. For the full breakdown on the installation procedure, view the pyjs GitHub page.
Once installation is complete, you can import the module into your Python source file with the following:
While you can probably make any Python graphical user interface library work for any application, some interfaces are more targeted at certain types of applications. For example, the Pygame library tends to be more for real-time gaming applications. Pygame has an option for the developer to set the frame rate with a single line of code, allowing for periodic updates to the interface which can be very useful in a game when refreshing points, scores or player stats.
Depending on your comfort level with interface programming, you may also find certain libraries more friendly to beginners. For instance, Tkinter makes for an excellent starting point for anyone new to creating graphical user interfaces in Python. There are also many tutorials specifically on creating one’s first application with Tkinter, which beginners may find especially useful.
If you are more concerned with keeping your application versatile and potentially able to make the switch to other programming languages, you may want to consider using PyQt, which offers seamless integration with C++. PyQt also allows you to program mobile applications using Python, which may be useful if you wish to explore cross-platform development without going too much into mobile application programming.
Are you required to create a web-based application but prefer to do so in Python? In that case, you could look into Pyjamas, which allows you to code completely in Python with no prior knowledge of designing web applications. Pyjs also allows you to convert your web application to a desktop application without having to reprogram anything, which can be helpful if versatility is what you’re after.
Of course, the best way to figure out which GUI library works for your program is to try them out yourself! Apart from those listed here, there are many other interface programming tools specifically for Python applications. If you are still undecided on which library you should choose, there is no harm in giving all of them a try to gauge their capabilities and suitability for your project. Remember that there are a number of helpful tutorials out there on how to create applications using each Python library.
Dec 11, 2019