In praise of PythonCard

Ron Stephens rdsteph at
Sun Apr 20 00:15:41 CEST 2003

I have been playing around with Python for about two years now. I'm 
still a duffer at best, so take whatever I say with a large grain of salt.

Still, I want to point out what a good time I am having with <a href = 
"">PythonCard</a> as an easy 
gui-builder for Python scripts.

I believe it is the easiest way to create simple gui-based programs with 
Python (with the possible exception of <a href = 
"">easygui</a>, which is also 
really great, but more limited in functionality).

For any newbies or wanna-be gui programmers, I highly recommend you take 
a look at PythonCard. There is a great online <a href = "">tutorial</a> 
written by Dan Shafer that is simple and one can walk-thru it in a 
couple of hours and be ready to go.

At first glance, one aspect of PythonCard might unnecesarily intimidate 
newcomers. PythonCard programs consist of two code files instead of just 
one. In addition to the normal .py source code file, there is a resource 
file with a .rsrc extension. While this may be intimidating at first to 
extreme newbies (it was for me :-))), in fact it is a great advantage 
for simplicity and ease of learning and use. The resource file is 
actually a very easy to understand little "gui-painter". That is, one 
opens an existing small PythonCard app and modifies its resource file. 
The resource file contains the layout information for all the widgets. 
Best of all, the PythonCard propertyEditor (it opens automatically when 
you open a resource file) allows you to simply choose which widgets you 
want from a menu, and then you simply drag and drop the widget into 
place and maybe change a few attributes; all automaticallY! The layout 
code is, essentially, writtn for you.

But the propertyEditor and resource file combination is simple and easy, 
not like the big GUI-painters in big IDEs like Visual Studio that take 
longer to learn than the whole Python programming language. 
propertyEditor and respource files are the answer to our prayers for a 
simple, easy way to create gui layouts for Python code.

PythonCard loads so easily on Windows that no one can possibly fail. It 
comes in a self extracting .exe file and takes care of all the work. For 
me, installing PythonCard on a SUSE Linux box and also on a Mac OS X 
machine was trickier; I succeeded, but with some difficulties. I will 
just say, PythonCard works on both systems, but one should follow the 
detailed instructions very carefully and to the letter, and it helps to 
have a clean machine without any previous version of wxPython installed. 
(PythonCard runs on top of, so to speak, the wxPython toolkit.)

By all means give PythonCard a try. Kevin Altis and his team are doing a 
great job. I apologize in advance for any technical mistakes I have made 
in this post, I am only trying to explain why PythonCard appeals so much 
to relative newcomers to Python and programming.

Ron Stephens

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