Questions on using Qt or wxWindows with Python and OS X

Kevin Walzer sw at
Wed Jun 1 03:20:40 CEST 2005

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I maintain a lot of wxPython and PyQt packages for OS X: in fact, I
released the first generally available binary installer for PyQt on the
Mac. I'm not at an advanced level with either toolkit, but here's my two

1. Both are robust in the sense of being powerful, fairly comprehensive
toolkits. You probably know that already, but in terms of Python
development on the Mac, either is a viable choice.

2. In terms of developer resources, I'd say that wxPython is clearly
farther along on the Mac. There are more users, more informal
documentation (in terms of tutorials, wikis, etc., especially for
Mac-specific issues), more active development from a hands-on core of
developers, and so on. wxPython also has the advantage of looking
completely native, as it wraps the native Aqua widgets. The wxPython-OS
X package has been a bit buggy in the past, but now at 2.6.0 I'd say
it's very strong.

3. With PyQt, you're more in the wilderness. The Mac community is *very*
small, and as such there's a lot of uncharted territory in terms of
documentation, best practices, etc. The most lively community for PyQt
is, not surprisingly, based on Linux; you'll find mailing lists and lots
of online tutorials geared for Linux. Supporting the Mac also isn't the
main priority for the chief developer of PyQt. I'm not an experienced
enough Python developer to add much to PyQt per se: I released the
binary package simply because I had some experience building Qt apps,
wanted to try PyQt anyway, and figured it would be a useful service to
become the de-facto Mac maintainer.

Another drawback to PyQt is that Qt apps, in general, don't look as
native as wxPython. The differences are subtle but they are noticable.

Even with these cautios, PyQt runs very well on the Mac, and I've built
a few PyQt applications that ran with no modification on my part.
wxPython apps require some hacks to get all the Mac gui conventions
right (i.e. the help menu, about menu, etc.)  This is a testament to the
fact that, at its core, Qt is a very well-designed and documented toolkit.

My personal preference is for wxPython, as it just fits my brain better.
Qt's "signals and slots" approach is, for me, counterintuitive. But I'll
~ continue to support PyQt as long as there's a need for it.

If you want more information, see my software site:

I've also done a lot of discussion of Python development on the Mac at
my blog:

Hope this helps.

Kenneth McDonald wrote:
| If this is not an appropriate newsgroup for this type of posting,
| please let me know and (if possible) suggest an alternative. I've
| done a fair bit of research on the net, but information is scattered
| all over the place and I haven't been able to find mailing lists
| relating specifically to python and UIs.
| I'd like to start using Python for some GUI programming again. I'd
| like to use Tk, but it seems to be dying a slow death, so it's
| probably time to look at wxPython and PythonQt.
| I'd appreciate any comments on the relevant merits of these two
| libraries, both with respect to Python and more generally. I know
| about the differences in licensing, that's not an issue. My most
| specific concerns are ease of use (which includes how much in the way
| of documentation or examples for using through Python are available,
| and how easy the Python libs are to use in each case); availability of
| a generally capable styled text widget, as one of the things I need to
| build is an editor, which needs to be able to handle different fonts,
| styles, tabs, and so forth; and ease of installation on a Macintosh,
| since that is my preferred dev platform, and installing things made
| for other UNIX variants can be a little wonky at times.
| I'm also curious as to the quality of documentation available for
| wxPython and wxWindows, and any differences between the
| wxWindows text widget (which is generally Scintilla I believe),
| and the Qt text widget classes. I've had a hard time finding good
| docs for wxWindows or wxPython, and the bit of documentation
| on Scintilla I've found and read seems to indicate that it has some
| restrictions, such as needing to use the same line height for all lines
| regardless of content.
| Many thanks for any feedback you can give.
| Cheers,
| Ken

- --

Kevin Walzer, PhD
WordTech Software--Open Source Applications and Packages for OS X
mailto:sw at
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