Making wxPython a standard module?

Grant Edwards grante at
Sat Jun 14 22:43:35 CEST 2008

On 2008-06-14, Torsten Bronger <bronger at> wrote:

>> I've never used any of the designers, but I agree 100% that
>> wxPython code is nasty ugly. wxPython has a very un-Pythonic
>> API that's is, IMO, difficult to use.
> I know that such requests may start a never-ending thread but
> I'd really like to know what you mean with this.


Well, if we want this thread to be never ending, I'd better put
a little dramatic hyperbole into my answer, so here goes... ;)

IMO, a few of the "un-Pythonic" things about wxPython are:

 1) Window ID numbers.

      "You don't need to know what it's for, just pass a -1."
    Their very existence at the user level feels wrong.

    I'm told that for approximately 3 uber-sophisticated
    wxWidgets programmers window IDs can be useful in some rare
    situations.  Meanwhile everybody else working under
    "normal" conditions has to pass a useless positional
    parameter every time they instantiate a widget.  Things that
    are useful only in exceptional situations should only be
    visible in exception situations.

 2) the "flags" parameter.

      "1975 called, and they want their bit-masks back."
    The mashing together of a several dozen different,
    completely unrelated attributes into the "flags" parameter
    is a trick left over from C/assembly language programming
    on machines who's memory size was measure in KB.  Rather
    than OR-ing together a bunch of bit-patterns to make the
    window act the way you want, you should be setting
    individually named object attributes or passing optional,
    named parameters to the class method.

 3) the parent/child tree

      "the only thing less well understood than Window IDs"

    I've been writing wxPython apps for about 9 years now, and
    I still have only a very vague idea what the parent/child
    tree is for.  Everybody I know just makes everything the
    child of the first panel they put in the application frame.
    The same people who specify Window IDs other than -1
    probably use complex parent/child trees for something.

 4) sizers

      "they're like aspirin -- they work, but nobody knows exactly how"

    OK, that's a bit out-of-date since I seem to recall that
    somebody did finally figure out how aspirin works a couple
    years back.  The way sizers work seems pretty complex
    compared to other GUI toolkits I've used, and the extra
    complexity doesn't seem to provide any extra capability.
    The one thing that seems to me to be particular complicated
    is controlling which objects "stretch" in what axis when a
    window is resized.  I've been using them for many years,
    but I've never gotten them more than about 90% figured out.

    Every time I write a wxPython apps, I'm initially surprised
    at its behavior when the window is resized and have to
    spend some trial-and-error time fiddling with the sizer
    parameters.  I don't remember having to do that in tkInter
    or in Trestle: things "just worked".

 5) binding

      "What? you wanted a button that _did_ something when you clicked it?"

    Binding has actually improved a bit in the past few years.
    It's not as obscure as it used to be, but it's still an
    extra explicit step that shouldn't be required. It should
    only take one line of code to create a button widget that
    calls a specified callable when it's clicked. Something
    like this:

      b = wx.Button(label="Click Me", action=myCallable)

    Instead you used to have to create a button and then call
    some utility function in some other object to bind that
    button to a callable (IIRC this was one place where Window
    IDs could be used).  Now, the button actually has a method
    you can use.  It's still an extra step...


      "After all, everything is really just a base-2 integer."
    Since we don't have objects or attributes or named
    parameters or strings, all information must be passed into
    and out of the library as arbitrary integers constants. The
    really great thing about that sort of API is it's
    versatility: you can pass any value any where!  Pass a
    width in pixels where a bitmask of window attributes is
    expected?  No problem! 

Well, the build I was running has finished, so that's probably
Grant Edwards                   grante             Yow! Those people look
                                  at               exactly like Donnie and
                                 Marie Osmond!!

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