Graphical user interface, or GUI, as it’s more commonly known, is one of the three main cornerstones of any application, along with security and performance. Maintaining the right balance between these three vital aspects can help you ensure an intuitive and seamless user experience. We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a user interface that’s minimalistic and, at the same time, robust. Gone are the days when developers would lose their minds creating the perfect user interface in the absence of powerful tools like frameworks.
Best Python GUI Frameworks to Know
Due to Python’s increasing popularity, smooth learning curve and widespread adoption in the real world, it makes for a compelling programming language to learn. Once you gain a firm grasp on the basics of Python programming, the next challenge you’ll face is building the user interface. Luckily, there are a lot of frameworks for Python that specialize in helping developers build breathtaking, yet intuitive user interfaces to go with modern applications.
The goal behind this article is to help anyone out there who’s struggling to find the right framework for building interactive GUIs with the several GUI frameworks Python has to offer.
What Is a Graphical User Interface (GUI)?
A graphical user interface(GUI) is the first thing your user sees and interacts with when he opens your application or website. Having a good GUI goes a long way in increasing your platform’s reputation and user count. A user interface usually includes a host of visual elements like icons, buttons, graphics, display text and several other forms of input, like checkbox, text input boxes and more.
It’s the combination of all these elements that makes up a vital part of your application or website’s user experience. Input to these visual elements can be from the usual mediums, such as keyboards, mouses and touchscreens.
Best Python GUI Frameworks for Developers
Focusing on perfecting the user interface is a good thing, but as important as it is to offer the best possible user experience, delivering it without spending an absurdly high amount of resources on it is equally important. Python has loads of frameworks for developing GUIs, and we have gathered some of the most popular Python GUI frameworks in our list below.
Riverbank Computing’s PyQt package is built around the Qt framework, which is a cross-platform framework used for creating a plethora of applications for various platforms. The PyQt5 package includes a detailed set of bindings for Python based on the latest version, V5, of the Qt application framework.
Similar to the Qt5 framework, PyQt5 is also fully cross-platform. By leveraging the power of PyQt5, developers can build applications for platforms like Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and more.
When it comes to creating GUIs, the PyQt5 arsenal offers the impressive QtGui and QtDesigner module, which provide numerous visual elements that you can implement with a simple drag and drop. Of course, you can also choose to create these elements with code, allowing you to create both small-scale and large-scale applications with ease. Python’s modularity trickles down to PyQt5 in the form of extensions, giving you a lot more features than just GUI building. If you like what you see here, you can give PyQt5 a try with the command
pip install PyQt5.
Often referred to as the go-to GUI toolkit by a majority of Python developers, Python contributor Fredrik Lundh created Tkinter to equip modern developers with a standard interface to the Tk GUI toolkit with its Python bindings. In Tkinter’s world, most of the visual elements that we’re familiar with are called widgets, and each of these widgets offers a different level of customizability.
Tkinter comes baked into current Python installers for all major operating systems and offers a host of commonly used elements that we’re sure you must be familiar with. Some of those visual elements include:
- Frame: Provides a structure to your application.
- Buttons: Used for taking input from the user.
- Checkbuttons: Used for making selections.
- Labels: Displays textual information.
- File dialogs: Uploads or downloads files to and from the application.
- Canvas: Provides a space for drawing/painting things like graphs and plots.
Written using a mix of Python and Cython, Kivy is an open-source GUI framework for building some of the most intuitive user interfaces encompassing multi-touch applications that implements a natural user interface (NUI).
A NUI is a kind of interface where the user naturally learns about the various interactions provided by a user interface that’s usually kept invisible.
With Kivy, interface designers can code once and deploy to multiple platforms, while the built-in support for OpenGL ES 2 allows them to use modern and powerful graphics and design techniques. The most common use of the Kivy GUI framework in the real-world can be seen in our Android and iOS applications. Other widespread implementations of the framework can be seen in the user interfaces of Linux, Windows, Raspberry Pi and Mac OS devices. You can easily add this framework to your environment by following the installation instructions provided on their website.
Developed by programmer Robin Dunn, wxPython is a Python extension module that acts as a wrapper for the wxWidgets API. wxPython allows Python developers to create native user interfaces that add zero additional overhead to the application. The cross-platform capabilities of wxPython allow deployment to platforms like Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Unix-based systems with little-to-no modifications.
The developer later released Project Phoenix as the successor to wxPython with support for Python 3. It has been built from the ground-up to offer a cleaner Python implementation of the wxWidgets toolkit. If you’re interested in giving this framework a try, you’d be happy to know that the latest update v4.1.1 has added it to the Python Package Index. With its addition to PyPI, the downloads have become much smoother with the command
pip install wxPython==4.1.1.
This open-source Libavg GUI framework uses Python as the scripting language of choice and serves as one of the best frameworks for developing user interfaces for modern touch-based devices. On the graphics-intensive side, video decoding, visual effects and compositing are all handled by the hardware-acceleration achieved via OpenGL and GPU shaders to deliver smooth and graphic-rich visuals.
Libavg supports a majority of commonly used touch drivers and offers a range of features, such as camera support, text alignment, animation support, GPU effects like blur, shadows and much more. There’s also an advanced screen layout engine that offers rotation, scaling, cropping, blending modes and other manipulation techniques for visual elements.
Because it’s built with C++, it ensures incredibly fast execution times. Developers who want the absolute best performance out of their application will not be disappointed with libavg. You can find the installation instructions on their website’s downloads page.
Isn’t the name of this framework a dead giveaway of what it is meant to do? Those starting fresh with Python application development may find a lot of Python GUI frameworks daunting at first. Developer Mike B. created PySimpleGUI in 2018 to make it easier for Python newbies to get into GUI development without spending too much time getting into the intricacies of the more advanced GUI development options available.
PySimpleGUI takes four of the widely popular Python GUI frameworks, which includes Qt, Tkinter, wxPython and Remi, and it turns down their difficulty a few notches by implementing most of the boilerplate code. The result?
Beginners get the option to pick the GUI framework of their choice, along with easy access to the various visual elements that come with it to create intuitive user interfaces without diving deep into the frameworks. This doesn’t mean seasoned developers will only get access to the simplified versions of their favorite frameworks, the option to get full native functionality still exists.
The PyForms GUI framework is a Python software layer at its core for the widely famous Windows Forms, which allows developers to create some amazing and highly interactive user interfaces. PyForms’ cross-platform capabilities make it easier for the developers to create applications for multiple platforms with little changes to the code, eliminating unnecessary slowdowns. PyForms provides instances of several popular graphic-centric libraries, such as PyQt, OpenGL and more, to help developers create user interfaces for their applications.
The PyForms library is split into three different sections that include PyForms-GUI, PyForms-Web and PyForms-Terminal. Each of these layers allows the execution of the PyForms application in web, terminal and Windows GUI. With a focus on modularity, PyForms is perfect for quickly creating prototypes, and it can also make short work of the maintenance at later stages of the application. Installation is handled with the command
pip install pyforms, which adds all three libraries, or if you want to use the libraries individually, that’s possible, too.
Remember the framework wxPython that we discussed earlier? Just like wxPython was a wrapper for the wxWidgets GUI toolkit, the Wax GUI framework is a more developer-friendly wrapper of wxPython. Like other popular frameworks, wax is also implemented as an extension module for Python. And for those wondering, yes, Wax supports building cross-platform applications.
The idea behind Wax is to offer application developers simpler access to the Python elements and objects for building GUIs by removing the low-level aspects of wxPython. While the underlying platform wxWindows is extremely efficient as it is, the wax GUI framework enjoys the same level of efficiency and speed as it uses the native widgets provided by the platform.
PySide2 is built by the same company that gave us the widely popular application development framework Qt. Upon looking closely, you’ll come across the term “Qt for Python Project,” which is nothing but the task of porting PySide to support Qt5. Whereas the framework itself is now being called PySide2.
It’s now dubbed as the official cross-platform Python module for the Qt for Python project. The project provides Python developers access to a proven collection of tools and libraries for the fast and flexible creation of amazing user interface tools that Qt5 and above has to offer.
PySide2 also offers powerful community support for the developers who are looking for it. PySide2’s documentation section has been divided into areas like tutorials, video guides, examples, API docs and more, to extensively cover the variety of topics included in the framework. AMD’s Radeon Control Software, cockpit entertainment solutions for Mercedes Mini Cooper and TomTom’s Navigation Systems are just some of the high-tech and modern examples running on Qt.
The Python GUI Project, or the PyGUI framework as it is more commonly known, is a simple API that enables developers to create user interfaces using native elements for Python applications. Being a fairly lightweight API, the PyGUI framework adds very little additional code between the Python application and the target platform. PyGUI currently supports creating applications for Unix-based systems, Windows machines and Mac OS devices.
To make application development even easier for developers, the documentation for the entire library is in Python, eliminating the need to refer to other GUI libraries. PyGUI is available for Python two and three, and yes, it does come with support for extensions that let you use OpenGL and GTK.
Now, you have a wide array of GUI frameworks to choose from in Python, such as Tkinter, Kivy, PyForms, and more that are designed to supercharge building user interfaces that people will love to use. We hope this list will put an end to your search for the best Python GUI frameworks, or at least, shorten it.