Python’s have broad use cases be it data science, web development, or machine learning. One such use case we know is in building Graphical User Interfaces or GUI as we know, and two of the most prominent libraries in Python for building GUIs are PyQt and Tkinter. Both libraries are well suited for development but people get different holds of different libraries. So, to address that we are going to discuss the difference between the working of these 2 libraries and what aspects make them better from the other, so it’s literally a PyQt vs Tkinter article.
Table of Contents
Introduction to GUI
Graphical User Interfaces are digital interfaces where users can interact with different graphical components like buttons, icons, images, etc. GUIs can be developed for applications with the help of certain programming languages such as C, Java, Python, and much more. In Python, you can build GUIs with libraries such as PyQt and Tkinter, note that there are other libraries such as Kivy, etc, but the former ones are the most prominent in this field. Some say Tkinter has a more advanced grasp over the GUI area while some prefer PyQt but you can decide which one is better under which requirements.
PyQt is a set of Python bindings for the Qt application framework. The Qt is a widely used C++ framework that contributes to the robust and feature-rich nature of PyQt and by leveraging the power of this framework, PyQt provides developers with a plethora of tools to build sophisticated desktop applications with ease.
PyQt supports cross-platform applications and can be used to develop applications for macOS, Windows, or Unix. While its learning curve might be steeper compared to simpler GUI libraries, the payoff in terms of flexibility and capability is well worth the investment, especially for projects with ambitious UI requirements.
How to Install PyQt?
You can install PyQt with the pip package installer, just type the below-given command in your terminal or command prompt if you’re on Windows:
pip install PyQt5
You’ll have PyQt5 installed on your system right away. Now let’s try to write a sample app in PyQt.
Creating a Simple PyQt Window
Create a new file in your working directory named
pyqt_app.py and write the below-given code in the file.
from PyQt5.QtWidgets import QApplication, QWidget, QPushButton, QVBoxLayout, QLabel
# Initialize the UI components
# Create a QPushButton
button = QPushButton('Click me!', self)
# Connect the button's click event to the custom function
# Create a QVBoxLayout to arrange the button
layout = QVBoxLayout()
# Set the layout for the main window
# Set the window properties
self.setGeometry(300, 300, 300, 200)
self.setWindowTitle('Sample PyQt App')
txt = QLabel('Welcome Here', parent = self)
# Show the window
# This function will be called when the button is clicked
app = QApplication(sys.argv)
window = SimpleApp()
# Start the application's event loop
If you click the button, you will see the output –
Button clicked! in the terminal.
Advantages of PyQt
- Rich widget and styling: PyQt has an extensive collection of customizable widgets, which allows developers to create visually interactive and appealing user interfaces. Moreover, the integration of Qt Designer facilitates a seamless drag-and-drop interface design which indeed streamlines the development process.
- Cross-Platform Compatibility: One of PyQt’s standout features is its cross-platform compatibility. The applications you develop with PyQt can run on various operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS, ensuring a broad reach for your software.
- Signal and Slot Mechanism: The Signal and Slot mechanism of Qt allows the developers to build dynamic and responsive interfaces, with this signal (events triggered by user actions or system events) and slots (functions that respond to these events) mechanism, different parts of your applications can communicate seamlessly and carry out the desired actions on signal.
- Graphics View Framework: PyQt incorporates the Graphics View framework which is a powerful tool for creating interactive and scalable graphics. This framework is particularly beneficial for applications dealing with visualizations, simulations, or games.
- QtWebEngine for Web Content Integration: PyQt also includes the QtWebEngine module. With the QtWebEnginer module, we can integrate web content into the application, with this we can build hybrid applications that require web technologies.
- Wide variety of documentation and resources: Since PyQt is one of the most commonly used libraries for GUI building, you can easily find the resources and documentation over the internet.
Disadvantages of PyQt
- Learning Curve: As advanced PyQt is, the learning path is steeper also. With the advanced set of features comes the cost of learning, if you are transitioning from simpler GUI libraries you may find it a little bit intimidating at first to understand the PyQt framework.
- Paying for a Commercial License: If you’re building an application that is not Open Source, then you need to pay for getting the commercial license according to your requirements.
Tkinter is yet another popular standard GUI toolkit in Python, which is known for its simplicity. It is based on the Tk GUI toolkit, which originated in the Tcl scripting language. Tkinter name is made by concatenating the words Tk and Interface. Tkinter is open-source and is often the first choice of beginners, you can use Tkinter right away after installing Python as it comes installed with Python.
The widgets in Tkinter are not as advanced as PyQt but there are widgets that can be suitable for intermediate applications.
Advantages of Tkinter
- Learning is easy: This is because Tkinter is well known for its simplicity, being easy to learn makes it more user-friendly, and good for beginners who are building GUIs for projects or personal uses. The API of Tkinter is clean and simple, and on top of it, the syntax is pretty much easy to grasp and work with.
- Standard Library Inclusion: Tkinter comes bundled with Python which makes it readily available without the need for additional installations. This ensures that Tkinter is a go-to choice for developers seeking a hassle-free setup.
- Community Support: As the default GUI toolkit for Python, Tkinter enjoys widespread community support. A huge number of tutorials, forums, and documentation are available for you to take assistance from.
Disadvantages of Tkinter
- Limited Widget Variety: Though there are plenty of standard widgets in Tkinter, still it lacks in providing advanced widget capabilities to the developers.
- Less Polished Look: Tkinter interfaces lack a modern appearance and sleek design, in contrast to PyQt.
Creating a Tkinter Application
To create a sample Tkinter application you do not need to install the tkinter library as it comes already installed with python. You can start by creating a new file named
tkinter_app.py , and writing the code as shown below:
import tkinter as tk
# Create the main window
root = tk.Tk()
root.title("Tkinter Greeting App")
# Define a StringVar to hold the greeting message
greeting = tk.StringVar()
# Create and pack a label with the initial greeting
greeting_label = tk.Label(root, textvariable=greeting, font=("Helvetica", 16))
greeting.set("Welcome to Tkinter!")
# Create and pack a button to trigger the greeting
greet_button = tk.Button(root, text="Greet", command=greet)
# Run the Tkinter event loop
What this code does, is that it displays a window with a button and when the button is clicked, a label will be updated with a greeting message.
If you click the Greet Button, the above text will change to “Hello, Tkinter”, give it a try.
PyQt Vs Tkinter
|PyQt is a set of Python bindings for the Qt toolkit, which is written in C++.
|Tkinter is Python’s standard GUI toolkit and is based on the Tk GUI toolkit originally developed for Tcl.
|Offers a rich set of customizable widgets, including advanced options like tables, trees, and more.
|It provides a basic set of standard widgets suitable for most applications but lacks some of the advanced widgets available in PyQt.
|Has a steeper learning curve, especially for developers new to Qt or complex GUI frameworks.
|Known for its simplicity, making it more accessible for beginners.
|Look and Feel
|Allows for highly polished and modern-looking interfaces, leveraging the styling capabilities of the Qt framework.
|Defaults to a more basic and standard appearance. Customizing the look might require additional effort compared to PyQt.
|Web Content Integration
|Includes the QtWebEngine module for seamless integration of web content into applications.
|Lacks a built-in module for easy web content integration.
To sum up, we have discussed what PyQt and Tkinter are and their pros and cons related to development, advanced features, etc. We have also compared them side by side for a better understanding of both these Python libraries. It depends on your individual needs and goals when building a GUI, if you are looking to build an Interface with more advanced features and rich widgets PyQt should be your first choice and if you’re looking for a library to support your basic needs in building applications that doesn’t require much of heavy integrations, then Tkinter can be your buddy.