Altcademy - a Forbes magazine logo Best Coding Bootcamp 2023

What is tkinter in Python

Understanding tkinter: The Gateway to GUI Programming in Python

When you're just starting out with programming, the ability to create a graphical user interface (GUI) can feel like learning a magic trick. Suddenly, the programs you write aren't just text on a screen; they have buttons, sliders, and text boxes that anyone can interact with, even if they don't know anything about code. This is where tkinter, Python's built-in GUI library, shines as a tool for beginners.

What is tkinter?

tkinter is a standard interface to the Tk GUI toolkit shipped with Python. Think of it as a collection of building blocks that you can use to create applications with graphical elements that users can interact with, such as windows, buttons, and text fields. It's designed to be simple enough for beginners to get started with GUI programming quickly.

Why Use tkinter?

The beauty of tkinter lies in its simplicity and its availability. Since it's included with Python, there's no need to install anything extra to get started. It's also cross-platform, meaning the code you write will work on Windows, macOS, and Linux without any modifications.

A Simple tkinter Example

Let's dive into some actual code to see tkinter in action. Here's how you can create a basic window:

import tkinter as tk

root = tk.Tk()
root.title("My First tkinter Window")
root.geometry("300x200")  # Width x Height


This code snippet does a few things:

  1. It imports the tkinter module.
  2. It creates the main window (root) for your application.
  3. It sets the title of the window to "My First tkinter Window".
  4. It defines the size of the window to be 300 pixels wide and 200 pixels tall.
  5. It starts the event loop with root.mainloop(), which is necessary for the window to appear and stay open.

When you run this code, you'll see a small window pop up with the title you've set.

Adding Widgets to Your Window

In tkinter, widgets are the elements that make up your GUI—buttons, text fields, labels, etc. Let's add a button to our window:

import tkinter as tk

def on_button_click():
    print("The button was clicked!")

root = tk.Tk()
root.title("My First tkinter Window")

button = tk.Button(root, text="Click Me!", command=on_button_click)


This code creates a button that prints a message to the console when clicked. The command parameter is used to specify a function to be called when the button is clicked.

Layout Management

You may be wondering what button.pack() is doing. This is part of tkinter's layout management, which determines how widgets are placed in the window. The pack() method is one of the geometry managers available in tkinter that organizes widgets in blocks before placing them in the parent widget.

Intuition and Analogies

Imagine your GUI as a bookshelf. Each widget is like a book, and the pack() method is like arranging these books neatly in rows. You can also use other methods like grid(), which is like organizing your books in a grid of rows and columns, or place(), which is like putting a book exactly where you want it on the shelf by specifying the coordinates.

Handling User Input

A GUI isn't much use if we can't interact with it. Let's add an entry widget for text input and modify our button to display what's typed in:

import tkinter as tk

def on_button_click():
    entered_text = entry.get()
    print(f"You entered: {entered_text}")

root = tk.Tk()
root.title("My First tkinter Window")

entry = tk.Entry(root)

button = tk.Button(root, text="Submit", command=on_button_click)


Now, when the button is clicked, the program will fetch the text from the entry widget and print it out.

Creating a More Complex Layout

Let's create a slightly more complex layout with labels, entry widgets, and buttons:

import tkinter as tk

def on_submit():
    username = username_entry.get()
    password = password_entry.get()
    print(f"Username: {username}, Password: {password}")

root = tk.Tk()
root.title("Login Form")

# Username
username_label = tk.Label(root, text="Username:")
username_entry = tk.Entry(root)

# Password
password_label = tk.Label(root, text="Password:")
password_entry = tk.Entry(root, show="*")

# Submit Button
submit_button = tk.Button(root, text="Submit", command=on_submit)


Here we've added labels to identify the entry fields and a show="*" parameter to the password entry so that the password is not displayed as it's typed.

Conclusion: The First Step in Your GUI Programming Journey

By now, you should have a basic understanding of what tkinter is and how you can use it to create simple GUI applications in Python. It's a wonderful way to start bringing your code to life in a more visual and interactive way. While tkinter may not have all the bells and whistles of more advanced GUI frameworks, it's a perfect starting point for beginners, allowing you to learn the principles of GUI design in a straightforward and forgiving environment.

Remember, like any form of art, programming is not just about following instructions. It's about experimenting, making mistakes, and learning from them. So go ahead and play around with tkinter. Add different widgets, try out different layout managers, and see what you can create. Your journey into the world of GUI programming has just begun, and the possibilities are as limitless as your imagination. Happy coding!