How to learn wxPython

We have had a lot of questions on the newsgroup asking how to go about learning wxPython. This page gives some pointers on how to do just that.

Learn Python

If you are new to Python, and especially if you are new to programming in general, it makes the most sense to learn Python first, without any GUI stuff. The wait can be frustrating, but it is worth it. Python is a very powerful language capable of doing many things both with and without GUIs.

At a minimum, you should understand topics such as functions, modules, and classes. Without those, learning wxPython will be a frustrating experience. The Python website has an excellent guide for beginners that takes you step-by-step through the process of learning the language. http://www.python.org/about/gettingstarted/

Choose a good editor

Features such as auto-completion, code highlighting, and an interactive window make for faster programming with less errors.

See http://wiki.python.org/moin/PythonEditors for a list of editors.

Install wxPython

If you don't already have wxPython installed, see the How to install wxPython page.

Read the wxPython tutorials

Wiki tutorials: A great place to start is the Getting Started page. Then you should look at the Obstacle Course and the Fully Functional Demo.

External tutorial: Another great resource is the Zetcode wxPython tutorial. It covers using a wide range of subjects, including: getting started, menus/toolbars, sizers, events, the drawing API, widgets, creating custom widgets and demonstrates several 'skeleton' applications.

Video tutorials: ShowMeDo.com hosts a set of wxPython tutorial videos - excellent for beginners. There is also a series of wxPython videos on YouTube.

Read the wxPython Style Guide

It will serve you well to use a nice, modern style for your wxPython code. Due to API changes over the years, and just plain experience, wxPython code style has changed quite a bit over the years, and gotten much more Pythonic.

Unfortunately, a lot of the examples you'll find have not been updated to reflect this style. As you will benefit from using good, modern, style, make sure to study wxPython Style Guide right when you get started, to establish good habits.

Read the demo files

wxPython comes with a comprehensive set of demos and examples. Go to the download page and scroll down to the wxPython-demo-x.x.x files. The demo demonstrates nearly all the features of wxPython. You can see how different features work and study the source code.

NOTE: If the demos don't work, make sure you have the latest wxPython version installed. Sometimes demos use features not found in older versions. To check your wxPython version, run:

   1 import wx
   2 print wx.version()

A popular way to work on wxPython is to find a demo that is close to what you want, copy it, and then alter it to fit your needs. Another source of examples is the wxPython Cookbook.

Use the wxWidgets documentation

A very important resource is the wxWidgets documentation.

It is written mainly in C++, but there are notes for wxPython and most of the time you can mentally convert from the C++ syntax to the wxPython syntax. You don't need to know C++ to benefit from this. A lot of wxPython programmers don't know any C++ at all, and they still find the wxWidgets documentation very useful.

If you need help reading the wxWidgets docs, the C++ Guide for Pythoneers might be of help. Or you can just ask for help on the mailing list.

Use the wxPython reference (experimental)

You can try the automatically generated API reference. This is an experimental feature. It is not as thorough or mature as the wxWidgets documentation, but it is written in wxPython syntax instead of C++ syntax.

Study other people's code

Charles Simonyi, the legendary Microsoft programmer, grew up in Hungary and had few books available to him from which to learn computer science. He was able to get the source code for a compiler and studied the printouts as musicians would study musical scores.

There are quite a few gems in the sample code that is distributed with wxPython but are not in the Demo program, e.g., FrogEdit and its underlying wx.lib.editor module. I had assumed that an editor would be a wx.TextCtrl on steroids. I was surprised to see that the text was drawn to the screen using a DC (device control) and learned some good techniques. I am also "reading" Transana and Task Coach, two sophisticated applications written in Python and wxPython, to learn how large applications are structured. There is a huge difference between the small examples on this wiki, and actual real-world code, so the process of analyzing large applications is integral to learning wxPython.

Ask questions!

The wxPython-users mailing list is famous for its helpful and friendly members. You can subscribe to it here: http://wxpython.org/maillist.php.

How to Learn wxPython (last edited 2013-05-02 15:34:47 by c-98-246-90-205)