Binding Events

We met the bind widget method in the last chapter, when we used it to catch button presses in the tutorial. Because bind is commonly used in conjunction with other widgets (e.g., to catch return key presses for input boxes), we're going to make a stop early on the tour here as well. Example 7-15 illustrates more bind event protocols.

Example 7-15.

from Tkinter import *

def showPosEvent(event):
 print 'Widget=%s X=%s Y=%s' % (event.widget, event.x, event.y)

def showAllEvent(event):
 print event
 for attr in dir(event): 
 print attr, '=>', getattr(event, attr) 

def onKeyPress(event):
 print 'Got key press:', event.char

def onArrowKey(event): 
 print 'Got up arrow key press'

def onReturnKey(event): 
 print 'Got return key press'

def onLeftClick(event):
 print 'Got left mouse button click:', 

def onRightClick(event):
 print 'Got right mouse button click:', 

def onMiddleClick(event):
 print 'Got middle mouse button click:', 

def onLeftDrag(event):
 print 'Got left mouse button drag:',

def onDoubleLeftClick(event):
 print 'Got double left mouse click',

tkroot = Tk()
labelfont = ('courier', 20, 'bold') # family, size, style
widget = Label(tkroot, text='Hello bind world')
widget.config(bg='red', font=labelfont) # red background, large font
widget.config(height=5, width=20) # initial size: lines,chars
widget.pack(expand=YES, fill=BOTH)

widget.bind('', onLeftClick) # mouse button clicks
widget.bind('', onRightClick)
widget.bind('', onMiddleClick) # middle=both on some mice
widget.bind('', onDoubleLeftClick) # click left twice
widget.bind('', onLeftDrag) # click left and move

widget.bind('', onKeyPress) # all keyboard presses
widget.bind('', onArrowKey) # arrow button pressed
widget.bind('', onReturnKey) # return/enter key pressed
widget.focus() # or bind keypress to tkroot
tkroot.title('Click Me')

Most of this file consists of callback handler functions triggered when bound events occur. As we learned in Chapter 6, these callbacks all receive an event object argument that gives details about the event that fired. Technically, this argument is an instance of the Tkinter Event class, and its details are attributes; most of the callbacks simply trace events by displaying relevant event attributes.

When run, this script makes the window shown in Figure 7-20; it's mostly intended just as a surface for clicking and pressing event triggers.

Figure 7-20. A bind window for the clicking


The black-and-white medium of the book you're holding won't really do justice to this script -- when run live, it uses the configuration options shown earlier to make the window show up as black on red, with a large Courier font. You'll have to take my word for it (or run this on your own).

But the main point of this example is to demonstrate other kinds of event binding protocols at work. We saw a script that intercepted left and double-left mouseclicks with the widget bind method earlier; the script here demonstrates other kinds of events that are commonly caught with bind:

To catch the press of a single key on the keyboard, register a handler for the event identifier; this is a low-level way to input data in GUI programs than the Entry widget covered in the next section. The key pressed is returned in ASCII form in the event object passed to the callback handler (event.char). Other attributes in the event structure identify the key pressed in lower-level detail. Key presses can be intercepted by the top-level root window widget or a widget that has been assigned keyboard focus with the focus method used by this script.

This script also catches mouse motion while a button is held down: the registered event handler is called every time the mouse is moved while the left button is pressed, and receives the current X/Y coordinates of the mouse pointer in its event argument (event.x, event.y). Such information can be used to implement object moves, drag-and-drop, pixel-level painting, and so on (e.g., see the PyDraw examples in Chapter 9).


This script also catches right and middle mouse button clicks (known as buttons 3 and 2). To make the middle button 2 click work on a two-button mouse, try clicking both buttons at the same time; if that doesn't work, check your mouse setting in your properties interface (Control Panel on Windows).


To catch more specific kinds of key presses, this script registers for the Return/Enter and up-arrow key press events; these events would otherwise be routed to the general handler, and require event analysis.

Here is what shows up in the stdout output stream, after a left click, right click, left click and drag, a few key presses, a Return and up-arrow press, and a final double-left click to exit. When you press the left mouse button and drag it around on the display, you'll get lots of drag event messages -- one is printed for every move during the drag (and one Python callback is run for each):

Got left mouse button click: Widget=.7871632 X=209 Y=79
Got right mouse button click: Widget=.7871632 X=209 Y=79
Got left mouse button click: Widget=.7871632 X=83 Y=63
Got left mouse button drag: Widget=.7871632 X=83 Y=65
Got left mouse button drag: Widget=.7871632 X=84 Y=66
Got left mouse button drag: Widget=.7871632 X=85 Y=66
Got left mouse button drag: Widget=.7871632 X=85 Y=67
Got left mouse button drag: Widget=.7871632 X=85 Y=68
Got key press: s
Got key press: p
Got key press: a
Got key press: m
Got key press: 1
Got key press: -
Got key press: 2
Got key press: .
Got return key press
Got up arrow key press
Got left mouse button click: Widget=.7871632 X=85 Y=68
Got double left mouse click Widget=.7871632 X=85 Y=68

For mouse-related events, callbacks print the X and Y coordinates of the mouse pointer, in the event object passed in. Coordinates are usually measured in pixels from the upper-left corner (0,0), but are relative to the widget being clicked. Here's what is printed for a left, middle, and double-left click. Notice that the middle-click callback dumps the entire argument -- all of the Event object's attributes. Different event types set different event attributes; most key presses put something in char, for instance:

Got left mouse button click: Widget=.7871632 X=163 Y=18
Got middle mouse button click: Widget=.7871632 X=152 Y=110

char => ??
height => 0
keycode => 2
keysym => ??
keysym_num => 2
num => 2
send_event => 0
serial => 14
state => 0
time => 5726238
type => 4
widget => .7871632
width => 0
x => 152
x_root => 156
y => 110
y_root => 133
Got left mouse button click: Widget=.7871632 X=152 Y=110
Got double left mouse click Widget=.7871632 X=152 Y=110

Besides the ones illustrated in this example, there are additional kinds of bindable events that a Tkinter script can register to catch. For example:

  • fires when a button is released ( is run when the button first goes down).
  • is triggered when a mouse pointer is moved.
  • and handlers intercept mouse entry and exit in a window's display area (useful for automatically highlighting a widget).
  • is invoked when the window is resized, repositioned, and so on (e.g., the event object's width and height give the new window size).
  • is invoked when the window widget is destroyed (and differs from the protocol mechanism for window manager close button presses).
  • and <FocusOut> are run as the widget gains and loses focus.
  • and <Unmap> are run when a window is opened and iconified.
  • , , and catch other special key presses.
  • , , and catch other arrow key presses.

This is not a complete list, and event names can be written with a somewhat sophisticated syntax all their own. For example:

  • Modifiers can be added to event identifiers to make them even more specific; for instance, means moving the mouse with the left button pressed, and refers to pressing the "a" key only.
  • Synonyms can be used for some common event names; for instance, , , and <1> all mean a left mouse button press, and and both mean the "a" key. All forms are case-sensitive : use , not .
  • Virtual event identifiers can be defined within double bracket pairs (e.g., <>) to refer to a selection of one or more event sequences.

In the interest of space, though, we'll defer to other Tk and Tkinter reference sources for an exhaustive list of details on this front. Alternatively, changing some of the settings in the example script and rerunning can help clarify some event behavior too; this is Python, after all.

Introducing Python

Part I: System Interfaces

System Tools

Parallel System Tools

Larger System Examples I

Larger System Examples II

Part II: GUI Programming

Graphical User Interfaces

A Tkinter Tour, Part 1

A Tkinter Tour, Part 2

Larger GUI Examples

Part III: Internet Scripting

Network Scripting

Client-Side Scripting

Server-Side Scripting

Larger Web Site Examples I

Larger Web Site Examples II

Advanced Internet Topics

Part IV: Assorted Topics

Databases and Persistence

Data Structures

Text and Language

Part V: Integration

Extending Python

Embedding Python

VI: The End

Conclusion Python and the Development Cycle

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Programming Python
Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner, 3rd Edition
ISBN: 1435455002
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2000
Pages: 245
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