Toplevel Windows

Tkinter GUIs always have a root window, whether you get it by default or create it explicitly by calling the Tk object constructor. This main root window is the one that opens when your program runs, and is where you generally pack your most important widgets. In addition, Tkinter scripts can create any number of independent windows, generated and popped up on demand, by creating Toplevel widget objects.

Each Toplevel object created produces a new window on the display, and automatically adds it to the program's GUI event-loop processing stream (you don't need to call the mainloop method of new windows to activate them). Example 7-3 builds a root and two pop-up windows.

Example 7-3. PP2EGuiTour

import sys
from Tkinter import Toplevel, Button, Label

win1 = Toplevel() # two independent windows
win2 = Toplevel() # but part of same process

Button(win1, text='Spam', command=sys.exit).pack()
Button(win2, text='SPAM', command=sys.exit).pack()

Label(text='Popups').pack() # on default Tk() root window

The toplevel0 script gets a root window by default (that's what the Label is attached to, since it doesn't specify a real parent), but also creates two standalone Toplevel windows that appear and function independently of the root window, as seen in Figure 7-3.

Figure 7-3. Two Toplevel windows and a root window


The two Toplevel windows on the right are full-fledged windows; they can be independently iconified, maximized, and so on. Toplevels are typically used to implement multiple-window displays, and pop-up modal and nonmodal dialogs (more on dialogs in the next section). They stay up until explicitly destroyed, or the application that created them exits.

But it's important to know that although Toplevels are independently active windows, they are not separate processes -- if your program exits, all its windows are erased, including all Toplevel windows it may have created. We'll learn how to work around this rule later by launching independent GUI programs.

7.3.1 Toplevel and Tk Widgets

A Toplevel is roughly like a Frame that is split off into its own window, and has additional methods that allow you to deal with top-level window properties. The Tk widget is roughly like a Toplevel, but is used to represent the application root window. We got one for free in Example 7-3 because the Label had a default parent; in other scripts, we've made the Tk root more explicit by creating it directly like this:

root = Tk()
Label(root, text='Popups').pack() # on explicit Tk() root window

In fact, because Tkinter GUIs are built as a hierarchy, you always get a root window by default, whether it is named explicitly like this or not. You should generally use the root to display top-level information of some sort -- if you don't attach widgets to the root, it shows up as an odd empty window when you run your script. Technically, you can suppress the default root creation logic and make multiple root windows with the Tk widget, as in Example 7-4.

Example 7-4. PP2EGuiTour

import Tkinter
from Tkinter import Tk, Button

win1 = Tk() # two independent root windows
win2 = Tk()

Button(win1, text='Spam', command=win1.destroy).pack()
Button(win2, text='SPAM', command=win2.destroy).pack()

When run, this script displays the two pop-up windows of the screen shot in Figure 7-3 only (there is no third root window). But it's more common to use the Tk root as a main window, and create Toplevel widgets for an application's pop-up windows.

7.3.2 Top-Level Window Protocols

Both Tk and Toplevel widgets export extra methods and features tailored for their top-level role, as illustrated by Example 7-5.

Example 7-5. PP2EGuiTour

# popup three new window, with style
# destroy() kills one window, quit() kills all windows and app;
# top-level windows have title, icon (on Unix), iconify/deiconify
# and protocol for wm events; there always is an app root window, 
# whether by default or created as an explicit Tk() object; all
# top-level windows are containers, but never packed or gridded;
# Toplevel is like frame, but is a new window, and can have menu;

from Tkinter import *
root = Tk() # explicit root

trees = [('The Larch!', 'light blue'),
 ('The Pine!', 'light green'),
 ('The Giant Redwood!', 'red')]

for (tree, color) in trees:
 win = Toplevel(root) # new window
 win.title('Sing...') # set border
 win.protocol('WM_DELETE_WINDOW', lambda:0) # ignore close

 msg = Button(win, text=tree, command=win.destroy) # kills one win
 msg.pack(expand=YES, fill=BOTH)
 msg.config(padx=10, pady=10, bd=10, relief=RAISED)
 msg.config(bg='black', fg=color, font=('times', 30, 'bold italic'))

root.title('Lumberjack demo')
Label(root, text='Main window', width=30).pack()
Button(root, text='Quit All', command=root.quit).pack() # kills all app

This program adds widgets to the Tk root window, immediately pops up three Toplevel windows with attached buttons, and uses special top-level protocols. When run, it generates the scene captured in living black-and-white by Figure 7-4 (the buttons' text shows up blue, green, and red on a color display).

Figure 7-4. Three Toplevel windows with configurations


There are a few operational details worth noticing here, all of which are more obvious if you run this script on your machine:

Intercepting closes: protocol

Because the window manager close event has been intercepted by this script using the top-level widget protocol method, pressing the X in the top-right corner doesn't do anything in the three Toplevel pop-ups. The name string WM_DELETE_WINDOW identifies the close operation. You can use this interface to disallow closes apart from the widgets your script creates -- the function created by this script's lambda:0 does nothing but return zero.

Killing one window: destroy

Pressing the big black buttons in any one of the three pop-ups only kills that pop-up, because the pop-up runs the widget destroy method. The other windows live on, much as you would expect of a pop-up dialog window.

Killing all windows: quit

To kill all the windows at once and end the GUI application (really, its active mainloop call), the root window's button runs the quit method instead. Pressing the root window's button ends the application.

Window titles: title

As introduced in Chapter 6, top-level window widgets (Tk and Toplevel) have a title method that lets you change the text displayed on the top border. Here, the window title text is set to the string "Sing..." to override the default "tk".

Geometry management

Top-level windows are containers for other widgets, much like a standalone Frame. Unlike frames, though, top-level window widgets are never themselves packed (or gridded, or placed). To embed widgets, this script passes its windows as parent arguments to label and button constructors.

In addition, top-level window widgets support other kinds of protocols that we will utilize later on this tour:


The iconify and withdraw top-level widget methods allow scripts to hide and erase a window on the fly; deiconify redraws a hidden or erased window. The state method queries a window's state (it returns "iconic", "withdrawn", or "normal"), and lift and lower raise and lower a window with respect to others. See the alarm scripts near the end of Chapter 8 for usage.


Each top-level window can have its own window menus too; both the Tk and Toplevel widgets have a menu option used to associate a horizontal menu bar of pull-down option lists. This menu bar looks as it should on each platform on which your scripts are run. We'll explore menus early in Chapter 8.

Notice that this script passes its Toplevel constructor calls an explicit parent widget -- the Tk root window (that is, Toplevel(root)). Toplevels can be associated with a parent like other widgets, even though they are not visually embedded in their parents. I coded the script this way to avoid what seems like an odd feature; if coded instead like this:

win = Toplevel() # new window

If no Tk root yet exists, this call actually generates a default Tk root window to serve as the Toplevel's parent, just like any other widget call without a parent argument. The problem is that this makes the position of the following line crucial:

root = Tk() # explicit root

If this line shows up above the Toplevel calls, it creates the single root window as expected. But if you move this line below the Toplevel calls, Tkinter creates a default Tk root window that is different than the one created by the script's explicit Tk call. You wind up with two Tk roots just as in Example 7-5. Move the Tk call below the Toplevel calls and rerun it to see what I mean -- you'll get a fourth window that is completely empty! As a rule of thumb, to avoid such oddities, make your Tk root windows early and explicit.

All of the top-level protocol interfaces are only available on top-level window widgets, but you can often access them by going through other widgets' master attributes -- links to the widget parents. For example, to set the title of a window in which a frame is contained, say something like this:

theframe.master.title('Spam demo') # master is the container window

Naturally, you should only do so if you're sure that the frame will only be used in one kind of window. General-purpose attachable components coded as classes, for instance, should leave window property settings to their client applications.

Top-level widgets have additional tools, some of which we may not meet in this book. For instance, under Unix window managers, you can also call icon-related methods to change the bitmap used for top-level windows (iconbitmask), and set the name used on the window's icon (iconname). Because such icon options are only useful when scripts run on Unix, see other Tk and Tkinter resources for more details on this topic. For now, the next scheduled stop on this tour explores one of the more common uses of top-level windows.

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

Programming Python
Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner, 3rd Edition
ISBN: 1435455002
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2000
Pages: 245 © 2008-2020.
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