23 May 2023

Building GUI Applications with Python and Tkinter

Graphical User Interface (GUI) applications are an essential part of modern software development. They provide a user-friendly interface for users to interact with software and enhance the overall user experience. Python, a versatile and powerful programming language, offers various frameworks for developing GUI applications. One such popular framework is Tkinter, a standard Python interface for creating graphical applications. In this blog post, we will explore the basics of building GUI applications using Python and Tkinter, step by step.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Tkinter?
  2. Installing Tkinter
  3. Creating a Simple Tkinter Application
  4. Understanding Widgets
  5. Layout Management
    1. Pack
    2. Grid
    3. Place
  6. Handling Events
  7. Building a Complete Application
  8. Conclusion

What is Tkinter?

Tkinter is a Python library that provides a set of tools and classes for building graphical user interfaces. It is based on the Tk GUI toolkit, which originated as part of the Tcl scripting language. Tkinter is included with Python installations on most platforms, making it easily accessible and widely used. With Tkinter, developers can create windows, dialogs, buttons, menus, and other interactive elements for their applications.

Installing Tkinter

Since Tkinter is included with Python installations by default, you don't need to install it separately. Ensure that you have Python installed on your system, and you'll have Tkinter available for use.

Creating a Simple Tkinter Application

To get started with Tkinter, let's create a simple "Hello World" application. Open your favorite text editor or integrated development environment (IDE) and create a new Python script. Import the Tkinter module by including the following line at the beginning of your script:

import tkinter as tk

Next, create an instance of the Tk class, which represents the main window of the application:

root = tk.Tk()

The root object represents the main window, and all other widgets will be placed inside it. Now, let's add a label widget to display the "Hello, World!" text:

label = tk.Label(root, text="Hello, World!")

The Label widget creates a static text label, and the pack() method is used to place the widget in the window. Finally, we need to start the event loop, which handles user interactions with the application:


Save the script with a .py extension and execute it. You should see a window with the "Hello, World!" text displayed.

Understanding Widgets

Widgets are the building blocks of Tkinter applications. Tkinter provides a wide range of pre-defined widgets that you can use to create various elements such as buttons, text boxes, checkboxes, radio buttons, etc. Here are a few commonly used Tkinter widgets:

You can create these widgets using their respective classes, such as Label, Button, Entry, etc.

Layout Management

Tkinter provides different layout managers to organize and position widgets within a window. The three primary layout managers are:

  1. Pack: The pack() method organizes widgets in a horizontal or vertical stack. By default, widgets are stacked vertically. You can use the side parameter to specify whether widgets should be placed on the top, bottom, left, or right.
  2. Grid: The grid() method arranges widgets in a table-like structure, with rows and columns. You can use the row and column parameters to specify the position of each widget within the grid.
  3. Place: The place() method allows you to precisely position widgets using x and y coordinates. This layout manager provides manual control over widget placement.

Handling Events

In GUI applications, user interactions trigger events. Tkinter provides a mechanism to handle these events using event bindings. You can associate functions, known as event handlers or callbacks, with specific events. For example, you can bind a function to the "click" event of a button, and the function will be executed when the button is clicked.

To handle events, you need to define functions that perform the desired actions. For example, to handle a button click event, define a function and associate it with the button:

def button_clicked():
    print("Button clicked!")

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

In this example, the button_clicked function is defined to print a message when the button is clicked. The command parameter of the Button widget is set to the button_clicked function. When the button is clicked, the function will be executed.

Building a Complete Application

Now that you understand the basics of Tkinter, let's build a complete GUI application. In this example, we'll create a simple calculator that can perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

First, import the required modules:

import tkinter as tk
from tkinter import messagebox

Next, create an instance of the Tk class:

root = tk.Tk()
root.title("Simple Calculator")

Create input fields for the numbers and a dropdown menu to select the operation:

num1_label = tk.Label(root, text="Number 1:")

num1_entry = tk.Entry(root)

num2_label = tk.Label(root, text="Number 2:")

num2_entry = tk.Entry(root)

operation_label = tk.Label(root, text="Operation:")

operation_var = tk.StringVar(root)
operation_var.set("+")  # Set default operation to addition

operation_dropdown = tk.OptionMenu(root, operation_var, "+", "-", "*", "/")

Create a function to perform the calculation when the "Calculate" button is clicked:

def calculate():
        num1 = float(num1_entry.get())
        num2 = float(num2_entry.get())
        operation = operation_var.get()

        if operation == "+":
            result = num1 + num2
        elif operation == "-":
            result = num1 - num2
        elif operation == "*":
            result = num1 * num2
        elif operation == "/":
            result = num1 / num2

        messagebox.showinfo("Result", f"The result is: {result}")

    except ValueError:
        messagebox.showerror("Error", "Please enter valid numbers.")

calculate_button = tk.Button(root, text="Calculate", command=calculate)

Finally, start the event loop:


Save the script and run it. You will see a window with input fields, a dropdown menu, and a "Calculate" button. Enter the numbers, select the operation, and click the button to see the result displayed in a message box.


In this blog post, we have explored the basics of building GUI applications with Python and Tkinter. We covered the installation process, creating a simple Tkinter application, understanding widgets and layout management, handling events, and building a complete calculator application. Tkinter provides a user-friendly and powerful framework for developing GUI applications in Python. With its extensive documentation and wide community support, you can create sophisticated and interactive applications to meet your specific requirements. So go ahead and start building your own GUI applications with Python and Tkinter!