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Developing Gnome Application with Python

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Developing Gnome Application with Python

Needed tools


To be able to run the program described in this article you will need at least:

  • Python 1.52 , an older version will make your Gnome-Python development instable. If you use rpm you can find rpm packages for your system
  • Gnome Python 1.0.53;
  • October Gnome;
  • Glade 0.5.7
  • LibGlade 0.12
  • an adapted editor, for example GNU Emacs. In this case you will want to install the Python mode
     for emacs. At this location there is also explanation how to install it.
  • Also you may need the original .glade file and the Python source code.

To install Pyhton-Gnome and LibGlade from the sources:

make install

will do the trick.You must also check that the Python environment variable PYTHONPATH is set to the path where the Python-Gnome modules were installed. This can be /usr/local/lib/python1.5/site-packages or /usr/lib/python1.5/site-packages/. In this place you find all the necessary bindings for Gnome and LibGlade, for example you will find the module there. To set the PYTHONPATH just add in your .bash_profile:


Don't forget, you may have to start your Python code from a terminal to get this variable set.


Glade, LibGlade & Python interaction

Glade is an interface builder developed by Damon Chaplin. It allows graphical and interactive construction of Gnome/Gtk graphical user interfaces. From Glade, the generated interface can be saved in a xml file or directly exported to C code to be included in a C source tree. Glade also allows to define the name of the handlers - functions - to be attached to the various event of the interface. For example the function (name) to be called when a specific menu item is pressed.

LibGlade is a library written by James Henstridge to generate on the fly an interface represented by a Glade xml file. The application just needs to be aware of the xml file - generally ending by the .glade extension - and then LibGlade can generate the interface from it. James Henstridge has also written the LibGlade Pyhton binding - among others - found in the Gnome-Python package. LibGlade also allows to auto-connect - almost in Python - the handlers defined in the .glade file to functions defined in the Python code.

The following graph shows this general mechanism. To understand how the Pyhton binding is implemented, it's sometimes necessary to look at the Gtk, Gnome, LibGlade Python modules located in PYTHONPATH in order to compare them to the C Gtk/Gnome developer documentation.



A first example named couleur

As a first approach to Gnome-Python programming, I propose a simple color game where kids have to recognize shapes of the same color. This example is very graphic oriented and presents nice features of Gnome such as the Gnome Canvas and the Gnome Application Window. The rules of this game are quite simple: the game board is filled with 16 shapes - circles, stars and squares - of different colors. All this 16 shapes are divided in 8 pairs of identical color. To finish the game, just select successively these 8 pairs. You might want to look first at the code at the end of this document to get an overall idea and then resume from here.


Building an interface with Glade

The widgets

After starting Glade, you will get two windows. One is a widget tool box, called Palette. Form this one you can select the categories of widget among GTK+ Basic, GTK+ Additional and Gnome. If you don't have the Gnome widget, Glade may have been compiled without Gnome support. Check the configure of the source Glade package, configure --help explains the configuration options.

The other window lists in its main area the created widgets.

With Glade, we first create a Gnome Application Window. This widget is a window with menu bar & tool bar. Both are packed on the handled dock. On the bottom of the Gnome Application Window there is also already packed a status bar. After creating a Gnome Application Window, open the Widget Tree dialog (you will find it in the view menu in Glade). Now you can explore what is exactly packed in this widget.

Next add a canvas in the main area of the Gnome application widget. From the properties dialog, set its maximal coordinates to 400 and its maximal height and width to 400.


And now create a Gnome About Dialog. You can adjust its content from the properties dialog in the Widget sheet.

All these widgets are in the Gnome category of the Palette.

Now remove the unused icon buttons and menu items. In the tool bar remove the Open and Save icon buttons. Next edit the menu bar (right click over it and choose edit menu) and remove all menus and menu items except for File->New, File->Exit, Setting->Preferences and Help->About.

Setting the widget and handler names

Apply the following names to these widgets so we can use them with theses names in Python:

Gnome Application Window:
Gnome About Dialog:

The handler names are function names to be called when an event occurs on a particular widget. This means, we will define functions in Python using these names - almost as you will see later. For example when the user clicks on the new icon button we want to call a function to reset the game. To set this up from Glade, you first need to select the widget, then adjust from the Signals sheet in the properties dialog.

In our example, the signal is clicked and the handler is the function name. The following arrays present all the used signal and handler:

In the about dialog:

Widget name Signal Handler
about clicked gtk_widget_destroy
about close gtk_widget_destroy
about destroy gtk_widget_destroy

The gtk_widget_destroy handler is predefined in GTK. It just destroys the widget.

In the colorApp window. First, Glade automatically chooses the signals/handlers for items menu. You can check their names. I append them at the end of this array. You will note that both new menu item and the new icon button share the same handler, normal they have similar purposes:

Widget name Signal Handler
button1 (new icon button
on the toolbar
clicked on_new_activate
new activate on_new_activate
colorApp destroy on_exit1_activate
exit1 activate on_exit1_activate
about1 activate on_about_activate

The final touch

Call the Project Options from the Options button in the Glade toolbar. In the General sheet, adjust the project entries as below:

The file representing the widgets is Adjust the path to your own home directory.

Now save the file from the File menu. Do not build source code, we don't use that feature.
We have now finish with Glade and we can now start with Python.

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Keywords: Developing Gnome Application with Python, GNOME, GNOME, GNOME tutorial, GNOME tutorial pdf, history of GNOME, Custamizing Style Sheet, learn GNOME

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