Tcl Programming/Tk

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

The Tk (Tool Kit) is the most popular Tcl extension for designing graphical user interfaces (GUI) on Macintosh, Unix/Linux, or Windows operating systems.

With little effort, it allows to put together useful

  • windows (forms, as some call them) consisting of
  • widgets, which are managed by
  • geometry managers. Also, you can easily define
  • bindings of mouse or keyboard events to trigger the actions you want.

Example: calculator[edit | edit source]

Here is a very simple, complete Tcl/Tk script that implements a calculator:

package require Tk
pack [entry .e -textvar e -width 50]
bind .e <Return> {
   set e  [regsub { *=.*} $e ""] ;# remove evaluation (Chris)
   catch {expr [string map {/ *1./} $e]} res
   append e " = $res"

It creates an entry widget named .e, into which you can type from the keyboard, with an associated variable e (which will mirror the entry's content), and manages it with pack.

One binding is defined: if with keyboard focus on .e, the <Return> key is hit, then

  • all division operators (/) in the variable e are mapped to "*1./" (this forces floating point division),
  • the resulting string is fed to expr to evaluate it as an arithmetic/logic expression
  • as there may be errors in the user input, the expr call is wrapped into a catch which assigns either the result of expr, or the error message if one occurred, into the variable res
  • the result of the last evaluation is cleared by deleting everything after =
  • finally, an equal sign and the value of the res variable are appended to e, making input and result immediately visible in the entry.

Example: a tiny IRC client[edit | edit source]

As before in the Tcl section, here's a working little script again: a client for IRC (Internet Relay Chat) in 38 lines of code, that features a text and an entry widget:

package require Tk
set ::server
set ::chan   #tcl
set ::me     $tcl_platform(user)
text .t -height 30 -wrap word -font {Arial 9}
.t tag config bold   -font [linsert [.t cget -font] end bold]
.t tag config italic -font [linsert [.t cget -font] end italic]
.t tag config blue   -foreground blue
entry .cmd
pack .cmd -side bottom -fill x
pack .t -fill both -expand 1
bind .cmd <Return> post
proc recv {} {
    gets $::fd line
    if {[regexp {:([^!]*)![^ ].* +PRIVMSG ([^ :]+) +:(.*)} $line -> \
        nick target msg]} {
        set tag ""
        if [regexp {\001ACTION(.+)\001} $msg -> msg] {set tag italic}
        if [in {azbridge ijchain} $nick] {regexp {<([^>]+)>(.+)} $msg -> nick msg}
       .t insert end $nick\t bold $msg\n $tag
    } else {.t insert end $line\n italic}
    .t yview end
proc in {list element} {expr {[lsearch -exact $list $element]>=0}}
proc post {} {
    set msg [.cmd get]
    if [regexp {^/me (.+)} $msg -> action] {set msg "\001ACTION $action\001"}
    foreach line [split $msg \n] {send "PRIVMSG $::chan :$line"}
    .cmd delete 0 end
    set tag ""
    if [regexp {\001ACTION(.+)\001} $msg -> msg] {set tag italic}
    .t insert end $::me\t {bold blue} $msg\n [list blue $tag]
    .t yview end
proc send str {puts $::fd $str; flush $::fd}
set ::fd [socket $::server 6667]
send "NICK $::me"
send "USER $::me 0 * :PicoIRC user"
send "JOIN $::chan"
fileevent $::fd readable recv
bind . <Escape> {exec wish $argv0 &; exit}

The last line is a quick debugging helper: if you modified the script in the editor, save to disk, then hit <Escape> in the app to start it anew.

Widgets[edit | edit source]

Widgets are GUI objects that, when mapped by a geometry manager, correspond to a rectangular area on the screen, with different properties and capabilities.

Widgets are named with path names, somewhat resembling file system path names, except that the separator for widgets is a period ".". For example, is a child of foo which is a child of "." Parent-child relation occurs typically with containers, e.g. toplevel, frame, canvas, text. The name parts (i.e. between the dots) can be almost any string that does not contain "." of course, or starts with a Capital Letter (this is because widget class names with capital initial have a special meaning, they denote class-wide options).

If you have a proc that takes a parent widget w and adds children, it may be important to distinguish whether w is "." or another - because you can't concatenate a child widget name directly to "." - $w.kid will make an invalid name if $w == ".". Here's how to avoid this:

set w2 [expr {$w eq "."? "": $w}]
button $w2.$kid ...

Widgets are created by a command named after their class, which then takes the path name (requiring that parent widgets have to exist by that time) and any number of -key value options that make up the original configuration, e.g.

button .b -text "Hello!" -command {do something}

After creation, communication with the widget goes via a created command that corresponds to its name. For instance, the configuration options can be queried

set text [.b cget -text]

or changed

.b configure -text Goodbye! -background red

Some "methods" like cget, configure are generic to all widget classes, others are specific to one or a few. For instance, both 'text and entry accept the insert method. See the manual pages for all the details.

Widgets appear on screen only after they have been given to a geometry manager (see more below). Example:

text .t -wrap word
pack .t -fill both -expand 1

As widget creation commands return the pathname, these two steps can also be nested like

pack [text .t -wrap word] -fill both -expand 1

The destroy command deletes a widget and all of its child widgets, if present:

destroy .b

The following sub-chapters describe the widgets available in Tk.

button[edit | edit source]

With text and/or image, calls a configurable command when clicked. Example:

button .b -text Hello! -command {puts "hello, world"}

canvas[edit | edit source]

Scrollable graphic surface for line, rectangle, polygon, oval, and text items, as well as bitmaps and photo images and whole embedded windows. See for example "A tiny drawing program" below. Example:

pack [canvas .c -background white]
.c create line 50 50 100 100 150 50 -fill red -width 3
.c create text 100 50 -text Example

Pan a canvas (scroll it inside its window with middle mouse-button held down) by inheriting the text widget bindings:

 bind .c <2> [bind Text <2>]
 bind .c <B2-Motion> [bind Text <B2-Motion>]

entry[edit | edit source]

One-line editable text field, horizontally scrollable (see example above). You can specify a validation function to constrain what is entered. Example:

entry .e -width 20 -textvariable myVar
set myVar "this text appears in the entry"

frame[edit | edit source]

Container for several widgets, often used with pack, or for wrapping "megawidgets"

label[edit | edit source]

One- or multiline field for text display, can be tied to a text variable to update when that variable changes. Linebreaks are specified by \n in the text to be displayed.

labelframe[edit | edit source]

A container similar to a frame, decorated with a thin rectangle around, and a label at top-left position. Example (a tiny radio band selector):

pack [labelframe .lf -text Band]
pack [radiobutton -text AM -variable band -value AM]
pack [radiobutton -text FM -variable band -value FM]
set band AM

listbox[edit | edit source]

Multiline display of a list, scrollable. Single or multiple items can be selected with the mouse.

menu[edit | edit source]

To add a menu to a GUI application, take steps of three kinds:

  • Create the toplevel horizontal menu (needed only once):
. configure -menu [menu .m]
  • For each item in the top menu, create a cascaded submenu, e.g.
.m add cascade -label File -menu [menu .m.mFile]
  • For each entry in a submenu, add it like this:
.m.mFile add command -label Open -command {openFile ...}
.m.mFile add separator

As these commands are a bit verbose, one can wrap them into a little helper:

proc m+ {head name {cmd ""}} {
   if {![winfo exists .m.m$head]} {
        .m add cascade -label $head -menu [menu .m.m$head -tearoff 0]
   if [regexp ^-+$ $name] {
           .m.m$head add separator
   } else {.m.m$head add command -label $name -comm $cmd}

Demo example - now menu items can be created in a much clearer way:

. configure -menu [menu .m]
m+ File Open {.t insert end "opened\n"}
m+ File Save {.t insert end "saved\n"}
m+ File -----
m+ File Exit exit
m+ Edit Cut ...
pack [text .t -wrap word] -fill both -expand 1

radiobutton[edit | edit source]

A button with a selector field which can be on or off, and a label. Clicking the selector field with the mouse changes the value of an associated global variable. Typically, multiple radiobuttons are tied to the same variable. For examples, see labelframe above.

scrollbar[edit | edit source]

Horizontal or vertical scrollbars (vertical being the default, for horizontal specify: -orientation horizontal, or -ori hori if you like it short) can be tied to canvas, entry, listbox or text widgets. The interaction between a scrollbar and its scrolled widget goes with callbacks, in which one notifies the other:

  • scrollbar to widget: xview or yview method
  • widget to scrollbar: set method

Arguments to these methods will be automatically added when the callbacks are invoked.

For example, here's how to connect a text widget with a vertical scrollbar:

pack [scrollbar .y -command ".t yview"] -side right -fill y
pack [text .t -wrap word -yscrollc ".y set"] \
     -side right -fill both -expand 1

With most widgets, scrollbars adjust automatically to the widget's contents. For canvas widgets, you need to update the scrollregion after adding new items. most simply like this:

$canvas configure -scrollregion [$canvas bbox all]

text[edit | edit source]

Scrollable editable multiline text with many formatting options. Can also contain images and embedded widgets. The default wrapping setting is "none", so you might need a horizontal scrollbar to see all of long lines. In many cases it's more user-friendly to configure a text widget as -wrap word - then you only need a vertical scrollbar at most.

Positions in a text widget are specified as line.column, where line starts from 1, and column from 0, so 1.0 is the very first character in a text widget. Example how to delete all contents:

$t delete 1.0 end

For highlighting part of the contents, you can define tags and assign them to subsequences:

$t tag configure ul -underline 1
$t insert end "The next word is " {} underlined ul ", the rest is not."

toplevel[edit | edit source]

Standalone frame window, mostly with decorations (title bar, buttons) from the window manager. When you start Tk, you receive an initially empty toplevel named "." (one dot). If you want more toplevels, create them like this:

toplevel .mySecondWindow

Such toplevels are logically children of ".". To assign a nice title to a toplevel, use

wm title $toplevel "This is the title"

You can also control the geometry (size and position) of a toplevel with

wm geometry $toplevel ${width}x$height+$x+$y

Geometry managers[edit | edit source]

The purpose of geometry managers is to compute the required height, width, and location of widgets, and map them on screen. Besides grid, pack and place, the canvas and text widgets can also manage embedded widgets.

Calls to geometry managers always start with the manager's name, then (mostly) one or more widget names, then any number of -name value options

grid[edit | edit source]

This geometry manager is best suited for tabular window layout consisting of rows and columns. Example, to put three widgets in a horizontal row:

grid .1 .2 .3 -sticky news

The -sticky option indicates what side of its box the widget should stick to, in compass direction; "news" is north-east-west-south", i.e. all four sides.

Here's a minimal solution to display a table (list of lists) in a grid of labels:

package require Tk
proc table {w content args} {
    frame $w -bg black
    set r 0
    foreach row $content {
        set fields {}
        set c 0
        foreach col $row {
            lappend fields [label $w.$r/$c -text $col]
            incr c
        eval grid $fields -sticky news -padx 1 -pady 1
        incr r
    set w
#--- Test:
table .t {
   {Row Head1 Head2}
   {1   foo   42}
   {2   bar   1234}
   {3   grill testing}
pack .t
#--- Changing the contents, given row and column number:
after 2000 .t.3/2 config -text Coucou

pack[edit | edit source]

This used to be the workhorse manager, but in recent years has been less popular than grid. Anyway, it is still good for cases where you have widgets aligned in only one direction (horizontally or vertically). For more complex layouts, one used to insert intermediate frames, but grid makes such jobs just easier. Example:

pack .x -fill both -expand 1 -side left

place[edit | edit source]

This geometry manager is not often used, mostly for special applications, like when you want to highlight the current tab of a tab notebook. It allows pixel-precise placement of widgets, but is less dynamic in reaction to resizing of the toplevel or inner widgets.

Dialogs[edit | edit source]

Dialogs are toplevels that are to tell a message, or answer a question. You don't have to assign a widget path name to them. Just call them as functions and evaluate the result (often "" if the dialog was canceled).

tk_getOpenFile[edit | edit source]

A file selector dialog (limited to existing files). Returns the selected file with path name, or "" if canceled.

tk_getSaveFile[edit | edit source]

A file selector dialog, which also allows specification of a not existing file. Returns the selected file with path name, or "" if canceled.

tk_messageBox[edit | edit source]

A simple dialog that displays a string and can be closed with an "OK" button. Example:

tk_messageBox -message "hello, world!"

tk_chooseColor[edit | edit source]

Displays a dialog for color selection. The returned value is the selected color in one of the representations conformant to Tcl's comprehension of such information; on Microsoft Windows systems this might constitute a hexadecimal string in the format “#RRGGBB”. Upon abortion of the process, the empty string is instead delivered. The dialog may be configured to preselect a certain default color via the “-initialcolor” option, a subordination into a parent widget with “-parent”, and a title caption through “-title”.

 tk_chooseColor -initialcolor #FF0000 -parent . -title "What tincture do you wish?"

Custom dialogs[edit | edit source]

Besides the prefabricated dialogs that come with Tk, it's also not too hard to build custom ones. As a very simple example, here's a "value dialog" that prompts the user for to type in a value:

proc value_dialog {string} {
   set w [toplevel .[clock seconds]]
   wm resizable $w 0 0
   wm title $w "Value request"
   label  $w.l -text $string
   entry  $w.e -textvar $w -bg white
   bind $w.e <Return> {set done 1}
   button $w.ok     -text OK     -command {set done 1}
   button $w.c      -text Clear  -command "set $w {}"
   button $w.cancel -text Cancel -command "set $w {}; set done 1"
   grid $w.l  -    -        -sticky news
   grid $w.e  -    -        -sticky news
   grid $w.ok $w.c $w.cancel
   vwait done
   destroy $w
   set ::$w


set test [value_dialog "Give me a value please:"]
puts test:$test
pack [ label .l -text "Value: '$test' " ]

For a more elaborate example, here is a record editor dialog (multiple fields, each with a label and entry (or text for multi-line input)):

proc editRecord {title headers fields} {
    set oldfocus [focus]
    set w [toplevel .[clock clicks]]
    wm resizable $w 1 0
    wm title $w $title
    set n 0
    foreach h $headers f $fields {
        if ![regexp {(.+)([=+])} $h -> hdr type] {set hdr $h; set type ""}
        label $w.h$n -text $hdr -anchor ne
        switch -- $type {
            = {label $w.e$n -width [string length $f] -text $f -anchor w -bg white}
            + {[text $w.e$n -width 20 -height 6] insert end $f}
            default {[entry $w.e$n -width [string length $f]] insert end $f}
        grid $w.h$n $w.e$n -sticky news
        incr n
    button $w.ok -text OK -width 5 -command [list set $w 1]
    button $w.cancel -text Cancel -command [list set $w 0]
    grid $w.ok $w.cancel -pady 5
    grid columnconfigure $w 1 -weight 1
    vwait ::$w
    if [set ::$w] { #-- collect the current entry contents
        set n 0
        foreach h $headers f $fields {
            regexp {([^=+].+)([=+]?)} $h -> hdr type
            switch -- $type {
                "" {lappend res [$w.e$n get]}
                =  {lappend res [$w.e$n cget -text]}
                +  {lappend res [$w.e$n get 1.0 end]}
            incr n
    } else {set res {}}
    destroy $w
    unset ::$w ;#-- clean up the vwait variable
    focus $oldfocus
    return $res

Quick test:

editRecord Test {foo= bar grill+} {one two three}

Megawidgets made easy[edit | edit source]

The term "megawidgets" is popular for compound widgets that in themselves contain other widgets, even though they will hardly number a million (what the prefix Mega- suggests), more often the child widgets' number will not exceed ten.

To create a megawidget, one needs one proc with the same signature as Tk widget creation commands. This proc will, when called, create another proc named after the widget, and dispatch methods either to specific handlers, or the generic widget command created by Tk.

A little notebook[edit | edit source]

Plain Tk does not contain a "notebook" widget, with labeled tabs on top that raise one of the "pages", but it's easy to make one. This example demonstrates how the tabs are implemented as buttons in a frame, and how the original Tk command named like the frame is "overloaded" to accept the additional add and raise methods:

proc notebook {w args} {
   frame $w
   pack [frame $] -side top -fill x -anchor w
   rename $w _$w
   proc $w {cmd args} { #-- overloaded frame command
       set w [lindex [info level 0] 0]
       switch -- $cmd {
           add     {notebook'add   $w $args}
           raise   {notebook'raise $w $args}
           default {eval [linsert $args 0 _$w $cmd]}
   return $w
proc notebook'add {w title} {
   set btn [button $$title -text $title -command [list $w raise $title]]
   pack $btn -side left -ipadx 5
   set f [frame $w.f$title -relief raised -borderwidth 2]
   pack $f -fill both -expand 1
   $btn invoke
   bind $btn <3> "destroy {$btn}; destroy {$f}" ;# (1)
   return $f
proc notebook'raise {w title} {
   foreach i [winfo children $] {$i config -borderwidth 0}
   $$title config -borderwidth 1
   set frame $w.f$title
   foreach i [winfo children $w] {
       if {![string match *top $i] && $i ne $frame} {pack forget $i}
   pack $frame -fill both -expand 1

Test and demo code:

package require Tk
pack [notebook .n] -fill both -expand 1
set p1 [.n add Text]
pack   [text $p1.t -wrap word] -fill both -expand 1
set p2 [.n add Canvas]
pack   [canvas $p2.c -bg yellow] -fill both -expand 1
set p3 [.n add Options]
pack   [button $p3.1 -text Console -command {console show}]
.n raise Text
wm geometry . 400x300

Binding events[edit | edit source]

Events within Tcl/Tk include actions performed by the user, such as pressing a key or clicking the mouse. To react to mouse and keyboard activity, the bind command is used. As shown in the calculator example:

 pack [entry .e -textvar e -width 50]
 bind .e <Return> {

The bind keyword operates on .e and associates the event related to the <return> event. The following bracket indicates a start of a set of procedures which are executed when the event is performed.

BWidget[edit | edit source]

BWidget is an extension to Tk written in pure Tcl (therefore it can even run on Windows Mobile-driven cell phones). It offers mega-widgets (all class names starting with Uppercase) like

  • ComboBox
  • NoteBook
  • Tree

Screenshot of a NoteBook and a Tree, on a PocketPC under Windows/CE

Tree examples[edit | edit source]

Here is a "hello world" example of a Tree widget (this is a complete script). The root node is constantly called root, for the others you have to make up names:

package require BWidget
pack [Tree .t]
.t insert end root n1  -text hello
.t insert end root n2  -text world
.t insert end n2   n21 -text (fr:monde)
.t insert end n2   n22 -text (de:Welt)

The famous typewriter test sentence represented as a syntax tree:

package require BWidget
pack [Tree .t -height 16] -fill both -expand 1
foreach {from to text} {
   root S S
   S   np1  NP
   S   vp   VP
   np1 det1 Det:The
   np1 ap1  AP
   ap1 adj1 Adj:quick
   ap1 adj2 Adj:brown
   ap1 n1   N:fox
   vp  v    V:jumps
   vp  pp   PP
   pp  prep Prep:over
   pp  np2  NP
   np2 det2 Det:the
   np2 ap2  AP
   ap2 adj3 Adj:lazy
   ap2 n2   N:dog
} {.t insert end $from $to -text $text}
.t opentree S

Tk resources[edit | edit source]

Colors[edit | edit source]

Colors in Tk can be specified in three ways:

  • a symbolic name, like: red green blue yellow magenta cyan
  • a hex string preceded by a #: #RGB, #RRGGBB, #RRRRGGGGBBBB
  • a list of three non-negative integers

The last form is only returned by commands. To specify a color to a command, you'll have to hex-format it. For instance, white could be described as #FFFFFF.

To turn a symbolic name into its RGB components:

winfo rgb . $colorname

Here is the list of defined color names (as from X11's rgb.txt):

set COLORS { snow {ghost white} {white smoke} gainsboro {floral white}
   {old lace} linen {antique white} {papaya whip} {blanched almond}
   bisque {peach puff} {navajo white} moccasin cornsilk ivory {lemon
   chiffon} seashell honeydew {mint cream} azure {alice blue}
   lavender {lavender blush} {misty rose} white black {dark slate
   gray} {dim gray} {slate gray} {light slate gray} gray {light grey}
   {midnight blue} navy {cornflower blue} {dark slate blue} {slate
   blue} {medium slate blue} {light slate blue} {medium blue} {royal
   blue} blue {dodger blue} {deep sky blue} {sky blue} {light sky
   blue} {steel blue} {light steel blue} {light blue} {powder blue}
   {pale turquoise} {dark turquoise} {medium turquoise} turquoise
   cyan {light cyan} {cadet blue} {medium aquamarine} aquamarine
   {dark green} {dark olive green} {dark sea green} {sea green}
   {medium sea green} {light sea green} {pale green} {spring green}
   {lawn green} green chartreuse {medium spring green} {green yellow}
   {lime green} {yellow green} {forest green} {olive drab} {dark
   khaki} khaki {pale goldenrod} {light goldenrod yellow} {light
   yellow} yellow gold {light goldenrod} goldenrod {dark goldenrod}
   {rosy brown} {indian red} {saddle brown} sienna peru burlywood
   beige wheat {sandy brown} tan chocolate firebrick brown {dark
   salmon} salmon {light salmon} orange {dark orange} coral {light
   coral} tomato {orange red} red {hot pink} {deep pink} pink {light
   pink} {pale violet red} maroon {medium violet red} {violet red}
   magenta violet plum orchid {medium orchid} {dark orchid} {dark
   violet} {blue violet} purple {medium purple} thistle snow2 snow3
   snow4 seashell2 seashell3 seashell4 AntiqueWhite1 AntiqueWhite2
   AntiqueWhite3 AntiqueWhite4 bisque2 bisque3 bisque4 PeachPuff2
   PeachPuff3 PeachPuff4 NavajoWhite2 NavajoWhite3 NavajoWhite4
   LemonChiffon2 LemonChiffon3 LemonChiffon4 cornsilk2 cornsilk3
   cornsilk4 ivory2 ivory3 ivory4 honeydew2 honeydew3 honeydew4
   LavenderBlush2 LavenderBlush3 LavenderBlush4 MistyRose2 MistyRose3
   MistyRose4 azure2 azure3 azure4 SlateBlue1 SlateBlue2 SlateBlue3
   SlateBlue4 RoyalBlue1 RoyalBlue2 RoyalBlue3 RoyalBlue4 blue2 blue4
   DodgerBlue2 DodgerBlue3 DodgerBlue4 SteelBlue1 SteelBlue2
   SteelBlue3 SteelBlue4 DeepSkyBlue2 DeepSkyBlue3 DeepSkyBlue4
   SkyBlue1 SkyBlue2 SkyBlue3 SkyBlue4 LightSkyBlue1 LightSkyBlue2
   LightSkyBlue3 LightSkyBlue4 SlateGray1 SlateGray2 SlateGray3
   SlateGray4 LightSteelBlue1 LightSteelBlue2 LightSteelBlue3
   LightSteelBlue4 LightBlue1 LightBlue2 LightBlue3 LightBlue4
   LightCyan2 LightCyan3 LightCyan4 PaleTurquoise1 PaleTurquoise2
   PaleTurquoise3 PaleTurquoise4 CadetBlue1 CadetBlue2 CadetBlue3
   CadetBlue4 turquoise1 turquoise2 turquoise3 turquoise4 cyan2 cyan3
   cyan4 DarkSlateGray1 DarkSlateGray2 DarkSlateGray3 DarkSlateGray4
   aquamarine2 aquamarine4 DarkSeaGreen1 DarkSeaGreen2 DarkSeaGreen3
   DarkSeaGreen4 SeaGreen1 SeaGreen2 SeaGreen3 PaleGreen1 PaleGreen2
   PaleGreen3 PaleGreen4 SpringGreen2 SpringGreen3 SpringGreen4
   green2 green3 green4 chartreuse2 chartreuse3 chartreuse4
   OliveDrab1 OliveDrab2 OliveDrab4 DarkOliveGreen1 DarkOliveGreen2
   DarkOliveGreen3 DarkOliveGreen4 khaki1 khaki2 khaki3 khaki4
   LightGoldenrod1 LightGoldenrod2 LightGoldenrod3 LightGoldenrod4
   LightYellow2 LightYellow3 LightYellow4 yellow2 yellow3 yellow4
   gold2 gold3 gold4 goldenrod1 goldenrod2 goldenrod3 goldenrod4
   DarkGoldenrod1 DarkGoldenrod2 DarkGoldenrod3 DarkGoldenrod4
   RosyBrown1 RosyBrown2 RosyBrown3 RosyBrown4 IndianRed1 IndianRed2
   IndianRed3 IndianRed4 sienna1 sienna2 sienna3 sienna4 burlywood1
   burlywood2 burlywood3 burlywood4 wheat1 wheat2 wheat3 wheat4 tan1
   tan2 tan4 chocolate1 chocolate2 chocolate3 firebrick1 firebrick2
   firebrick3 firebrick4 brown1 brown2 brown3 brown4 salmon1 salmon2
   salmon3 salmon4 LightSalmon2 LightSalmon3 LightSalmon4 orange2
   orange3 orange4 DarkOrange1 DarkOrange2 DarkOrange3 DarkOrange4
   coral1 coral2 coral3 coral4 tomato2 tomato3 tomato4 OrangeRed2
   OrangeRed3 OrangeRed4 red2 red3 red4 DeepPink2 DeepPink3 DeepPink4
   HotPink1 HotPink2 HotPink3 HotPink4 pink1 pink2 pink3 pink4
   LightPink1 LightPink2 LightPink3 LightPink4 PaleVioletRed1
   PaleVioletRed2 PaleVioletRed3 PaleVioletRed4 maroon1 maroon2
   maroon3 maroon4 VioletRed1 VioletRed2 VioletRed3 VioletRed4
   magenta2 magenta3 magenta4 orchid1 orchid2 orchid3 orchid4 plum1
   plum2 plum3 plum4 MediumOrchid1 MediumOrchid2 MediumOrchid3
   MediumOrchid4 DarkOrchid1 DarkOrchid2 DarkOrchid3 DarkOrchid4
   purple1 purple2 purple3 purple4 MediumPurple1 MediumPurple2
   MediumPurple3 MediumPurple4 thistle1 thistle2 thistle3 thistle4
   gray1 gray2 gray3 gray4 gray5 gray6 gray7 gray8 gray9 gray10
   gray11 gray12 gray13 gray14 gray15 gray16 gray17 gray18 gray19
   gray20 gray21 gray22 gray23 gray24 gray25 gray26 gray27 gray28
   gray29 gray30 gray31 gray32 gray33 gray34 gray35 gray36 gray37
   gray38 gray39 gray40 gray42 gray43 gray44 gray45 gray46 gray47
   gray48 gray49 gray50 gray51 gray52 gray53 gray54 gray55 gray56
   gray57 gray58 gray59 gray60 gray61 gray62 gray63 gray64 gray65
   gray66 gray67 gray68 gray69 gray70 gray71 gray72 gray73 gray74
   gray75 gray76 gray77 gray78 gray79 gray80 gray81 gray82 gray83
   gray84 gray85 gray86 gray87 gray88 gray89 gray90 gray91 gray92
   gray93 gray94 gray95 gray97 gray98 gray99

In addition, the following are defined on Windows:

   SystemButtonFace SystemButtonText SystemDisabledText SystemHighlight
   SystemHightlightText SystemMenu SystemMenuText SystemScrollbar
   SystemWindow SystemWindowFrame SystemWindowText

Cursors[edit | edit source]

For every widget, you can specify how the mouse cursor should look when over it. Here's the list of defined cursor names:

set cursors {
   X_cursor arrow based_arrow_down based_arrow_up boat bogosity
   bottom_left_corner bottom_right_corner bottom_side bottom_tee
   box_spiral center_ptr circle clock coffee_mug cross cross_reverse
   crosshair diamond_cross dot dotbox double_arrow draft_large draft_small
   draped_box exchange fleur gobbler gumby hand1 hand2 heart icon
   iron_cross left_ptr left_side left_tee leftbutton ll_angle lr_angle
   man middlebutton mouse pencil pirate plus question_arrow right_ptr
   right_side right_tee rightbutton rtl_logo sailboat sb_down_arrow
   sb_h_double_arrow sb_left_arrow sb_right_arrow sb_up_arrow
   sb_v_double_arrow shuttle sizing spider spraycan star target tcross
   top_left_arrow top_left_corner top_right_corner top_side top_tee 
   trek ul_angle umbrella ur_angle watch xterm

A little tool that presents the cursor names, and shows each cursor shape when mousing over:

set ncols 4
for {set i 0} {$i<$ncols} {incr i} {
   lappend cols col$i
set nmax [expr {int([llength $cursors]*1./$ncols)}]
foreach col $cols {
   set $col [lrange $cursors 0 $nmax]
   set cursors [lrange $cursors [expr $nmax+1] end]
label .top -text "Move the cursor over a name to see how it looks" \
   -relief ridge
grid .top -columnspan $ncols -sticky news -ipady 2
for {set i 0} {$i<[llength $col0]} {incr i} {
   set row {}
   foreach col $cols {
       set name [lindex [set $col] $i]
       if {$name eq ""} break
       lappend row .l$name
       label .l$name -text $name -anchor w
       bind .l$name <Enter> [list %W config -cursor $name]
   eval grid $row -sticky we

Fonts[edit | edit source]

Fonts are provided by the windowing system. Which are available depends on the local installation. Find out which fonts are available with

font families

The typical description of a font is a list of up to three elements:

family size ?style?


set f {{Bitstream Cyberbit} 10 bold}

Family is a name like Courier, Helvetica, Times, ... Best pick one of the names delivered by font families, though there may be some mappings like "Helvetica" -> "Arial"

Size is point size (a typographer's point is 1/72th of an inch) if positive, or pixel size if negative. Normal display fonts often have a size of 9 or 10.

Style can be a list of zero or more of bold, italic, underlined, ...

Images: photos and bitmaps

Tk allows simple yet powerful operations on images. These come in two varieties: bitmaps and photos. Bitmaps are rather limited in functionality, they can be specified in XBM format, and rendered in configurable colors.

Photos have much more possibilities - you can load and save them in different file formats (Tk itself supports PPM and GIF - for others, use the Img extension), copy them with many options, like scaling/subsampling or mirroring, and get or set the color of single pixels.

Setting can also do rectangular regions in one go, as the following example shall demonstrate that creates a photo image of a tricolore flag (three even-spaced vertical bands - like France, Italy, Belgium, Ireland and many more). The default is France. You can specify the width, the height will be 2/3 of that. The procedure returns the image name - just save it in -format GIF if you want:

proc tricolore {w {colors {blue white red}}} {
   set im [image create photo]
   set fromx 0
   set dx [expr $w/3]
   set tox $dx
   set toy [expr $w*2/3]
   foreach color $colors {
       $im put $color -to $fromx 0 $tox $toy
       incr fromx $dx; incr tox $dx
   set im
# Test - display flag on canvas:
pack [canvas .c -width 200 -height 200 -background grey]
.c create image 100 100 -image [tricolore 150]
# Test - save image of flag to file:
[tricolore 300] write tric.gif -format gif

Debugging Tk programs[edit | edit source]

A Tk program under development can be very rapidly debugged by adding such bindings:

bind . <F1> {console show}

This works only on Windows and Macintosh (pre-OS-X) and brings up a console in which you can interact with the Tcl interpreter, inspect or modify global variables, configure widgets, etc.

bind . <Escape> {eval [list exec wish $argv0] $argv &; exit}

This starts a new instance of the current program (assuming you edited a source file and saved it to disk), and then terminates the current instance.

For short debugging output, one can also use the window's title bar. For example, to display the current mouse coordinates when it moves:

bind . <Motion> {wm title . %X/%Y}

Other languages[edit | edit source]

Other programming languages have modules that interface and use Tcl/Tk:

  • In R (programming language), there's a tcltk library, invoked with the command library(tcltk)
  • In Python, there's a tkinter module, invoked with import tkinter or from tkinter import *
  • Common Lisp can communicate with Tcl/Tk via several externally available libraries, including CL-TK and LTK