survey says: what's the best GUI toolkit, and how do I use it?

Douglas E. Miles doug at
Mon Feb 9 11:11:47 CST 2004

Sorry this is so late.  I've been having mail issues.

Scott Walters wrote:
> Hi folks,
> I need to pick one windowing toolkit for use on Mac, Wintel, and Unicecesez.
> Doug, a while back did a lovely presentation on wxWindows, most of which 
> I've forgotten, and I lost my handout. Doug, can do you have a link to that
> handout? Or a copy? I'd like to put it on the web, too. 

Can you refresh my memory?  I only remember a program listing.

> But Mac people tell me that the MacOSX wxWindows does *not* work well, and
> it failed to even compile for a friend when I was going to have him do more
> specific testing. 

Not sure about this.  I got it running on OSX several months ago, but 
did run into some issues.

> Perhaps it is still rapidly evolving? Or has it leveled off?
> Tk is the most popular, and probably the most stable, but Doug has been
> frustrated by it and bitten by bugs, and it takes information encoded in
> strings rather than some sort of enum or symbolic constant, making the
> interface error prone and klunky. 

My main beef with Tk (for the particular project I was working on at the 
time) is that the widgets aren't native.  The widgets on windows mostly 
look right, but not quite.  I needed something that looked exactly right 
on Windows/Linux.

> Gtk is really popular, and Glade sounds nice, though I haven't been able to get
> it to compile for me on NetBSD. It is reasonably well ported, though it should
> be a lot more portable. The Gtk bindings for Perl just leave me scratching
> my head - they're documentation free, or else 100% automatically generated,
> completely unhelpful, method signature listings. Personal experience with Gtk at
> all? There are some tutorials care of Google and I'm going to play with it,
> of course. 
> X11::Motif is pretty nifty but out of date and Windows and Mac people
> would have to install a lot of stuff to get it to fly. And of course there
> is raw X11::Protocol =)
> SDL and SDL_perl is another option for simple UI stuf and easy access to GL,
> but again, the Perl bindings seem to be not-quite-there. I built and installed
> and it only comes back with errors on the sample programs. Someone else who
> installed it on Linux said they had to find a binary distribution but it
> did work.

I've run into the same issue here. Several of the sample programs flat 
out don't work.

> So, I'm very open at this point. I'll settle on something eventually, but early
> input might keep me from going off in a bad direction or keep me from missing
> a good one =) Any insights, comments, thoughts, or suggestions are most welcome. 

Bob did a little checking into another toolkit.  The name escapes me 
right now.

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