[triangle-zpug] Desktop apps in Python?

David Handy david at handysoftware.com
Sat Aug 14 08:04:35 CEST 2004

On Fri, 13 Aug 2004, Jim Allman wrote:

> Hi all, a general question..
> What's the current state of the art in building standalone desktop apps 
> with Python? I'm trying to figure out how realistic it is to attempt 
> cross-platform, GUI applications without dependencies on existing stuff 
> like .NET frameworks, Python interpreters, etc.
> The more I read, the shakier this sounds. Jeez, all I want to do is to 
> distribute standalone apps for Windows, Mac, and *nix, without the user 
> having to do more than a simple install. Is this unrealistic?

One word: Yes. It's harder than it looks.

My experience with wxWindows on Linux is that I had to do a lot of work to
get the dependencies so it would compile. I don't see how a novice user
could pull it off. RPM's are very dependent on what Linux distribution you
use. That's why, for the software for my beginning programming book, I
gave up entirely on the idea of distributing any non-pure-python packages.  
For graphics I stuck with Tkinter, because the core Python folks have done
the hard work of making sure it compiles and/or installs everywhere.

One ray of hope - the pygame web site has a Solar Fox game by pygame head
developer Pete Shinners that features a very friendly Linux installer.  
It gets you local copies of all the dependent shared object files, python
interpreter, etc.  You might look at that for an example - its in the
Projects section of the web site. I didn't take very much time to
reverse-engineer his install package to see how he did it, but it looked
like he was leveraging something from the SDL folks. It might be possible
for you to take what Pete did with pygame and apply it to wxWindows.

However, you said "*nix", not Linux, so that must include 64-bit 
architectures, *BSD, etc. That makes a "simple install" even less 

I don't think you'll find anything better than Python for what you want to
do. Java is probably your second-best bet, but you'd better read the long 
license first... going to the sun web site, I don't see a JRE for the 
Mac, just Windows, Solaris, and Linux...

If you come up with a system for developing state-of-the art
graphical/multimedia applications that install easily without the end user
having to download extra stuff, worry about dependencies, compile code,
etc. on Windows, Mac, and every *nix, please let us know, cause you'd be
the first. Everyone else makes some compromises, or makes the user do some
extra work on non-Windows platforms.

If I'm wrong and someone else on this list knows it, please speak up. I'm 
interested too.

Good luck -
David H.

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