[triangle-zpug] Desktop apps in Python?

Jim Allman jim at ibang.com
Sun Aug 15 19:30:18 CEST 2004

David and Tom,

Thanks for great feedback! Plenty to chew on here, and you've both 
helped me to understand the distinctions between all the tools in my 

I'm shooting for the "shrink-wrap" experience, where a fairly naive 
user can download a single installer and quickly have joy.

On Aug 14, 2004, at 2:04 AM, David Handy wrote:
> 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.

I'm currently pondering an odd combination of tools--sounds crazy, but 
it just might work for my purposes:

- Build the UI in Macromedia Flash (standalone app in Mac and Win, or 
in a browser under Linux)
- Add a separate Python engine for file I/O and network operations, 
probably based on Twisted
- User launches the Python process, which in turn launches the local 
client (app or browser)
- These two partners communicate via XML-RPC on an unused port
- For distribution, freeze the Python engine with its own interpreter
- Bundle the resulting files appropriately for each system, e.g. a 
packaged app folder on OS X

This reduces the Python dependencies to just Twisted and any other 
modules, plus the included Python interpreter. It seems like this would 
avoid the usual configuration hassles of wxPython, wxWindows, etc etc.

Flash (esp the recent Player v7) provides a nice and consistent client 
environment, including a broad widget set--IMO, it's a better Java than 
Java in this sense. Python/Twisted would pick up the slack where Flash 
is limited (filesystem access, encryption, SSL, XML generation, data 
storage and indexing...)

The result would not feel quite like a "native" desktop app. It would 
have limited support for clipboard operations, drag-and-drop, etc. But 
I think it could install and launch easily, and would be a platform for 
*tons* of functionality and a very rich user interface.

Thoughts? (I realize that most people aren't going to be comfortable 
coding apps in Flash/Actionscript, but I find that it's a mature tool 
and getting better all the time.)


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Jim Allman
Interrobang Digital Media
(919) 649-5760

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