List of widget toolkits

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This article provides a list of widget toolkits, organized by their relationships with various operating systems.

Low-level widget toolkits[edit]

Integrated in the operating system[edit]

As a separate layer on top of the operating system[edit]

  • The X Window System contains primitive building blocks, called Xt or "Intrinsics", but they are used only by Motif and Xaw. Most other toolkits, such as GTK+ or Qt, bypass them and use Xlib.
  • The Amiga OS Intuition was formerly present in the Amiga Kickstart ROM and integrated itself with a medium-high level widget library which invoked the Workbench Amiga native GUI. Since Amiga OS 2.0, Intuition.library became disk based and object oriented. Also Workbench.library and Icon.library became disk based, and could be replaced with similar third-party solutions.
  • Since 2005, Microsoft has taken the graphics system out of Windows' kernel.[2]

High-level widget toolkits[edit]

Widget toolkit comparison table
Toolkit name Windows Mac OS X Unix-like Programming language License
Qt Yes Yes Yes C++ LGPL
MFC Yes No No C++ Proprietary
OWL (superseded by VCL) Yes No No C++ (Borland C++) Proprietary
VCL (supersedes OWL) Yes No No Object Pascal (Delphi) Proprietary
WTL Yes No No C++ Microsoft Public License
LCL Yes Yes Yes Object Pascal (Free Pascal) LGPL
LessTif No No Yes C LGPL
GTK+ Yes Yes Yes C LGPL
FLTK Yes Yes Yes C++ LGPL
Fox toolkit Yes No Yes C++ LGPL
wxWidgets Yes Yes Yes C++ WxWindows license
SmartWin++ Yes No No C++ BSD
TnFOX Yes Yes Yes C++ LGPL
Ultimate++ Yes No Yes C++ BSD
CEGUI Yes Yes Yes C++ MIT
IUP Yes Yes Yes C MIT
Shoes (GUI toolkit) cross-platform Ruby MIT
AWT cross-platform Java
Swing cross-platform Java
Pivot (WTK) cross-platform Java Apache License
GNUstep Yes Yes Yes Objective-C LGPL
Juce Yes Yes Yes C++ GPL, commercial
Cocoa No Yes No Objective-C Proprietary

OS dependent[edit]

On Amiga[edit]

  • BOOPSI (Basic Object Oriented Programming System for Intuition) was introduced with OS 2.0 and enhanced Intuition with a system of classes in which every class represents a single widget or describes an interface event. This led to an evolution in which third-party developers each realised their own personal systems of classes.
  • MUI: object-oriented GUI toolkit and the official toolkit for MorphOS.
  • Zune (GUI toolkit) is an open source clone of MUI and the official toolkit for AROS.

On Macintosh[edit]

On Microsoft Windows[edit]

On Unix, under the X Window System[edit]

Note that the X Window System was originally primarily for Unix-like operating systems, but it now runs on Microsoft Windows as well using, for example, Cygwin, so some or all of these toolkits can also be used under Windows.

Cross-platform[edit]

Based on C (including bindings to other languages)[edit]

  • Elementary, open source (LGPL), a part of the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries, a fast, stable, and scalable library that can be used to create both rich and fast applications that can be used on anything from every day desktop computers to small PDA's and set-top boxes.
  • GTK+, open source (LGPL), primarily for the X Window System, ported to and emulated under other platforms; used in the GNOME, Rox, LXDE and Xfce desktop environments. The Windows port has support for native widgets.
  • IUP, open source (MIT), a minimalist GUI toolkit in ANSI C for Windows, UNIX and Linux.
  • Tk, a widget set accessed from Tcl and other high-level script languages (interfaced in Python as Tkinter).
  • XForms, the Forms Library for X
  • XVT, Extensible Virtual Toolkit

Based on C++ (including bindings to other languages)[edit]

Based on OpenGL[edit]

  • GLUI (LGPL) is a GLUT-based C++ user interface library which provides controls such as buttons, checkboxes, radio buttons, and spinners to OpenGL applications.
  • Clutter (LGPL) (in C) is an open source software library for creating fast, visually rich and animated graphical user interfaces.

Based on Flash[edit]

  • Adobe Flash allows creating widgets running in most web browsers and in several mobile phones.
  • Adobe Flex provides high-level widgets for building web user interfaces. Flash widgets can be used in Flex.
  • Flash and Flex widgets will run without a web browser in the Adobe AIR runtime environment.
  • Independent software vendors propose to embed the flash application into an executable: MDM Zinc, mProjector and more. Those solutions are cross-platform (depending on the vendors solution).

Based on XML[edit]

Based on JavaScript[edit]

Main article: JavaScript library

General

RIAs

Framework

Resource-based

Based on SVG[edit]

  • Raphaël is a JavaScript toolkit for SVG interfaces and animations

Based on Java[edit]

  • The Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT) is Sun Microsystems' original widget toolkit for Java applications. It typically uses another toolkit on each platform on which it runs.
  • Swing is a richer widget toolkit supported since J2SE 1.2 as a replacement for AWT widgets. Swing is a lightweight toolkit, meaning it does not rely on native widgets.
  • Apache Pivot is an open-source platform for building rich web applications in Java or any JVM-compatible language, and relies on the WTK widget toolkit.
  • JavaFX
  • The Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) is a native widget toolkit for Java that was developed as part of the Eclipse project. SWT uses a standard toolkit for the running platform (such as the Windows API, Mac OS X Cocoa, or GTK+) underneath.
  • Qt Jambi, the official Java binding to Qt from Trolltech. The commercial support and development has stopped[4]

Based on Object Pascal[edit]

  • IP Pascal uses a graphics library built on top of standard language constructs. Also unusual for being a procedural toolkit that is cross-platform (no callbacks or other tricks), and is completely upward compatible with standard serial input and output paradigms. Completely standard programs with serial output can be run and extended with graphical constructs.
  • Lazarus LCL (for Pascal, Object Pascal and Delphi programming language via Free Pascal compiler), a class library wrapping GTK+ 1.2, Gtk+ 2.x and the Windows API (Carbon, Windows CE and Qt4 support are all in development).
  • fpGUI is created with the Free Pascal compiler. It doesn't rely on any large 3rdParty libraries and currently runs on Linux, Windows and Windows CE. A Carbon (Mac OS X) port is under way.
  • CLX (Component Library for Cross-platform), used with Borland's Delphi, C++ Builder, and Kylix, for producing cross-platform applications. It is based on Qt, wrapped in such a way that its programming interface is similar to that of the VCL toolkit.

Based on Ada[edit]

  • RAPID is the Rapid Ada Portable Interface Design tool. Current implementations utilize the TASH binding to Tcl/Tk, the GNAT to JVM compiler, the Microsoft .NET Framework, or GtkAda.
  • GWindows is a GUI framework that mostly supports Windows development, but also has incomplete implementations for Mac OS X and Linux.
  • QtAda, the official Ada binding to Qt.

Based on Objective-C[edit]

Based on Eiffel[edit]

  • EiffelVision is a cross-platform, object-oriented framework for graphical user interface development.

Based on Ruby[edit]

Not yet categorised[edit]

Comparison of widget toolkits[edit]

Toolkit Initial release Latest release Main language Bindings Tools License Pros Cons Back-end
Agar [5] 2005 2011 C BSD portable, unique across platforms, fast, low-level no property grid
Xaw / Athena 1983 C
AWT 1995 Java portable
CEGUI December 2004 0.8.4 (July 7, 2014; 4 months ago (2014-07-07)) [±] [6] C++ Python,[7] Lua (using tolua++)[8] CEED[9] MIT License Free license, fast, cross-platform, portable, free GUI editing tool
Clutter 2006 C Perl, Python, C#, C++, Vala, Ruby LGPL GTK+ and WebKit embedding
Elementary 2007 (EFL: 2001) 2011 C JavaScript, Python, Vala, C++ editje, edje LGPL Portable, stable, fast, finger-friendly
FLTK 1998 C++ Python (pyFLTK), Perl (FLTK.pm), Ruby (Ruby/FLTK), Tcl (Tcl Fltk), Guile (guile-fltk), Eiffel (IFLTK) FLUID (Fast Light UI Designer) LGPL (with an exception that allows static linking) fast, small enough to static link limited widget selection
FOX 1997 C++ Ruby (FXRuby), Python (FXPy), Eiffel (EiffelFox) consistent across platforms non-native look and feel
GLUI C++
GNUstep 1994 2010 Objective-C Java, Ruby, Scheme Gorm (computing) GPL for the apps, LGPL for the libs X11
GTK+ 1997 3.14.1 (September 30, 2014; 47 days ago (2014-09-30)) [±] C C++ (gtkmm), Perl (Gtk2-perl), Ruby (ruby-gtk2), Python (PyGTK), Haskell (Gtk2Hs), Java (java-gnome) (not available for Microsoft Windows), C# (Gtk#), PHP (PHP-GTK), Ada (GTKAda), D (gtkD), FreeBasic (GladeToBac), Go (go-gtk), OCaml (lablgtk), JavaScript (Gjs, Seed), Fortran (gtk-fortran), Lua (lua-lgi), R (RGtk2) and others via GTK-server Glade LGPL Portable, stable API, free license Partly native only.[10][11]
IUP 1992 2011[12] C Lua (IupLua)[13] LEDC: a compiler for LED MIT Portable, lightweight, use the native API, native look&feel, free licence Non‑Unicode (only plain ASCII) [14]
KWWidgets C++ Tcl/Tk, Python VisualStudio, gcc BSD portable
Motif / Lesstif 1980s C BX Pro
MWT Multi-Platform Widget Toolkit 2000-11-15 2009-10-20 C/C++ Ruby, Perl, Python, Java, Objective Caml WideStudio Application Builder, Eclipse/NAB MIT License very portable, many language bindings (incl. embeded systems)
Nana 2007 2011-12-05 C++ VisualStudio, Dev-C++, Code::Blocks, GCC portable, lightweight, C++ style
NTK 2012 2012 C++ LGPL Free license, portable, stable, fast
Qt 1991 5.3.2 (September 16, 2014; 61 days ago (2014-09-16)) [±][15] C++ Ruby (QtRuby), Python (PyQt, PySide, PythonQt), Ada (QtAda), c# ( Qyoto), Java (Qt Jambi), Pascal ( FreePascal Qt4 ), Perl (Perl Qt4), PHP(PHP-Qt), Haskell (Qt Haskell), Lua (lqt, QtLua), Dao ( DaoQt), Tcl ( qtcl ), Common Lisp (CommonQt), D (QtD), Harbour (hbqt) Qt Designer, Qt Creator GPL, LGPL.[16] Portable, rich widget set, GUI builder, free license, stable API Partially native only.[17][18][19]
Shoes (GUI toolkit) 2007 2010 Ruby MIT license/Open source Simplicity, ease of use
SWT Java D (DWT) Eclipse portable
Swing 1996 Java Eclipse, NetBeans Portable (Java), advanced widgets, GUI builders
Tk Tcl Ruby (RubyTk), Python (Tkinter), Perl (Perl/Tk), Ada (TASH), CommonLisp (LTk), Erlang (etk), ... | BSD very portable, many language bindings
Ultimate++ 2004 C++ TheIDE BSD portable, NTL, free license
VCF C++ BSD free license
Windows Forms CLI languages CLI languages Expression, Visual Studio portability issues, no MVC
WPF / XAML / Silverlight 2007 CLI languages CLI languages Expression, Visual Studio Portability issues
MFC / WinAPI 1992 C++ Visual Studio not portable (but Wine implements it for X Window)
ATL / WTL 2004 C++ Visual Studio not portable
wxWidgets 1992 2013-11-11 C++ C++ (native), Ruby (wxRuby), Python (wxPython), Perl (wxPerl), Java (wxJava, jwx!), Lua (wxLua), Tcl(wxTCL), JavaScript (GLUEscript), Smalltalk (wxSqueak), Erlang (wxErlang), Haskell (wxHaskell), C (wxC), D (wxD), .NET Framework (wxNet), Common Lisp (wxCL), Basic (wxBasic), BlitzMax (wxMax), Euphoria (wxEuphoria), Ada (wxAda), Pike (wxPike) VisualWx, Boa Constructor, PythonCard, Spe, XRCed, wxGlade, wxFormBuilder, DialogBlocks ($), wxDesigner ($), Philasmicos Entwickler Studio wxWindows License Portable, rich widget set, free licence, semantic similarities to MFC make migration easy.
XUL XML/JavaScript portable
YAAF C++
SmartWin++ C++
Juce 2004 C++ Jucer GPL, commercial Cross-platform, with additional audio plug-in wrapping tools (VST, RTAS, AAX etc.)
XVT 1989 2010 C and C++ Design for C and architect for C++ Proprietary Cross-platform, rich widget set, C and C++ GUI builders, very stable
NUI C++ Yapuka GPL and proprietary
CLX C++
InterViews C++
VCL Delphi
tekUI C / Lua
Toolkit Initial release Latest release Main language Bindings Tools License Pros Cons

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Microsoft: MS Windows NT Kernel-mode User
  2. ^ Techworld: Microsoft to move graphics outside OS kernel
  3. ^ This version provides the core API of the .NET Framework 2.0, but its implementation of this API is still incomplete.
  4. ^ Qt Software to discontinue Qt Jambi after 4.5 release
  5. ^ http://libagar.org/
  6. ^ http://cegui.org.uk/download/cegui-084
  7. ^ http://cegui.org.uk/wiki/PyCEGUI
  8. ^ http://cegui.org.uk/wiki/Extending_your_Lua_Interface
  9. ^ http://cegui.org.uk/wiki/CEED
  10. ^ Migrating to client-side windows: “GDK looks for the GDK_NATIVE_WINDOWS environment variable and makes all windows native if it is set. It also tries to be more compatible with the way prior versions worked in some other ways.”
  11. ^ Coding Horror: Non-Native UI Sucks: “[…] has a cross-platform UI based on GTK, which produces predictably bland, least-common-denominator results:”
  12. ^ http://sourceforge.net/projects/iup/files/3.5/
  13. ^ http://www.tecgraf.puc-rio.br/iup/
  14. ^ Comparing IUP with Other Interface Toolkits: “[…] it does not have support for Unicode characters.”
  15. ^ Tuukka Turunen (2014-09-16). "Qt 5.3.2 Released with Qt Creator 3.2.1". Retrieved 2014-09-16. 
  16. ^ Nyström, Sebastian (14 January 2009). "Nokia to license Qt under LGPL". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  17. ^ Nokia Announces Qt 5 Plans - Slashdot: “Qt doesn't use native widgets. They never have. What they have recently changed is using the native drawing APIs. That is not the same thing.”
  18. ^ WxWidgets Compared To Other Toolkits: “Qt doesn't have true native ports like wxWidgets does. Qt does not use system provided widgets, but emulates it with themes. What we mean by this is that even though Qt draws them quite realistically, Qt draws its own widgets on each platform.”
  19. ^ "Library". Digia. "Qt uses the native graphics APIs of each platform it supports, taking full advantage of system resources and ensuring that applications have native look and feel." 

External links[edit]