GTK

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GTK
GTK logo.svg
The gtk3-widget-factory is a collection of examples demonstrating many of the GUI widgets in GTK version 3
The gtk3-widget-factory is a collection of examples demonstrating many of the GUI widgets in GTK version 3
Original author(s)Spencer Kimball, Peter Mattis
Developer(s)The GNOME Project, eXperimental Computing Facility (XCF)
Initial releaseApril 14, 1998; 21 years ago (1998-04-14)
Stable release
3.24.13 / November 27, 2019; 5 days ago (2019-11-27)[1]
Preview release
3.96.0 / May 7, 2019; 6 months ago (2019-05-07)[2]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written inC, CSS[3]
Operating systemLinux, Unix-like, macOS, Windows
TypeWidget toolkit
LicenseLGPLv2.1+
Websitegtk.org

GTK (formerly GTK+[4], GIMP Toolkit) is a free and open-source cross-platform widget toolkit for creating graphical user interfaces (GUIs).[5] It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License, allowing both free and proprietary software to use it. Along with Qt, it is one of the most popular toolkits for the Wayland and X11 windowing systems.[6]

Software architecture[edit]

Simplified software architecture of GTK. Pango, GDK, ATK, GIO, Cairo and GLib
GDK contains back-ends to X11, Wayland, Broadway (HTTP), Quartz, and GDI and relies on Cairo for the rendering. Its new SceneGraph is work-in-progress.

The GTK library contains a set of graphical control elements (widgets), version 3.22.16 contains 186 active and 36 deprecated widgets.[7] GTK is an object-oriented widget toolkit written in the programming language C; it uses GObject, that is the GLib object system, for the object orientation. While GTK is mainly for windowing systems based on X11 and Wayland, it works on other platforms, including Microsoft Windows (interfaced with the Windows API), and macOS (interfaced with Quartz). There is also an HTML5 back-end named Broadway[8][9].

GTK can be configured to change the look of the widgets drawn; this is done using different display engines. Several display engines exist which try to emulate the look of the native widgets on the platform in use.

Starting with version 2.8, released in 2005, GTK began the transition to using Cairo to render most of its graphical control elements widgets.[10] Since GTK version 3.0, all the rendering is done using Cairo.[citation needed]

On 2018-Jan-26 at DevConf.cz Matthias Clasen gave an overview of the current state of GTK 4 development, including a high-level explanation of how rendering and input worked in GTK 3, what changes are being made in GTK 4 (>3.90), and why.[11] In February it was announced that GTK 4 will drop the “+” from the project's name.[4]

GIMP Drawing Kit (GDK)[edit]

GDK acts as a wrapper around the low-level functions provided by the underlying windowing and graphics systems.

GDK is found in the /gdk directory.

GTK Scene Graph Kit (GSK)[edit]

GSK is the rendering and scene graph API for GTK. GSK lies between the graphical control elements (widgets) and the rendering. GSK was finally merged into GTK+ version 3.90 released March 2017.

GSK is found in the /gsk directory.

GtkInspector[edit]

GtkInspector was introduced with version 3.14.[12][13] GtkInspector can only be invoked after installing the development package libgtk-3-dev/gtk+-devel.

GUI designers[edit]

There are several GUI designers for GTK. The following projects are active as of July 2011:

  • Glade, supports GtkBuilder, which is a GTK built-in GUI description format.
  • Gazpacho, GUI builder for the GTK toolkit written in Python[14]
  • Crow Designer, relies on its own GuiXml format and GuiLoader library.[15]
  • Stetic, part of MonoDevelop, oriented toward Gtk#.

GtkBuilder[edit]

GtkBuilder allows user interfaces to be designed without writing code. The interface is described in an Extensible Markup Language (XML) file, which is then loaded at runtime and the objects created automatically. The Glade Interface Designer allows creation of the user interface in a what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) manner. The description of the user interface is independent from the programming language being used.

Language bindings[edit]

A library written in one programming language may be used in another language if bindings are written; GTK has a range of bindings for various languages.[16]

Gtk#[edit]

Gtk#
Gtk Sharp Logo.png
Developer(s)Xamarin
Initial releaseMarch 12, 2004; 15 years ago (2004-03-12)
Stable release
2.12.41[17] / September 22, 2016; 3 years ago (2016-09-22)
Preview release
2.99.3[17] / June 6, 2014; 5 years ago (2014-06-06)
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written inC#, XML, Perl, C
Operating systemWindows, macOS, Linux
TypeWidget toolkit
LicenseGNU Lesser General Public License
Websitemono-project.com/GtkSharp

Gtk# is a set of .NET Framework bindings for the GTK graphical user interface (GUI) toolkit and assorted GNOME libraries. The library facilitates building graphical GNOME applications using Mono or any other compliant Common Language Runtime (CLR). Gtk# is an event-driven system like any other modern windowing library where every widget allows associating handler methods, which get called when certain events occur.

Applications built using Gtk# will run on many platforms including Linux, Windows and macOS. The Mono packages for Windows include GTK, Gtk# and a native theme to make applications look like native Windows applications. Starting with Mono 1.9, running Gtk# applications on macOS no longer requires running an X11 server.[18]

Glade Interface Designer can be used with the Glade# bindings to easily design GUI applications. A GUI designer named Stetic is integrated with the MonoDevelop integrated development environment (IDE).

In addition to support the standard GTK/GNOME stack of development tools, the gtk-dotnet.dll assembly provides a bridge to consume functionality available on the .NET stack. At this point this includes the functionality to use System.Drawing to draw on a widget.

GtkSourceView[edit]

For syntax highlighting there is GtkSourceView, "source code editing widget".

GtkSourceView is maintained separately from GTK as a library: gtksourceview. There are plans to rename to gsv.

GtkSpell[edit]

GtkSpell is a distinct library separate to GTK. GtkSpell depends on GTK and Enchant. Enchant is a wrapper for ispell, hunspell, etc, the actual spell checker engine/software. GtkSpell uses GTK's GtkTextView widget, to highlight misspelled words and offer replacement.

Development[edit]

GTK is mainly developed by The GNOME Project, which also develops the GNOME Development Platform and the GNOME Desktop Environment.[19]

GTK development is loosely managed. Discussion chiefly occurs on several public mailing lists.[20] GNOME developers and users gather at an annual GNOME Users And Developers European Conference GUADEC meeting to discuss GNOME's current state and future direction.[21] GNOME incorporates standards and programs from freedesktop.org to better interoperate with other desktops.

GTK is mainly written in C.[22] Many language bindings are available.

On September 1, 2016 a post on the GTK development blog denoted, among other things, the future numbering scheme of GTK.[23] GTK version 3.22 from autumn 2016 shall be the last 3.x release. After that all resources will move to the GTK 4 development series with the version names 3.90, 3.92, etc. Even as the 4.x series enters development, notable applications still use GTK 2.x and have not been ported to 3.22. Regarding the future of legacy software using GTK+, there is no collective project to port GTK 2.x software to 3.22.

Build automation[edit]

In former times GTK (and GNOME, GLib, etc.) utilized the GNU Build System (named Autotools) as the build automation system of choice.

Since 14 Aug 2017, the master branch of GTK builds with Meson, and the Autotools build system files have been dropped.[24]

Criticism[edit]

The most common criticism of GTK is the lack of backward-compatibility in major updates, most notably in the application programming interface (API)[25] and theming.[26]

The compatibility breaks between minor releases during the GTK 3.x development cycle was explained by Benjamin Otte as due to strong pressures to innovate, such as providing the features modern users expect and supporting the increasingly influential Wayland display server protocol. With the release of GTK 4, the pressure from the need to innovate will have been released and the balance between stability and innovation will tip toward stability.[27] Similarly, recent changes to theming are specifically intended to improve and stabilise that part of the API, meaning some investment now should be rewarded later.

  • Dirk Hohndel, codeveloper of Subsurface and member of Intel's Open-Source Technology Center, criticized the GTK developers for being abrasive and ignoring most community requests.[28]
  • Hong Jen Yee, developer of LXDE (the GTK version of which will be dropped and all efforts focused on the Qt port[29]), expressed disdain for version 3 of the GTK toolkit's radical API changes and increased memory usage, and ported PCMan File Manager (PCManFM) to Qt. PCManFM is being developed with a GTK and with a Qt backend at the same time.[30]
  • The Audacious music player moved to Qt in version 3.6.[31] The reasons stated by the developers for this include a transition to client-side window decorations, which they claim cause the application to look "GNOME-y and out of place."[32]
  • Wireshark has switched to Qt due to not having a good experience with GTK's cross-platform support.[33]

Use[edit]

The GTK support for Wayland, co-requisites applications to be adapted to Wayland also
Screenshot of GIMP 2.8 - GTK is responsible for managing the interface components of the program, including the menus, buttons, and input fields.

Applications[edit]

Some notable applications that use or once used GTK as a widget toolkit include:

Desktop environments[edit]

Several desktop environments utilize GTK as the widget toolkit.

Current[edit]

  • GNOME, based on GTK, meaning that programs native to GNOME use GTK
  • Budgie, built from scratch for the SolusOS successor, Solus Operating System
  • Cinnamon, a fork of GNOME 3 and uses GTK version 3
  • MATE, a fork of GNOME 2, which was initially built using GTK 2, but as of version 1.18, has been updated to use only GTK 3.
  • Xfce, currently based on GTK 3, after migration from GTK 2. xfce4-14
  • Pantheon uses GTK 3 exclusively, being developed by elementary OS
  • Sugar, a desktop environment for youth primary education, which uses GTK, especially PyGTK
  • KDE, though based on Qt, has integration with GTK written programs and themes since version 4.2
  • Phosh, a mobile UI designed for PureOS

Inactive[edit]

Miscellaneous[edit]

GTK programs can be run on desktop environments based on X11 and Wayland, or window managers even those not made with GTK, provided the needed libraries are installed; this includes macOS if X11.app is installed. GTK can be also run on Microsoft Windows, where it is used by some popular cross-platform applications like Pidgin and GIMP. wxWidgets, a cross-platform GUI tool-kit, uses GTK on Linux.[34] Other ports include DirectFB (used by the Debian installer, for example) and ncurses.[35]

Window managers[edit]

The following window managers use GTK:

Example[edit]

Documentation is available here:

The following code presents a graphical GTK hello-world program in the C programming language. This program has a window with the title "Hello, world!" and a label with similar text.

// helloworld.c

#include <gtk/gtk.h>

int main (int argc, char *argv[])
{
    GtkWidget *window;
    GtkWidget *label;

    gtk_init(&argc, &argv);

    /* Create the main, top level window */
    window = gtk_window_new(GTK_WINDOW_TOPLEVEL);

    /* Give it the title */
    gtk_window_set_title(GTK_WINDOW(window), "Hello, world!");

    /* Center the window */
    gtk_window_set_position(GTK_WINDOW(window), GTK_WIN_POS_CENTER);

    /* Set the window's default size */
    gtk_window_set_default_size(GTK_WINDOW(window), 200, 100);

    /*
    ** Map the destroy signal of the window to gtk_main_quit;
    ** When the window is about to be destroyed, we get a notification and
    ** stop the main GTK loop by returning 0
    */
    g_signal_connect(window, "destroy", G_CALLBACK(gtk_main_quit), NULL);

    /*
    ** Assign the variable "label" to a new GTK label,
    ** with the text "Hello, world!"
    */
    label = gtk_label_new("Hello, world!");

    /* Plot the label onto the main window */
    gtk_container_add(GTK_CONTAINER(window), label);

    /* Make sure that everything, window and label, are visible */
    gtk_widget_show_all(window);

    /*
    ** Start the main loop, and do nothing (block) until
    ** the application is closed
    */
    gtk_main();

    return 0;
}

Needs installing the libraries first in debian or derivatives:

$ sudo apt-get install libgtk-3-dev

Using pkg-config in a Unix shell, this code can be compiled with the following command:

$ cc -Wall `pkg-config --cflags gtk+-3.0` -o helloworld helloworld.c `pkg-config --libs gtk+-3.0`

Invoke the program

$ ./helloworld

History[edit]

Linux/Unix[edit]

GTK was originally designed and used in the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) as a replacement of the Motif toolkit; at some point Peter Mattis became disenchanted with Motif and began to write his own GUI toolkit named the GIMP toolkit and had successfully replaced Motif by the 0.60 release of GIMP.[36] Finally GTK was re-written to be object-oriented and was renamed GTK+.[37] This was first used in the 0.99 release of GIMP. GTK was subsequently adopted for maintenance by the GNOME Foundation, which uses it in the GNOME desktop environment.

The GTK 2.0.0 release series introduced new features which include improved text rendering using Pango, a new theme engine, improved accessibility using the Accessibility Toolkit, transition to Unicode using UTF-8 strings, and a more flexible API. Starting with version 2.8, GTK 2 depends on the Cairo graphics library for rendering vector graphics.

GTK version 3.0.0 included revised input device handling, support for themes written with CSS-like syntax, and the ability to receive information about other opened GTK applications.

The '+' was dropped returning to simply 'GTK' in February 2019 during a Hackathon.[38]

macOS[edit]

With Quartz-Backend[39] GTK is available in macOS.[40]

Windows[edit]

  • After GTK 2.24.10 and 3.6.4 Development of Windows with Installer was closed by Gnome. Installation of MSYS2 on Windows is a good way to use actual GTK.[41]
  • GTK 2.24.10 and 3.6.4 is available in Internet, but very buggy and limited against actual versions.[42][43]
  • A Version for Windows 64-bit is prepared by Tom Schoonjans with 2.24.32 (actual like Linux) and 3.22.30 (actual like Linux) available.[44]
  • Windows 10's Fall Creators Update includes Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). With Linux distributions like Ubuntu or Debian available from the Windows Store and an X server like Xming or VcXsvr, thousands of programs like GTK 2 or 3 can run with X or terminal support.

OpenVMS[edit]

HP stated that their goal was to merge the needed OpenVMS changes into the GTK Version 1.3 development stream[45], however this never materialised. The latest version of GTK for OpenVMS is version 1.2.10.[46]

4.x[edit]

One of the cardinal novelties implemented during the GTK 4 development cycle (i.e. GTK 3.92, etc.) has been the delegation of functionality to ancillary objects instead of encoding it into the base classes provided by GTK.

  • the event handling from signal handlers described by GtkWidget is delegated to event controllers
  • the rendering is delegated to GtkSnapshot objects
  • the layout mechanism from GtkWidget is delegated to GtkLayoutManager

In 2018-Jan-26 at DevConf.cz Matthias Clasen gave an overview of the then current state of GTK 4 development, including a high-level explanation of how rendering and input worked in GTK 3, what changes were being made to GTK 4, and the reasons for those changes. Examples of things that have become possible with GTK 4 were given as well.[47]

Releases[edit]

The GNOME team releases new versions on a regular basis.[95]

See also[edit]

  • Client-Side Decoration
  • List of widget toolkits
  • GDK – the GIMP Drawing Kit lies between the xlib and the GTK library, handling basic rendering such as drawing primitives, raster graphics (bitmaps), cursors, fonts, as well as window events and drag-and-drop functionality
  • gtkmm – C++ bindings for GTK
  • Qt - cross platform framework and toolkit
  • Xojo - cross-platform development tool and framework
  • Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) – widget toolkit written for the Enlightenment window manager
  • FLTK – A light, cross-platform, non-native widget toolkit
  • FOX toolkit – A fast, open source, cross-platform widget toolkit
  • IUP – a multi-platform toolkit for building native graphical user interfaces
  • Ultimate++
  • Visual Component Library (VCL)

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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]