Styles and ThemesΒΆ

My understanding is that the motivation and attraction of ttk is that one may compose a GUI and it will look “normal” when run in any of the common OS’s - Linux, UNIX, Windows, or OS X. But what I want to do is be able to manipulate the Themes and Styles in a way that let the user depart from the norm; I want to be able to escape from the “small gray world of the normal appearance”. Unfortunately, there seems to be various ttk inconsistencies which thwart that objective. This section will discuss some of the barriers that I hit with ttk styles.

This is an area that remains confusing to me. If one is interested using a GUI color scheme different for the default gray for Linux and MS, then one has to confront Styles. I was unable to make much progress until I received a great deal of help from Guilherme Polo which got me to the point I am at now. I am not sure that I have found a particularly good way of achieving my results. So I have tried to make style commands as clear as possible so that the user can understand what I have done and change it accordingly. If a user knows a better way of doing this please let me know and I shall try to incorporate it in a future release. Also, Maksim Korzh was instrumental in providing the Style coding for the PNotebook widget.

My expectation of the whole style and theme business is that one GUI program would give pleasing and consistent results when run on different systems. I am not sure that has been achieved, see my example of two different examples run on different systems at the end of this sections. Also, I expect the situation to work in the face of different color schemes.

First I would like to automatically generate code for the user which would follow his color scheme. Consider the following code for a GUI window that contains a tabbed notebook with a background color of wheat:

def __init__(self, master=None):
    _bgcolor = 'wheat'  # X11 color: #f5deb3
    _fgcolor = '#000000'  # X11 color: 'black'
    _compcolor = '#b2c9f4' # Closest X11 color: 'SlateGray2'
    _ana1color = '#eaf4b2' # Closest X11 color: '{pale goldenrod}'
    _ana2color = '#f4bcb2' # Closest X11 color: 'RosyBrown2'
    font10 = "-family {DejaVu Sans} -size 14 -weight normal -slant roman -underline 0 -overstrike 0" = ttk.Style()
    if sys.platform == "win32":'winnative')'.',background=_bgcolor)'.',foreground=_fgcolor)'.',font=font10)'.',background=
        [('selected', _compcolor), ('active',_ana2color)])
        [('selected', _compcolor), ('active',_ana2color)])
    self.TNotebook1 = ttk.Notebook(master),rely=0.16,relheight=0.51,relwidth=0.5)
    self.TNotebook1_pg0 = ttk.Frame(self.TNotebook1)
    self.TNotebook1.add(self.TNotebook1_pg0, padding=3), text="Page 1",underline="-1",)
    self.TNotebook1_pg1 = ttk.Frame(self.TNotebook1)
    self.TNotebook1.add(self.TNotebook1_pg1, padding=3), text="Page 2",underline="-1",)

The first group of statements in __init__define define the default GUI colors and the default GUI fonts. These setting come directly from the user’s preference choices. I added the comments to the color statements so that the user would have a little clearer picture was to what was going on. Similarly, there are several different ways to specify fonts and I think that the string format that I used may be the clearest for the user to understand and modify. The complementary color and the two analog colors were calculated from algorithms found on the net. I have included as comments the names of the closest or exact X11 color. Also, if the color is specified by the X11 name a comment contains the hex vaue.

_bgcolor = 'wheat' # RGV value #f5deb3
_fgcolor = '#000000' # Closest X11 color: 'black'
_compcolor = '#b2c9f4' # Closest X11 color: 'SlateGray2'
_ana1color = '#eaf4b2' # Closest X11 color: '{pale goldenrod}'
_ana2color = '#f4bcb2' # Closest X11 color: 'RosyBrown2'
font10 = "-family {DejaVu Sans} -size 14 -weight normal -slant roman -underline 0 -overstrike 0"

The next group of statements obtain the ttk style in use and set the background and foreground color defaults for ttk as well as colors for highlight and active colors. = ttk.Style()
if sys.platform == "win32":'winnative')'.',background=_bgcolor)'.',foreground=_fgcolor)'.',font=font10)'.',background=
    [('selected', _compcolor), ('active',_ana2color)])

This will handle most of the color setting for ttk but not all of them. I expected that all the style configuration in ttk would be inherited from the ‘.’ object; that seems not to be the case. Notice that the second and third lines of code above cause the “winnative” theme to be used when the code is run under Windows.

The following fixes the background color of the Toplevel window.


Since the tabbed notebook is in use, we encounter one of the ttk “exceptions” - colors for notebook tabs. Hence, the following code:

_compcolor = '#b2c9f4' # Closest X11 color: 'SlateGray2'
_ana1color = '#eaf4b2' # Closest X11 color: '{pale goldenrod}'
_ana2color = '#f4bcb2' # Closest X11 color: 'RosyBrown2'

I came across some code which purports to calculate the complement and analogs of a color and used that to calculate the above colors. I also used similar code to translate the RGB coding to the name of the closest X11 color so that the user can get some idea of the color and easily change them if desired.

Next comes one of the special cases, note book tabs. Here I have specified background and foreground colors for the tabs since they are not inherited from the ”.” ttk object.'TNotebook.Tab',background=_bgcolor)'TNotebook.Tab',foreground=_fgcolor)

and finally I make the color of the selected tab the complement of the background color as defined above, and the color of the tab under the mouse one of the analog colors from above. This is sort of automating the theme color selection and I really don’t want to do that. It just seemed necessary to compete the task. I hope the user is able to derive from the example, the changes he wishes to make.'TNotebook.Tab',background=
    [('selected', _compcolor), ('active',_ana2color)])

The above shows the code I added to make the notebook widget look consistent. Similar tricks can be seen for treeview widgets, scrollbars, labeled frames, etc. Again, if you see better or clearer ways of handling style components please let me know.

I did all of my development work on Linux. As an illustration of the same PAGE-generated GUI running under different systems, let me present the following screens shots of (vrex is one of the examples discussed later in the examples section):


Above: Running vrex running on Linux. This is what I built using PAGE on Linux..


Above: Running vrex running on Wine. This is close except for the enlarged font.


Above: Running vrex running on Windows XP.


Above: Running vrex running on Windows XP using the “winnative” theme. This looks pretty good except for the background color in the menubar and the sizegrep.


Above: Running vrex running on OS X.

As one can see there are differences in appearance but on the whole it seems to work reasonable well for this example. That is fortunate because the main feature of the example is the use of paned windows and scrolled text widgets and they are certainly important for GUI building.

However, I created another GUI, named which can be found in the examples subdirectory, containing one each of TNotebook, TButton, TRadiobutton, Tlabel, Label, and Button. As you can see below the results were not quite as good.


Above: Running pptest running on Linux.


Above: Running pptest running on Wine.


Above: Running pptest running on Windows XP. This is rather weak mainly because the backgrounds and foregrounds of the notebook tabs are not correct. Actually if you run the example and select one of the tabs you will not be able to see the foreground, it is white as it should be, but the background is also white when it should be a dark color. Also notice that the TButton, TRadiobutton, and the label all have different background colors as does the background color of the page frame. This is unfortunate because while the TButton, and TRadiobutton can be avoided, the notebook widget is important. I have discovered that though unlisted in the documentation, there is an “xptheme” which is used when running under XP and it appears less satisfactory than the “winnative” theme also not mentioned in the documentation.


Above: Running pptest on Windows XP while specifying “winnative” as the theme. This one looks correct as far as the notebook widget is concerned and that is a step ahead of the “xptheme” is concerned.


Above: Running pptest running on OS X. My judgment is that this is OK.

I am at a loss to understand what happened with XP example. Clearly something pretty subtle is happening with ttk themes. I have not found any adequate documentation about themes and styles that can help me puzzle this out. I did notice that the library directory in the ActiveTcl distribution has an “xptheme” and “winnative” themes which are not mentioned at all in documentation and which may mean the ttk may behave differently under XP than under other versions of MS windows. And we see such a difference between the XP and Wine executions of this example and Vrex.

I concluded that it would be better if I generated code which forces the “winnative” theme when the generated GUI is run on Windows. It seems preferable to me to have the sizegrip with an incorrect background but a better rendering of the notebook widget than the other way around. Any comments, help, or suggestions will be very welcome.

From the above and similar experiences, for my own use, I avoid ttk widgets which are also implemented as tk widgets such as buttons, labels, frames, checkboxs, and radiobuttons, because of the inconsistencies of design, documentation and/or implementation but use notebook, paned window, progress bar, and treeview, because of their convenience. I intend to keep looking at the ttk problems and if I can learn how to avoid them I will certainly do so.