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wxWidgets - Cross-Platform GUI Library

Cross-Platform GUI Programming with wxWidgets

wxWidgets has its own 700-page book to help you learn or brush up on your cross-platform programming skills. Written by Julian Smart and Kevin Hock with Stefan Csomor, "Cross-Platform GUI Programming with wxWidgets" was published on July 27th 2005 by Prentice Hall as part of Bruce Perens' Open Source Series.

The book comes packed with useful information and samples. The accompanying CD-ROM contains source code, compilers and tools, and includes DialogBlocks, a powerful dialog editor for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X which will also help you compile your applications and wxWidgets itself.

"Cross-Platform GUI Programming with wxWidgets is the best way for beginning developers to learn wxWidgets programming in C++, and is a valuable resource for experienced wxWidgets programmers looking to expand their skills. This book is a must-have both for programmers thinking of using wxWidgets and for those already using it."

Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Software and the Open Source Applications Foundation

Please note: From feedback we're getting, it's easy to miss the setup instructions in Appendix B and Appendix C that tell you how to build your own applications using popular compilers. In particular, you should find that DialogBlocks (included on the accompanying CD-ROM) is a quick way to get started, compiling both the wxWidgets library and your own first wxWidgets applications.

Where to Buy

We recommend purchasing a copy from Amazon, which will help us earn a bit extra from each sale.

The wxWidgets book is available to be read online by subscribing to Safari Books Online.

In addition to Amazon, the book can be ordered from:

We will be monitoring where else the book is available. The authors do not currently sell the book directly.

Thank you for your support!

Chapter Summary

Chapter 1: Introduction

What is wxWidgets, and why use it? A brief history; the wxWidgets community; the license; wxWidgets ports and architecture explained.

Chapter 2: Getting started

A small wxWidgets sample: the application class; the main window; the event table; an outline of program flow.

Chapter 3: Event handling

Event tables and handlers; how a button click is processed; skipping events; pluggable and dynamic event handlers; defining custom events; window identifiers.

Chapter 4: Window basics

The main features of a window explained; a quick guide to the commonest window classes; base window classes such as wxWindow; top-level windows; container windows; non-static controls; static controls; menus; control bars.

Chapter 5: Drawing and printing

Device context principles; the main device context classes described; buffered drawing; drawing tools; device context drawing functions; using the printing framework; 3D graphics with wxGLCanvas.

Chapter 6: Handling input

Handling mouse and mouse wheel events; handling keyboard events; keycodes; modifier key variations; accelerators; handling joystick events.

Chapter 7: Window layout using sizers

Layout basics; sizers introduced; common features of sizers; programming with sizers. Further layout issues: dialog units; platform-adaptive layouts; dynamic layouts.

Chapter 8: Using standard dialogs

Informative dialogs such as wxMessageBox and wxProgressDialog; file and directory dialogs such as wxFileDialog; choice and selection dialogs such as wxColourDialog and wxFontDialog; entry dialogs such as wxTextEntryDialog and wxFindReplaceDialog; printing dialogs: wxPageSetupDialog and wxPrintDialog.

Chapter 9: Creating custom dialogs

Steps in creating a custom dialog; an example: PersonalRecordDialog; deriving a new class; designing data storage; coding the controls and layout; data transfer and validation; handling events; handling UI updates; adding help; adapting dialogs for small devices; further considerations in dialog design; using wxWidgets resource files; loading resources; using binary and embedded resource files; translating resources; the XRC format; writing resource handlers; foreign controls.

Chapter 10: Programming with images

Image classes in wxWidgets; programming with wxBitmap; programming with wxIcon; programming with wxCursor; programming with wxImage; image lists and icon bundles; customizing wxWidgets graphics with wxArtProvider.

Chapter 11: Clipboard and drag and drop

Data objects; data source duties; data target duties; using the clipboard; implementing drag and drop; implementing a drag source; implementing a drop target; using standard drop targets; creating a custom drop target; more on wxDataObject; drag and drop helpers in wxWidgets.

Chapter 12: Advanced window classes

wxTreeCtrl; wxListCtrl; wxWizard; wxHtmlWindow; wxGrid; wxTaskBarIcon; writing your own controls; the control declaration; defining a new event class; displaying information; handling input; defining default event handlers; implementing validators; implementing resource handlers; determining control appearance.

Chapter 13: Data structure classes

Why not STL? wxString; wxStringTokenizer; wxRegEx; wxArray; wxList; wxHashMap; dates and times; wxObject; wxLongLong; wxPoint and wxRealPoint; wxRect; wxRegion; wxSize; wxVariant.

Chapter 14: Files and streams

wxFile and wxFFile; wxTextFile; wxTempFile; wxDir; wxFileName; file functions; file streams; memory and string streams; data streams; socket streams; filter streams; zip streams; virtual file systems.

Chapter 15: Memory management, debugging and error checking

Creating and deleting window objects; creating and copying drawing objects; initializing your application object; cleaning up your application; detecting memory leaks and other errors; facilities for defensive programming; error reporting; providing run-time type information; using wxModule; loading dynamic libraries; exception handling; debugging tips.

Chapter 16: Writing international applications

Introduction to internationalization; providing translations; using message catalogs; using wxLocale; character encodings and Unicode; converting data; help files; numbers and dates; other media; an example.

Chapter 17: Writing multithreaded applications

When to use threads, and when not to; using wxThread; thread creation; starting the thread; how to pause a thread or wait for an external condition; termination; synchronization objects; wxMutex; deadlocks; wxCriticalSection; wxCondition; wxSemaphore; the wxWidgets thread sample; alternatives to multithreading: wxTimer, idle time processing, and yielding.

Chapter 18: Programming with wxSocket

Socket classes and functionality overview; introduction to sockets and basic socket processing; the client; the server; connecting to a server; socket events; socket status and error notifications; sending and receiving socket data; creating a server; socket event recap; socket flags; blocking and non- blocking sockets in wxWidgets; how flags affect socket behavior; using wxSocket as a standard socket; using socket streams; alternatives to wxSocket.

Chapter 19: Working with documents and views

Document/view basics; choosing an interface style; creating and using frame classes; defining your document and view classes; defining your window classes; using wxDocManager and wxDocTemplate; other document/view capabilities; standard identifiers; printing and previewing; file history; explicit document creation; strategies for implementing undo/redo.

Chapter 20: Perfecting your application

Single instance versus multiple instances; modifying event handling; reducing flicker; using a help controller; extended wxWidgets HTML help; authoring help; other ways to provide help; parsing the command line; storing application resources; invoking other applications; launching documents; redirecting process input and output; managing application settings; application installation on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X; following UI design guidelines.

Appendix A: Installing wxWidgets

Downloading and unpacking wxWidgets; configuration/build options; Windows - Microsoft Visual Studio and VC++ command-line; Windows - Borland C++; Windows - MinGW with and without MSYS; Unix/Linux and Mac OS X - GCC; customizing setup.h; rebuilding after updating wxWidgets files; using "contrib" libraries.

Appendix B: Building your own wxWidgets applications

Windows - Microsoft Visual Studio; Linux - KDevelop; Mac OS X - Xcode; makefiles; cross-platform builds using Bakefile; wxWidgets symbols and headers; using wx-config.

Appendix C: Creating applications with DialogBlocks

What is DialogBlocks? Installing and upgrading DialogBlocks; the DialogBlocks interface; the sample project; compiling the sample; creating a new project; creating a dialog; creating a frame; creating an application object; debugging your application.

Appendix D: Other features in wxWidgets

Further window classes; ODBC classes; MIME types manager; network functionality; multimedia classes; embedded web browsers; accessibility; OLE automation; renderer classes; event loops.

Appendix E: Third-party tools for wxWidgets

Language bindings such as wxPython and wxPerl; tools such as wxDesigner, DialogBlocks and poEdit; add-on libraries such as wxMozilla, wxCURL, wxPropertyGrid.

Appendix F: wxWidgets application showcase

Descriptions of notable wxWidgets applications, such as AOL Communicator and Audacity.

Appendix G: Using the CD-ROM

Browsing the CD-ROM; the CD-ROM contents.

Appendix H: How wxWidgets processes events

An illustrated description of how event processing works.

Appendix I: Event classes and macros

A summary of the important event classes and macros.

Appendix J: Code Listings

Code listings for the PersonalRecordDialog and the wxWizard examples.

Appendix K: Porting from MFC

General observations; application initialization; message maps; converting dialogs and other resources; documents and views; printing; string handling and translation; database access; configurable control bars; equivalent functionality by macros and classes.

The CD-ROM Contents

The acommpanying CD-ROM contains the following:

  • wxWidgets 2.6.1: wxWidgets source code for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and more platforms.
  • Sample Code: Browse the samples and code snippets from the book, using an HTML interface.
  • Bonus Sample: The CD also contains a 'bonus' sample, a little image viewer application called Riffle with source and binaries for four platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Pocket PC 2003. The sample has scripts to create installations for all four platforms, which you can adapt for your own applications.
  • DialogBlocks Personal Edition: Compile wxWidgets and the samples easily with DialogBlocks Personal Edition, a version of the sophisticated dialog editor from Anthemion Software Ltd., for personal use. Binaries are supplied for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
  • Windows Compilers: The following Windows compilers are supplied, and all may be used to compile wxWidgets (using DialogBlocks or other means).
    • OpenWatcom C++ 1.3. Maintained by SciTech Software Inc., Sybase and the open source community, OpenWatcom C++ has everything required for building Windows applications.
    • MinGW 3.1.0-1
    • Digital Mars C++


You can download the examples from here (9.6 MB).


Please see the errata page.