What is the Gtk+ Toolkit

Gtk+ is a toolkit for the development of rich GUI applications on Linux and other UNIX operating systems. The main advantage of Gtk+ is the fact that it has an advanced architecture and it is free software, available for commercial and/or free software development.

The X Window System provides the means for applications to define their own look and feel. Thus, each application is free to decide how their menus and buttons will look like.

However, it is not a good measure to let each application to use a completely different input method. The main reason is that it is necessary to have consistency between applications in the same group. For example, once a user learns how a document processing application works, it is interesting to use the same visual elements in other applications. This is the main selling point of the Microsoft Office suite, where all applications are tightly integrated.

To address this issue, a number of toolkits have been developed for the X Window system. Some of the oldest ones are still in use, such as the Xt -- the most basic toolkit. Another example is Motif, which was the first professional quality toolkit available for UNIX. Many applications are still developed on Motif to this date.

Two modern toolkits for X Window are most popular nowadays. First, Gtk+, which was developed as a toolkit for the Gimp graphical editor. It is nowadays used as the main toolkit on the Gnome project, a Gnu initiative to create a common desktop.

Another close contandant is the Qt, a toolkit develop in C++ by the Trolltech company. This toolkit is also used in a major desktop project, the KDE desktop, which is used by many Linux distributions.

Deciding on a toolkit is an important step in the development of an application, because it has an impact on the available facilities for user input. Also, the choice of the toolkit can influence and be influence by the language used in the project development. For example, for C++ users the Qt toolkit is more familiar than Gtk+, while the opposite is true for C developers.

Tags: X, programming, Linux, Unix, X, Windows, Toolkit, Gtk, Qt, Gnome, KDE
Article created on 2010-08-19 09:40:31

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