Time Tools, Threads, and Animation

The last stop on our widget tour is the most unique. Tkinter also comes with a handful of tools that have to do with the event-driven programming model, not graphics displayed on a computer screen.

Some GUI applications need to perform background activities periodically. For example, to “blink” a widget’s appearance, we’d like to register a callback handler to be invoked at regular time intervals. Similarly, it’s not a good idea to let a long-running file operation block other activity in a GUI; if the event loop could be forced to update periodically, the GUI could remain responsive. Tkinter comes with tools for both scheduling such delayed actions and forcing screen updates:

widget.after( milliseconds, function, *args )

This tool schedules the function to be called after a number of milliseconds. function can be any callable Python object: a function, bound method, etc. This form of the call does not pause the program -- the callback function is run later from the normal Tkinter event loop. The milliseconds value can be a floating point number, to specify fractions of a second. This returns an ID which can be passed to after_cancel to cancel the callback. Since this method is so commonly used, I’ll say more about it by example in a moment.

widget.after( milliseconds )

This tool pauses the program for a number of milliseconds. For example, an argument of 5000 pauses for 5 seconds. This is essentially the same as Python’s library function ...

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