WxWidgets: Cross Platform GUI Programming

wxWidgets is a programmer’s toolkit for writing desktop or mobile applications with graphical user interfaces(GUIs). It’s a framework, in the sense that it does a lot of the housekeeping work and provides default application behavior. The wxWidgets library contains a large number of classes and methods for the programmer to use and customize. Applications typically show windows containing standard controls, possibly drawing specialized images and graphics and responding to input from the mouse, keyboard, or other sources. They may also communicate with other processes or drive other programs. In other words, wxWidgets makes it relatively easy for the programmer to write an application that does all the usual things modern applications do. While wxWidgets is often labeled a GUI development toolkit, it is in fact much more than that and has features that are useful for many aspects of application development. This has to be the case because all of a wxWidgets application needs to be portable to different platforms, not just the GUI part, wxWidgets provides classes for files and streams, multiple threads, application settings, interprocess communication, online help, database access, and much more.

One area where wxWidgets differs from many other frameworks, such as MFC or OWL, is its multi-platform nature. wxWidgets has an Application Programming Interface (API) that is the same, or very nearly the same, on all supported platforms. This means that you can write an application on Windows, for example, and with very few changes (if any) recompile it on Linux or Mac OS X. This has a huge cost benefit compared with completely rewriting an application for each platform, and it also means that you do not need to learn a different API for each platform. Furthermore, it helps to future-proof your applications. As the computing landscape changes, wxWidgets changes with it, allowing your application to be ported to the latest and the greatest systems supporting the newest features.

Table 1-1 shows the four conceptual layers: the wxWidgets public API, each major port, the platform API used by that port, and finally the underlying operating system.

Table 1-1 wxWidgets Ports

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