16.6 The Text Widget

Class Text implements a powerful multiline text editor, able to display images and embedded widgets as well as text in one or more fonts and colors. An instance t of Text supports many ways to refer to specific points in t's contents. t supplies methods and configuration options allowing fine-grained control of operations, content, and rendering. This section covers a large, frequently used subset of this vast functionality. In some very simple cases, you can get by with just three Text-specific idioms:

t.delete('1.0', END)             # clear the widget's contents
t.insert(END, astring)           # append astring to the widget's contents
somestring = t.get('1.0', END)   # get the widget's contents as a string

END is an index on any Text instance t, indicating the end of t's text. '1.0' is also an index, indicating the start of t's text (first line, first column). For more about indices, see Section 16.6.5 later in this chapter.

16.6.1 Text Widget Methods

An instance t of class Text supplies many methods. Methods dealing with marks and tags are covered in later sections. Many methods accept one or two indices into t's contents. The most frequently used methods are the following.



t.delete(i) removes t's character at index i. t.delete(i,j) removes all characters from index i to index j, included.



t.get(i) returns t's character at index i. t.get(i,j) returns a string made up of all characters from index i to index j, included.



Inserts an embedded image in t's contents at index i. Call image_create with option image=e, where e is a Tkinter image object, as covered in Section 16.2.4 earlier in this chapter.



Inserts string s in t's contents at index i. tags, if supplied, is a sequence of strings to attach as tags to the new text, as covered in Section 16.6.4 later in this chapter.



Finds the first occurrence of string pattern in t's contents not earlier than index i and returns a string that is the index of the occurrence, or an empty string '' if not found. Option nocase=True makes the search case-insensitive; by default, or with an explicit option nocase=False, the search is case-sensitive. Option stop=j makes the search stop at index j; by default, the search wraps around to the start of t's contents. When you need to avoid wrapping, you can use stop=END.



Scrolls t, if needed, to make sure the contents at index i are visible. If the contents at index i are already visible, see does nothing.



Inserts an embedded widget in t's contents at index i. t must be the parent of the widget w that you are inserting. Call window_create either with option window=w to insert an already existing widget w, or with option create=callable. If you use option create, Tkinter calls callable without arguments the first time the embedded widget needs to be displayed, and callable must create a widget w (with t as w's parent) and return w as callable's result. Option create lets you arrange creation of embedded widgets just in time and only if needed, and is useful as an optimization when you have many embedded widgets in a very long text.

xview, yview


xview and yview handle scrolling in horizontal and vertical directions respectively, and accept several different patterns of arguments. t.xview( ), without arguments, returns a tuple of two floats between 0.0 and 1.0 indicating the fraction of t's contents corresponding to the first (leftmost) and last (rightmost) currently visible columns. t.xview(MOVETO,frac) scrolls t left or right so that the first (leftmost) visible column becomes the one corresponding to fraction frac of t's contents, between 0.0 and 1.0. yview supports the same patterns of arguments, but uses lines rather than columns, and scrolls up and down rather than left and right. yview supports one more pattern of arguments: t.yview(i), for any index i, scrolls t up or down so that the first (topmost) visible line becomes the one of index i.

16.6.2 Giving Text a Scrollbar

You'll often want to couple a Scrollbar instance to a Text instance in order to let the user scroll through the text. The following example shows how to use a Scrollbar s to control vertical scrolling of a Text instance T:

import Tkinter

root = Tkinter.Tk(  )
s = Tkinter.Scrollbar(root)
T = Tkinter.Text(root)
T.focus_set(  )
s.pack(side=Tkinter.RIGHT, fill=Tkinter.Y)
T.pack(side=Tkinter.LEFT, fill=Tkinter.Y)
for i in range(40): T.insert(Tkinter.END, "This is line %d\n" % i)
Tkinter.mainloop(  )

16.6.3 Marks

A mark on a Text instance t is a symbolic name indicating a point within the contents of t. INSERT and CURRENT are predefined marks on any Text instance t, with special predefined meanings. INSERT names the point where the insertion cursor (also known as the text caret) is located in t. By default, when the user enters text at the keyboard with the focus on t, t inserts the text at index INSERT. CURRENT names the point in t that was closest to the mouse cursor when the user last moved the mouse within t. By default, when the user clicks the mouse on t, t gets focus and sets INSERT to CURRENT.

To create other marks on t, call method t.mark_set. Each mark is an arbitrary string containing no whitespace. To avoid any confusion with other forms of index, use no punctuation in a mark. A mark is an index, as covered in Section 16.6.5 later in this chapter; you can pass a string that is a mark on t wherever a method of t accepts an index argument.

When you insert or delete text before a mark m, m moves accordingly. Deleting a portion of text that surrounds m does not remove m. To remove a mark on t, call method t.mark_unset. What happens when you insert text at a mark m depends on m's gravity setting, which can be RIGHT (the default) or LEFT. When m has gravity RIGHT, m moves to remain at the end (i.e., to the right) of text inserted at m. When m has gravity LEFT, m does not move when you insert text at m: text inserted at m goes after m, and m itself remains at the start (i.e., to the left) of such inserted text.

A Text instance t supplies the following methods related to marks on t.



mark is a mark on t. t.mark_gravity(mark) returns mark's gravity setting, RIGHT or LEFT. t.mark_gravity(mark,gravity) sets mark's gravity to gravity, which must be RIGHT or LEFT.



If mark was not yet a mark on t, mark_set creates mark at index i. If mark was already a mark on t, mark_set moves mark to index i.



mark is a user-defined mark on t (not one of the predefined marks INSERT or CURRENT). mark_unset removes mark from among the marks on t.

16.6.4 Tags

A tag on a Text instance t is a symbolic name indicating zero or more regions (ranges) in the contents of a Text instance t. SEL is a predefined tag on any Text instance t, and names a single range of t that is selected, normally by the user dragging over it with the mouse. Tkinter typically displays the SEL range with distinctive background and foreground colors. To create other tags on t, call the t.tag_add or t.tag_config method, or use optional parameter tags of method t.insert. Ranges of various tags on t may overlap. t renders text having several tags by using options from the uppermost tag, according to calls to methods t.tag_raise or t.tag_lower. By default, a tag created more recently is above one created earlier.

Each tag is an arbitrary string containing no whitespace. Each tag has two indices, first (start of the tag's first range) and last (end of the tag's last range). You can pass a tag's index wherever a method of t accepts an index argument. SEL_FIRST and SEL_LAST indicate the first and last indices of predefined tag SEL.

A Text instance t supplies the following methods related to tags on t.



t.tag_add(tag,i) adds tag tag to the single character at index i in t. t.tag_add(tag,i,j) adds tag tag to characters from index i to index j.



t.tag_bind(tag,event_name,callable) sets callable as the callback object for event_name on tag's ranges. t.tag_bind(tag,event_name,callable,'+') adds callable to the previous bindings. Events, callbacks, and bindings are covered in Section 16.9 later in this chapter.



Returns the value currently associated with option tag_option for tag tag. For example, t.tag_cget(SEL,'background') returns the color that t is using as the background of t's selected range.



Sets or changes tag options associated with tag tag, determining the way t renders text in tag's region. The most frequently used tag options are:

background, foreground

Background and foreground colors

bgstipple, fgstipple

Background and foreground stipples, typically 'gray12', 'gray25', 'gray50', or 'gray75'; by default, solid colors (no stippling)


Width in pixels of the text border; default is 0 (no border)


Font used for text in the tag's ranges (see Section 16.6.6 later in this chapter)


Text justification, LEFT (default), CENTER, or RIGHT

lmargin1, lmargin2, rmargin

Left margin (first line, other lines) and right margin (all lines), in pixels; default is 0 (no margin)


Offset from baseline in pixels (greater than 0 for superscript, less than 0 for subscript); default is 0 (no offset, i.e., text aligned with the baseline)


If true, draw a line right over the text


Text relief: FLAT (default), SUNKEN, RAISED, GROOVE, or RIDGE

spacing1, spacing2, spacing3

Extra spacing in pixels (before first line, between lines, after last line); default is 0 (no extra spacing)


If true, draw a line under the text


Wrapping mode: WORD (default), CHAR, or NONE

For example:


tells t to display t's selected range with yellow text on a black background.



Forgets all information associated with tag tag on t.



Gives tag's options minimum priority for ranges overlapping with other tags.



Returns a sequence of strings whose items are all the tags that include index i. Called without arguments, returns a sequence of strings whose items are all the tags that currently exist on t.



Gives tag's options maximum priority for ranges overlapping with other tags.



Returns a sequence with an even number of strings (zero if tag is not a tag on t or has no ranges), alternating start and stop indices of tag's ranges.



t.tag_remove(tag,i) removes tag tag from the single character at index i in t. t.tag_remove(tag,i,j) removes tag tag from characters from index i to index j. Removing a tag from characters that do not have that tag is not an error; it's an innocuous no-operation.



t.tag_unbind(tag,event) removes any binding for event on tag's ranges. Events and bindings are covered in Section 16.9 later in this chapter.

16.6.5 Indices

All ways to indicate a spot in the contents of a Text instance t are known as indices on t. The basic form of an index is a string of the form '%d.%d'%(L,C), indicating the spot in the text that is at line L (the first line is 1), column C (the first column is 0). For example, '1.0' is a basic-form index indicating the start of text for any t. t.index(i) returns the basic-form equivalent to an index i of any form.

END is an index indicating the end of text for any t. '%d.end'%L, for any line number L, is an index indicating the end (the '\n' end-of-line marker) of line L. For example, '1.end' indicates the end of the first line. To get the number of characters in line number L of a Text instance t, you can use:

def line_length(t, L):
    return int(t.index('%d.end'%L).split('.')[-1])

'@%d,%d'%(x,y) is also an index on t, where x and y are coordinates in pixels within t's window.

Any tag on t is associated with two indices, strings '%s.first'%tag (the start of tag's first range) and '%s.last'%tag (the end of tag's last range). For example, right after t.tag_add('mytag',i,j), 'mytag.first' indicates the same spot in t as index i, and 'mytag.last' indicates the same spot in t as index j. Trying to use an index such as 'x.first' or 'x.last' when no characters in t are tagged with 'x' raises an exception.

SEL_FIRST and SEL_LAST are indices (the start and end of the selection, the SEL tag). Trying to use SEL_FIRST or SEL_LAST when there is no selected range on t, however, raises an exception.

Marks (covered earlier), including predefined marks INSERT and CURRENT, are also indices. Moreover, any image or widget embedded in t is also an index on t (methods image_create and window_create are also covered earlier in this chapter).

Another form of index, index expressions, are obtained by concatenating to the string form of any index one or more of the following modifier string literals:

'+ n chars ', '- n chars '

n characters toward the end or start of the text (including newlines)

'+ n lines ', '- n lines '

n lines toward the end or start of the text

'linestart', 'lineend'

Column 0 in the index's line or the '\n' in the index's line

'wordstart', 'wordend'

Start or end of the word that comprises the index (in this context, a word is a sequence of letters, digits, and underscores)

You can optionally omit spaces and abbreviate keywords (even down to one character). For example, '%s-4c'%END means "four characters before the end of t's text contents," and '%s+1line linestart'%SEL_LAST means "the start of the line immediately after the line where t's selection ends."

A Text instance t supplies two methods related to indices on t.



Returns True or False reflecting the comparison of indices i and j, where a lower number means earlier, and op is one of '<', '>', '<=', '>=', '= =', or '!='. For example, t.compare('1.0+90c','<',END) returns True if t contains more than 90 characters, counting each line end as a character.



Returns the basic form 'L.C' of index i where L and C are decimal string forms of the line and column of i (lines start from 1, columns start from 0).

16.6.6 Fonts

You can change fonts on any Tkinter widget with option font=font. In most cases it makes no sense to change widgets' fonts. However, in Text instances, and for specific tags on them, changing fonts can be quite useful.

Module tkFont supplies class Font, attributes BOLD, ITALIC, and NORMAL to define font characteristics, and functions families (returns a sequence of strings naming all families of available fonts) and names (returns a sequence of strings naming all user-defined fonts). Frequently used font options are:


Font family (e.g. 'courier' or 'helvetica')


Font size (in points if positive, in pixels if negative)


NORMAL (default) or ITALIC


NORMAL (default) or BOLD

An instance F of Font supplies the following frequently used methods.



F.actual( ), without arguments, returns a dictionary with all options actually used in F (best available approximations to those requested). F.actual(font_option) returns the value actually used in F for the option font_option.



Returns the value configured (i.e., requested) in F for font_option.



F.config( ), without arguments, returns a dictionary with all options configured (i.e., requested) in F. Called with one or more named arguments, config sets font options in F's configuration.


F.copy(  )

Returns a font G that is a copy of F. You can then modify either or both of F and G separately, and any modifications on one do not affect the other.

16.6.7 Text Example

To exemplify some of the many features of class Text, the following example shows one way to highlight all occurrences of a string in the text:

from Tkinter import *

root = Tk(  )

# at top of root, left to right, put a Label, an Entry, and a Button
fram = Frame(root)
Label(fram,text='Text to find:').pack(side=LEFT)
edit = Entry(fram)
edit.pack(side=LEFT, fill=BOTH, expand=1)
edit.focus_set(  )
butt = Button(fram, text='Find')

# fill rest of root with a Text and put some text there
text = Text(root)
'''Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
che la diritta via era smarrita

# action-function for the Button: highlight all occurrences of string
def find(  ):
    # remove previous uses of tag `found', if any
    text.tag_remove('found', '1.0', END)
    # get string to look for (if empty, no searching)
    s = edit.get(  )
    if s:
        # start from the beginning (and when we come to the end, stop)
        idx = '1.0'
        while 1:
            # find next occurrence, exit loop if no more
            idx = text.search(s, idx, nocase=1, stopindex=END)
            if not idx: break
            # index right after the end of the occurrence
            lastidx = '%s+%dc' % (idx, len(s))
            # tag the whole occurrence (start included, stop excluded)
            text.tag_add('found', idx, lastidx)
            # prepare to search for next occurrence
            idx = lastidx
        # use a red foreground for all the tagged occurrences
        text.tag_config('found', foreground='red')
    # give focus back to the Entry field
    edit.focus_set(  )

# install action-function to execute when user clicks Button

# start the whole show (go event-driven)
root.mainloop(  )

This example also shows how to use a Frame to perform a simple widget layout task (put three widgets side by side, with the Text below them all). Figure 16-1 shows this example in action.

Figure 16-1. Highlighting in a Text instance

    Part III: Python Library and Extension Modules