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       Gtk2::api - Mapping the Gtk+ C API to perl


       The Gtk2 module attempts to stick as close as is reasonable to the C API, to minimize the
       need to maintain documentation which is nearly a copy of the C API reference
       documentation.  However, the world is not perfect, and the mappings between C and perl are
       not as clean and predictable as you might wish.  Thus, this page described the basics of
       how to map the C API to the perl API, and lists various points in the API which follow
       neither the C API documentation nor the mapping principles.


       The canonical documentation is the C API reference at and

       There are two main sections: 'BINDING BASICS' describes the principles on which the
       bindings work; understanding these can lead you to guess the proper syntax to use for any
       given function described in the C API reference.  The second section lists various
       specific points of difference which don't necessarily correspond with what you expect;
       this section is in three main parts: missing methods, renamed methods, and different call


       We avoid deprecated APIs.  Many functions refer to C concepts which are alien to the
       bindings.  Many things have replacements.

   Deprecated Stuff Isn't Bound
       Things that were marked as deprecated at gtk+ 2.0.0 do not appear in the bindings.  This
       means that gtk+-1.x's GtkCList, GtkTree, and GtkText are not available.  The notable
       exception is GtkList, which is available solely in support of GtkCombo (which was itself
       replaced by GtkComboBox in 2.4); it should not be used under any other circumstances.  If
       you really need access to these old widgets, search the web for "Gtk2::Deprecated".

       Some other things were deprecated during the gtk+ 2.x series, e.g.  GtkOptionMenu was
       deprecated in favor of GtkComboBox in 2.4.  Things that were marked as deprecated during
       the 2.x series will not be removed, basically because older versions do not have the
       replacements, and removing them would break backward compatibility.

   Namespaces and Objects
       The namespaces of the C libraries are mapped to perl packages according to scope, although
       in some cases the distinction may seem rather arbitrary:

        g_ => Glib  (the Glib module - distributed separately)
        gtk_ => Gtk2
        gdk_ => Gtk2::Gdk
        gdk_pixbuf_ => Gtk2::Gdk::Pixbuf
        pango_ => Gtk2::Pango

       Objects get their own namespaces, in a way, as the concept of the GType is completely
       replaced in the perl bindings by the perl package name.  This goes for GBoxed, GObject,
       and even things like Glib::String and Glib::Int (which are needed for specifying column
       types in the Gtk2::TreeModel).  (Flags and enums are special -- see below.)

        GtkButton => Gtk2::Button
        GdkPixbuf => Gtk2::Gdk::Pixbuf
        GtkScrolledWindow => Gtk2::ScrolledWindow
        PangoFontDescription => Gtk2::Pango::FontDescription

       With this package mapping and perl's built-in method lookup, the bindings can do object
       casting for you.  This gives us a rather comfortably object-oriented syntax, using normal
       perl syntax semantics:

         in C:
           GtkWidget * b;
           b = gtk_check_button_new_with_mnemonic ("_Something");
           gtk_toggle_button_set_active (GTK_TOGGLE_BUTTON (b), TRUE);
           gtk_widget_show (b);

         in perl:
           my $b = Gtk2::CheckButton->new ('_Something');
           $b->set_active (1);

       You see from this that constructors for most widgets which allow mnemonics will use
       mnemonics by default in their "new" methods.  For those who don't guess this right off,
       Gtk2::Button->new_with_mnemonic is also available.  Cast macros are not necessary, and
       your code is a lot shorter.

   Flags and Enums
       Constants are handled as strings, because it's much more readable than numbers, and
       because it's automagical thanks to the GType system.  Constants are referred to by their
       nicknames; basically, strip the common prefix, lower-case it, and optionally convert '_'
       to '-':

         GTK_WINDOW_TOPLEVEL => 'toplevel'
         GTK_BUTTONS_OK_CANCEL => 'ok-cancel' (or 'ok_cancel')

       Flags are a special case.  You can't (sensibly) bitwise-or these string-constants, so you
       provide a reference to an array of them instead.  Anonymous arrays are useful here, and an
       empty anonymous array is a simple way to say 'no flags'.

         FOO_BAR_BAZ | FOO_BAR_QUU | FOO_BAR_QUUX => [qw/baz quu qux/]
         0 => []

       In some cases you need to see if a bit is set in a bitfield; methods returning flags
       therefore return an overloaded object.  See Glib for more details on which operations are
       allowed on these flag objects, but here is a quick example:

        in C:
         /* event->state is a bitfield */
         if (event->state & GDK_CONTROL_MASK) g_printerr ("control was down\n");

        in perl:
         # $event->state is a special object
         warn "control was down\n" if $event->state & "control-mask";

       But this also works:

         warn "control was down\n" if $event->state * "control-mask";
         warn "control was down\n" if $event->state >= "control-mask";
         warn "control and shift were down\n"
                                   if $event->state >= ["control-mask", "shift-mask"];

       And treating it as an array of strings (as in older versions) is still supported:

         warn "control was down\n" if grep /control-mask/, @{ $event->state };

       The gtk stock item stuff is a little different -- the GTK_STOCK_* constants are actually
       macros which evaluate to strings, so they aren't handled by the mechanism described above;
       you just specify the string, e.g., GTK_STOCK_OK => 'gtk-ok'. The full list of stock items
       can be found at

   Memory Handling
       The functions for ref'ing and unref'ing objects and free'ing boxed structures are not even
       mapped to perl, because it's all handled automagically by the bindings.  I could write a
       treatise on how we're handling reference counts and object lifetimes, but all you need to
       know as perl developer is that it's handled for you, and the object will be alive so long
       as you have a perl scalar pointing to it or the object is referenced in another way, e.g.
       from a container.

       The only thing you have to be careful about is the lifespan of non reference counted
       structures, which means most things derived from "Glib::Boxed".  If it comes from a signal
       callback it might be good only until you return, or if it's the insides of another object
       then it might be good only while that object lives.  If in doubt you can "copy".  Structs
       from "copy" or "new" are yours and live as long as referred to from Perl.

       Use normal perl callback/closure tricks with callbacks.  The most common use you'll have
       for callbacks is with the Glib "signal_connect" method:

         $widget->signal_connect (event => \&event_handler, $user_data);
         $button->signal_connect (clicked => sub { warn "hi!\n" });

       $user_data is optional, and with perl closures you don't often need it (see "Persistent
       variables with closures" in perlsub).

       The userdata is held in a scalar, initialized from what you give in "signal_connect" etc.
       It's passed to the callback in usual Perl "call by reference" style which means the
       callback can modify its last argument, ie. $_[-1], to modify the held userdata.  This is a
       little subtle, but you can use it for some "state" associated with the connection.

           $widget->signal_connect (activate => \&my_func, 1);
           sub my_func {
             print "activation count: $_[-1]\n";
             $_[-1] ++;

       Because the held userdata is a new scalar there's no change to the variable (etc) you
       originally passed to "signal_connect".

       If you have a parent object in the userdata (or closure) you have to be careful about
       circular references preventing parent and child being destroyed.  See "Two-Phased Garbage
       Collection" in perlobj about this generally.  In Gtk2-Perl toplevel widgets like
       "Gtk2::Window" always need an explicit "$widget->destroy" so their "destroy" signal is a
       good place to break circular references.  But for other widgets it's usually friendliest
       to avoid circularities in the first place, either by using weak references in the
       userdata, or possibly locating a parent dynamically with "$widget->get_ancestor".

       A major change from gtk-perl (the bindings for Gtk+-1.x) is that callbacks take their
       arguments in the order proscribed by the C documentation, and only one value is available
       for user data.  gtk-perl allowed you to pass multiple values for user_data, and always
       brought in the user_data immediately after the instance reference; this proved to be
       rather confusing, and did not follow the C API reference, so we decided not to do that for

       In C you can only return one value from a function, and it is a common practice to modify
       pointers passed in to simulate returning multiple values.  In perl, you can return lists;
       any functions which modify arguments have been changed to return them instead.  A common
       idiom in gtk is returning gboolean, and modifying several arguments if the function
       returns TRUE; for such functions, the perl wrapper just returns an empty list on failure.

         in C:  foo_get_baz_and_quux (foo, &baz, &quux);
         in perl:  ($baz, $quux) = $foo->get_baz_and_quux;

       Most things that take or return a GList, GSList, or array of values will use native perl
       arrays (or the argument stack) instead.

       You don't need to specify string lengths, although string length parameters should still
       be available for functions dealing with binary strings. You can always use "substr" to
       pass different parts of a string.

       Anything that uses GError in C will "croak" on failure, setting $@ to a magical exception
       object, which is overloaded to print as the returned error message.  The ideology here is
       that GError is to be used for runtime exceptions, and "croak" is how you do that in perl.
       You can catch a croak very easily by wrapping the function in an eval:

          eval {
             my $pixbuf = Gtk2::Gdk::Pixbuf->new_from_file ($filename);
             $image->set_from_pixbuf ($pixbuf);
          if ($@) {
             print "$@\n"; # prints the possibly-localized error message
             if (Glib::Error::matches ($@, 'Gtk2::Gdk::Pixbuf::Error',
                                           'unknown-format')) {
                change_format_and_try_again ();
             } elsif (Glib::Error::matches ($@, 'Glib::File::Error', 'noent')) {
                change_source_dir_and_try_again ();
             } else {
                # don't know how to handle this
                die $@;

       This has the added advantage of letting you bunch things together as you would with a
       try/throw/catch block in C++ -- you get cleaner code.  By using Glib::Error exception
       objects, you don't have to rely on string matching on a possibly localized error message;
       you can match errors by explicit and predictable conditions.  See Glib::Error for more


       g_object_ref   => no replacement
       g_object_unref => no replacement
       g_boxed_free   => no replacement
           The bindings do automatic memory management. You should never need to use these.

       gtk_timeout_add    => Glib::Timeout->add
       gtk_timeout_remove => Glib::Source->remove
       gtk_idle_add       => Glib::Idle->add
       gtk_idle_remove    => Glib::Source->remove
       gtk_input_add      => Glib::IO->add_watch
       gtk_input_remove   => Glib::Source->remove
           The gtk_* functions are deprecated in favor of the g_* ones.  Gtk2::Helper has a
           wrapper for Glib::IO->add_watch which makes it behave more like gtk_input_add.

       gtk_accel_group_from_accel_closure => no replacement
           Because of the use of Perl subroutine references in place of GClosures, there is no
           way to preserve at the Perl level the one-to-one mapping between GtkAccelGroups and
           GClosures.  Without that mapping, this function is useless.


       gtk_aspect_frame_set     => $aspect_frame->set_params
           Avoid a clash with $gobject->set.


       As a general rule function that take a pair of parameters, a list and the number of
       elements in that list, will normally omit the number of elements and just accept a
       variable number of arguments that will be converted into the list and number of elements.
       In many instances parameters have been reordered so that this will work.  See below for
       exceptions and specific cases that are not detailed in the generated Perl API reference.

       Gtk2::ScrollBar vs. GtkScrollbar
           These classes were incorrectly written with a capital "B" in version 1.00 and below.
           They have been renamed in version 1.01 and the old way to write them is deprecated,
           but supported.

           The n_entries parameter has been omitted and callback_data is accepted as the first
           parameter. All parameters after that are considered to be entries.

           Position and items parameters flipped order so that an open ended parameter list could
           be used. "$list->insert_items($position, $item1, $item2, ...)"  (Note that GtkList and
           GtkListItem are deprecated and only included because GtkCombo still makes use of them,
           they are subject to removal at any point so you should not utilize them unless
           absolutely necessary.)

           The C API for these functions requires a GtkWidget for the tab_label, since you can
           set any widget you like to be the tab label.  However, the most common use is a plain
           Gtk2::Label; so these three functions will stringify anything passed to tab_label
           that's not a GtkWidget and wrap a Gtk2::Label around it for you.

           Note that the "_menu" versions of these functions do not do this.

           Where a GClosure is wanted by the C stuff, a perl subroutine reference suffices.
           However, because of this, there are a few subtle differences in semantics.  a GClosure
           may be connected to only one GtkAccelGroup; however, a perl subroutine may be
           connected to many GtkAccelGroups (because at the binding level, a new GClosure is
           created on each call to ->connect).  Thus, $accel_group->disconnect will disconnect
           the first group it finds to be connected to the given perl subroutine.  To disconnect
           all groups attached to a subroutine, you can call disconnect with the same subroutine
           reference (or name) until it stops returning true.

           In C, these functions take an array of GtkTargetEntries and the number of elements in
           that array as the second and third parameters.  In Perl, the number of target entries
           is implied by the number of items on the stack, and the target entries are supplied as
           a list at the end of the parameter list:

            $clipboard->set_with_data (\&get_func, \&clear_func, $user_data,
            $clipboard->set_with_owner (\&get_func, \&clear_func, $owner,


       The canonical documentation is the C API reference at and

       Gtk2 includes a full suite of automatically-generated API reference POD for the Perl API
       -- see Gtk2::index for the starting point.

       There should be a similar document for Glib --- link to it here when it exists.


       muppet <scott at asofyet dot org>


       Copyright (C) 2003, 2009 by the gtk2-perl team (see the file AUTHORS for the full list)

       This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of
       the GNU Library General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation;
       either version 2.1 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

       This library is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY;
       without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
       See the GNU Library General Public License for more details.

       You should have received a copy of the GNU Library General Public License along with this
       library; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth
       Floor, Boston, MA  02110-1301  USA.