Ruby TK – Events, Timers

Widget Events

Existing widgets will change as a result of an event, such as mouse-clicks, cursor movements and user input. When an event is fired, a callback function is invoked.

To bind an event to a widget, you would use the bind function of the widget using the function:

bind <event>, proc {command}

For example:

bind "1", proc {puts "Hello, world"}

Time Events

There is another sort of event to be used when a duration of time passes. To bind such an event, you should use a Timer object defined in ‘tk/timer’.

The syntax for creation of a timer event is:

my_timer =, nTimes, proc {command})

To start the timer, use the method ‘start’ as follows:
Timer object start as the method ‘start’ is invoked. Commands following the timer start are performed simultaneously with the command passed to the object. If you don’t want other actions taking place while the timer perform its task, you can use the method:


You can see an example of using two timers in the following code from the function ‘show_solution”  in my Klotski puzzle solver, 1500, proc {move_piece 'move'=>[3,1,1,0]})
  my_timer.wait, 1000, proc {move_piece 'move'=>[3,1,0,1]})

The code above getw the big square out of the frame. The square moves down 3 postions, and the 2 positions to the right.

The full can be downloaded from here.


Creating Windows With Ruby Tk – Widgets

In the previous chapter, you saw how to create a simple window. This window is an object of class TkRoot, which is implicitly created when running a Tk application. You better create it explicitly, so you don’t have a default window with a default title. e.g. {title 'My Title'}

TkRoot is a singleton object, and its method ‘new’ does not instantiate an object, but returns an existing one. The method ‘new’ only reads the attached block and performs it to configure the default window. If you want similar windows, use ‘TkToplevel’.

Now, you can add widgets to your windows using

myWidget=<widgetname>.new(<parent>) {<block>}

When ‘widgetname’ is the widget’s class, the class name is ‘Tk’ followed by the widget name as defined in Active Perl.

‘parent’ is the parent widget in which you want to put your new widget. If parent is not specified, your widget will be added to the ‘TkRoot’ window.

‘block’ is a block of commands to be performed, mainly methods to configure your widget. For example {width 90; height 36; background 'blue'}

Because widgets are used for input and output we don’t just put it in windows. For example, a button should response to clicks, so we make it respond to the left click by:

button.bind '1', proc {puts 'button clicked!'}

Or, a common input text field is the widget TkEntry. To read the entered text, we use the expression:

Something I don’t like is that to get the value from a TkCheckbutton widget, you use its get_value method` they can use some consistency.

To set a default value: {insert 0,'some text'}

We can use TkEntry as a password field by invoking the method ‘show’: {show '*'}

To learn more about widgets read ActivePerl.

Creating Windows With Ruby Tk

The Ruby language supports creating windows for GUI (Graphic User Interface). GUI applications are programs that respond to user input, which are usually mouse events, such as clicking buttons, clicking menus, etc.

A GUI application may consist of the following types of objects:

  • Widgets – basic GUI objects that can be put directly in the window. Most of them generate events as a response to user actions. A label is a widget, too, but, usually does not generate events.
  • Shapes – lines, arcs, circles, polygons and other that belong on a canvas.
  • Timers – threads that perform an action the number of times specified and sleep for the  specified duration. From the definition “thread” you can understand that they run in parallel.

The simplest Ruby Tk program is:

require 'tk'

This program displays the following window:

This is the default window. It is displayed on the screen when the line ‘Tk.mainloop’ is performed. Until this window is closed, no commands that are not responses to events will be executed.

“Programing Ruby – The Pragmatic Programmers Guide” suggests that you look at Perl/Tk guides to learn how to use Tk. A good place to look for Perl’s objects and their methods is Active Perl. I’m not going to write here the complete guide to Ruby Tk, but I hope the following chapters will help you understand how it works.

To be continued.