5 Best Ways to Display a Table Editor in a Tkinter Text Widget

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: You’re working on a Tkinter application and need to display tabular data within a text widget for editing purposes. Ideally, you want users to interact with a table as they would in a spreadsheet. The input is a dataset, perhaps a list of lists, and the desired output is a graphical table embedded within the Tkinter Text widget, allowing data to be viewed and edited.

Method 1: Using the tkinter.Text() Widget with Manual Spacing

One straightforward way to create a table editor in a text widget is to manually manage the spacing of strings to mimic table cells. You would use string formatting to align text into columns, simulating a table structure. This method offers simplicity but lacks advanced features like cell selection or interactive editing.

Here’s an example:

import tkinter as tk

root = tk.Tk()
text_widget = tk.Text(root)
data = [['row1col1', 'row1col2'], ['row2col1', 'row2col2']]

for row in data:
    row_data = ' | '.join(row)
    text_widget.insert(tk.END, row_data + '\n')


Output: A text widget displaying two rows of data with simple column separation.

This code snippet creates a Tkinter window with a text widget. It inserts strings into the text widget, with data formatted to appear as two columns in each row. This approach, while crude, can be adequate for displaying simple, non-interactive tables.

Method 2: Creating Custom Table with tkinter.Canvas and tkinter.Entry Widgets

By combining the Canvas and Entry widgets, you can craft a custom table editor. Use the Canvas to position the Entry widgets in grid-like fashion. This approach can be customizable and creates an editable table, but it also requires more code and intricate widget management.

Here’s an example:

import tkinter as tk

root = tk.Tk()
canvas = tk.Canvas(root)

data = [['row1col1', 'row1col2'], ['row2col1', 'row2col2']]
entries = []

for i, row in enumerate(data):
    temp = []
    for j, val in enumerate(row):
        entry = tk.Entry(canvas)
        canvas.create_window(100*j, 20*i, window=entry)
        entry.insert(0, val)


Output: A canvas with entry widgets arranged to represent a table where each cell is editable.

This snippet constructs a table where each cell is a Tkinter Entry widget positioned on a Canvas. Users can directly edit the content of each cell, and you can retrieve the data programmatically from the Entry widgets.

Method 3: Using the tkinter.ttk.Treeview as a Table

The ttk.Treeview widget works as a multi-column listbox that can be configured to look like a table. It’s a part of Tkinter’s themed widget set ttk and offers a powerful alternative for displaying table data with functionalities like sorting and selecting rows.

Here’s an example:

import tkinter as tk
from tkinter import ttk

root = tk.Tk()
tree = ttk.Treeview(root, columns=('Column 1', 'Column 2'), show='headings')
tree.heading('Column 1', text='Column 1')
tree.heading('Column 2', text='Column 2')

data = [('row1col1', 'row1col2'), ('row2col1', 'row2col2')]
for row in data:
    tree.insert('', tk.END, values=row)


Output: A Treeview widget displaying data in two columns with headers, resembling a table.

This code demonstrates how to set up a ttk.Treeview widget as a table with two columns. The Treeview widget can be a perfect component for a table editor in a Tkinter application when you want a more sophisticated interface that includes functionalities like column headings and row selection.

Method 4: Embedding matplotlib Table in Tkinter

For a more visually appealing and customizable table, consider embedding a matplotlib table into your Tkinter application using a FigureCanvasTkAgg widget. Though primarily used for plotting graphs, matplotlib can also render tables that can be highly stylized.

Here’s an example:

import tkinter as tk
from matplotlib.backends.backend_tkagg import FigureCanvasTkAgg
from matplotlib.figure import Figure

root = tk.Tk()
fig = Figure(figsize=(2, 1), dpi=100)
table = fig.add_subplot(111)

cell_text = [['1', '2'], ['3', '4']]
table.table(cellText=cell_text, loc='center')

canvas = FigureCanvasTkAgg(fig, master=root)
canvas_widget = canvas.get_tk_widget()


Output: A Tkinter window displaying a matplotlib table with two rows and two columns.

This code integrates a matplotlib figure as a table within a Tkinter application, providing the ability to stylize and format the table extensively. However, editing functionality is not inherently available and would require additional coding to enable.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Using the pandastable Library

The pandastable library offers an out-of-the-box table editor that can be integrated into Tkinter apps. It’s specifically designed for displaying, editing, and analyzing pandas DataFrames within a Tkinter GUI.

Here’s an example:

import tkinter as tk
from pandastable import Table
import pandas as pd

root = tk.Tk()
frame = tk.Frame(root)
frame.pack(fill='both', expand=True)

df = pd.DataFrame({'Column 1': [1, 3], 'Column 2': [2, 4]})
pt = Table(frame, dataframe=df, showtoolbar=True, showstatusbar=True)


Output: A Tkinter frame containing an interactive table editor with dataframe editing capability.

This snippet swiftly integrates a full-featured table editor into the Tkinter application, using a pandas DataFrame as the data source. The pandastable library takes care of rendering and provides toolbars and status bars for quick DataFrame editing.


  • Method 1: Manual Spacing in Text Widget. Simple and fast for basic use. Lacks interactivity and scalability.
  • Method 2: Custom Canvas and Entry Widgets. Customizable and interactive. Requires complex widget placement and event handling.
  • Method 3: Treeview Widget. Advanced out-of-the-box features. Appearance and behavior more rigid than custom implementations.
  • Method 4: Matplotlib Tables. Attractive and stylizable. Not inherently editable and requires additional code for interaction.
  • Method 5: Pandastable library. Convenient with extensive features for DataFrame editing. Relies on external library and pandas.