5 Best Ways to Put a Border Around a Frame in Python Tkinter

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: When designing GUI applications with Python’s Tkinter library, it’s often desired to visually delineate sections of the interface. Placing a border around a Tkinter frame is a common task for this. For example, given a simple Tk() root window, the goal is to insert a Frame widget with a clearly defined border for better UI organization.

Method 1: Using the Frame Widget’s Borderwidth and Relief Attributes

This method involves configuring a Tkinter Frame widget to display a border by setting the borderwidth parameter and the relief parameter. The borderwidth specifies the border’s width in pixels, while the relief attribute dictates the style of the border (e.g., ‘raised’, ‘sunken’, ‘flat’, ‘ridge’, ‘solid’, or ‘groove’).

Here’s an example:

import tkinter as tk

root = tk.Tk()
frame = tk.Frame(root, borderwidth=5, relief="ridge")
frame.pack(padx=10, pady=10)
root.mainloop()

Output: A window with a frame having a border 5 pixels wide with a “ridge” effect.

In this snippet, a Frame widget is created with a 5-pixel-wide ‘ridge’ border. The pack() geometry manager is used with padding to position the frame inside the root window, resulting in the frame being distinctly outlined.

Method 2: Adding a Background Color to Emphasize the Border

A border-like effect can also be achieved by using a background color for the frame and placing it on top of another frame with a contrasting background. This technique can create a visual separation without using traditional borders and provides a modern, flat UI look.

Here’s an example:

import tkinter as tk

root = tk.Tk()
outer_frame = tk.Frame(root, background="black")
outer_frame.pack(padx=5, pady=5)
inner_frame = tk.Frame(outer_frame, background="white")
inner_frame.pack(padx=10, pady=10)
root.mainloop()

Output: A window showing a white frame surrounded by a black border created by the outer frame’s background.

This code creates two frames; the outer frame has a black background, functioning as a border, and the inner frame is white. Packing the inner frame with padding inside the outer frame emphasizes the border effect.

Method 3: Crafting a Custom Border with Canvas

The Canvas widget allows for more intricate and custom borders. By drawing shapes such as rectangles, you can simulate borders around a frame. This method provides significant flexibility, as you can create borders of different shapes and styles.

Here’s an example:

import tkinter as tk

root = tk.Tk()
canvas = tk.Canvas(root, height=200, width=200)
canvas.pack()

# Draw a rectangle on the Canvas that acts as a border
canvas.create_rectangle(50, 50, 150, 150, outline="blue", width=5)
root.mainloop()

Output: A window containing a canvas with a blue rectangular border drawn inside it.

Here, a Canvas widget is added, and a rectangle is drawn within it, serving as a border. The rectangle’s outline color and width can be adjusted to resemble various border styles.

Method 4: Utilizing Styles with ttk.Frame

With Tkinter’s themed widgets (ttk), you can apply preconfigured styles or create custom ones to add borders to ttk.Frame widgets. This approach grants a modern look and the advantage of consistency across various operating systems.

Here’s an example:

import tkinter as tk
from tkinter import ttk

root = tk.Tk()
style = ttk.Style()
style.configure("Custom.TFrame", borderwidth=5, relief="groove")

frame = ttk.Frame(root, style="Custom.TFrame")
frame.pack(padx=10, pady=10)
root.mainloop()

Output: A window with a ttk.Frame having a customized border with a “groove” style.

The code snippet defines a custom style named “Custom.TFrame” for ttk.Frame widgets, specifying the borderwidth and relief. The frame is then packed with padding to make the border stand out.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Using LabelFrame for Built-In Borders

The LabelFrame widget inherently has a border and optional label, making it a quick way to add a bordered section without manual configurations.

Here’s an example:

import tkinter as tk

root = tk.Tk()
labelframe = tk.LabelFrame(root, text="This is a LabelFrame")
labelframe.pack(padx=10, pady=10)
root.mainloop()

Output: A window with a bordered frame and a caption that reads “This is a LabelFrame”.

This method is straightforward; it uses LabelFrame which automatically provides a framed area with the option to include a label, serving both as a title and a border.

Summary/Discussion

  • Method 1: Using Frame Widget’s Borderwidth and Relief Attributes. Offers simplicity and built-in styling options. Limited to basic relief styles.
  • Method 2: Adding a Background Color for Border Effect. Enables the creation of modern, flat UI designs. Not a true border but a simulation through contrasting backgrounds;
  • Method 3: Crafting a Custom Border with Canvas. Highly flexible and creative, allowing for custom-shaped borders. Requires more code and canvas management.
  • Method 4: Utilizing Styles with ttk.Frame. Provides modern and consistent styling across different operation systems. May require familiarity with ttk styles.
  • Bonus Method 5: Using LabelFrame for Built-In Borders. Quick and easy with no need for explicit border configuration. Less customizable than other methods.