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wxPython Project Phoenix Migration Guide

wxPython’s Project Phoenix is a new incarnation of the wxPython toolkit in which everything that existed before will be cast into the flames in the hopes that that which emerges from the ashes will be better, brighter, stronger and faster than before. For more details about why and how, please see the ProjectPhoenix pages in the wiki.

This document will describe some of the incompatibilities that programmers will run into when migrating code from Classic wxPython to the Phoenix. For some types of changes there won’t be any attempt to document the nitty gritty details of the differences, but rather the general patterns of the changes will be documented. Most programmers should then be able to work out the details for themselves.

Please note that throughout this document and elsewhere in the project, as well as community discussions and such, you may see the term “Classic” used by itself. This refers to the original implementation of wxPython. Likewise, a standalone “Phoenix” or “Project Phoenix” will generally refer to this new implementation of wxPython.

Version Numbers

The version numbers for wxPython are no longer kept in sync with the wxWidgets version number. In the past the common version number was used to indicate exactly which version of wxWidgets should be used for the wxPython build. Now wxWidgets is a git submodule, and the linked version is included in the wxPython source tarball, so there is no longer any need to use the matching version numbers to implicitly specify the version of the wxWidgets source to use.

This means that wxPython can go back to a 3-component version number and follow the common conventions used by 99% of the other software projects out there. The 3 components are commonly called MAJOR, MINOR and RELEASE. Since wxPython Phoenix is a major upgrade over wxPython Classic then we will start out with a new MAJOR version number to help communicate that this isn’t just a little update from previous releases.

Additional flags will be appended to the version number in a manner that is compliant with Python’s PEP-440. This includes syntax for alpha, beta, release candidate releases, post-release builds, development snapshots, etc. See buildtools/ in the Phoenix source tree for more details.

Overloaded Functions

In order to support more than one of the versions of an overloaded C++ function or class method in Classic wxPython, we had to rename all but one of them. For example, for the C++ wxWindow::SetSize method we have SetSize, SetDimensions, SetRect and SetSizeWH. One of the features of the new tools used for Project Phoenix is that we no longer need to do that and instead we can have just one function or method in the Python API and the proper version of the C++ function or method is chosen at runtime based on the number and types of parameters passed to the function. So in most cases the renamed versions of the overloaded functions have been removed and you can call the function with the same name as the C++ API.

This also includes the default constructor for all widget classes, used for the 2-phase create. Previously they were renamed to be the class name with “Pre” prepended to it. For example, wx.PreWindow(), wx.PreFrame(), etc. Now in the Phoenix build of wxPython that is no longer necessary and you can just call the class with no parameters like normal.

For those renamed items that are more commonly used in the old Classic wxPython I’ll add some aliases that will issue a DeprecationWarning for the first release or two after we switch over to the Phoenix version of the code, and then remove them in a later release.

For a (relatively comprehensive) list of classes, functions and methods which need modification while porting your code from Classic to Phoenix, please see the Classic vs. Phoenix document.

FindWindow Methods

One instance of undoing the renames for overloading done in Classic that may be not make as much sense as the others is the wx.Window.FindWindow methods. This is because there are new methods in Phoenix that have the same names as some of the renames in Classic, so we can’t just leave a deprecated alias in place that will direct the programmer to use the overloaded version of the method instead of the renamed version.

So we now have the following FindWindow-related methods and static methods available in the wx.Window class:

These are non-static and do a recursive search in self:

wx.Window.FindWindow(self, id)
wx.Window.FindWindow(self, name)

These are staticmethods that either search all windows in the application, or the subtree rooted at parent if it is given:

wx.Window.FindWindowById(id, parent=None)
wx.Window.FindWindowByLabel(label, parent=None)
wx.Window.FindWindowByName(name, parent=None)

And these extra module-level helper functions added in Classic are still available in Phoenix:

wx.FindWindowById(id, parent=None)
wx.FindWindowByLabel(label, parent=None)
wx.FindWindowByName(name, parent=None)

Static Methods

In the distant past when SWIG was generating wrapper code for C++ static methods it would create a standalone function named ClassName_MethodName for it. When Python added support for static methods then SWIG was able to use that to make a real staticmethod named ClassName.MethodName, but it still generated the standalone function named with the underscore, for compatibility. That underscore version of the static methods is now gone, and you will get an AttributeError in existing code that is using them. To fix the problem simply change the underscore to a dot, for example you should change this:

c = wx.SystemSettings_GetColour(wx.SYS_COLOUR_MENUTEXT)

to this:

c = wx.SystemSettings.GetColour(wx.SYS_COLOUR_MENUTEXT)

You can also make this change in your existing code that is using pre-Phoenix versions of wxPython, in order to help you prepare for the transition.

Unicode and Auto-Converting Strings

Starting with the wxPython 2.9 release series, there are no longer separate ansi/Unicode builds of wxPython. All wxPython builds are now essentially the same as the old Unicode builds. This means that all string objects (in Python 2.7) or bytes objects (Python 3+) passed to wx API functions or methods are converted to Unicode before calling the C++ function or method. By default Classic wxPython would use the encoding specified by the locale that was current at the time of the import of the wx module.

However using the default locale could sometimes cause issues because it meant that slightly different encodings could be used on different platforms, even in the same locale, or the program could end up using an encoding in a different locale that the developer has not tested their code with.

Project Phoenix takes this Unicode simplification one step further by stipulating that only the utf-8 encoding will be used for auto-converting string/bytes objects to the Unicode objects that will be passed on to the wx APIs. If you need to deal with text using a different encoding then you will need to convert it to Unicode yourself before passing the text to the wx API. For the most part this should not be much of a problem for well written programs that support Unicode because they will typically only convert to/from Unicode when reading/writing text to a file or database, and will use Unicode objects throughout the rest of the code. The common exception to this is that string-literals are often used in the code for specifying labels, etc. for UI elements. If your text for the string literals in your code are all ascii or utf-8 then you should not need to make any changes at all. If you have literals with some other encoding then you’ll need to deal with them one way or another, either change the encoding of your source file to utf-8, or convert the literals from your encoding to Unicode before passing the text to the wx API.

In Python 3.x, where strings are already Unicode objects, most of the above confusion goes away, however if you have bytes objects then the same rules of auto-converting only from utf-8 will still apply.

Font, Pen, and Brush Styles

The following aliases are currently added for backwards compatibility, but will be removed in a future release. You should migrate any code that is using the old names to use the new ones instead:




wx.DOT         = wx.PENSTYLE_DOT


wx.PyDeadObjectError –> RuntimeError

Classic wxPython tracks when the C++ part of some types of objects (pretty much just window types) is destroyed and then replaces the proxy object’s class with one that raises a wx.PyDeadObjectError exception. SIP takes care of that for us now in a much better way, so that custom hack is no longer present in Phoenix, however a RuntimeError is the exception that is raised now. The wx.Window class has a __nonzero__ method that tests if the C++ object has been deleted, so you can still test the window with an if or other conditional statement to see if it is safe to use, like this:

if someWindow:

wx.PyAssertionError –> wx.wxAssertionError

This is the exception raised when one of the wxASSERT (or similar) statements in the wx C++ code fails. Since it is a wxWidgets assertion and not a wxPython assertion the name was changed to make that a little more clear. A compatibility alias exists so using wx.PyAssertionError will still work, but you should migrate those uses to wx.wxAssertionError if possible.

The ‘wx’ namespace and submodules reorganized

Some reorganization of what classes and functions goes in which internal wx extension module has been done. In Classic the organization of the extension modules was somewhat haphazard and chaotic. For example there were 5 separate modules whose contents were loaded into the main “wx” package namespace and several others that needed to be imported separately. However since there was not much organization of the core the C++ wxadv and wxhtml DLLs would need to be distributed with any applications built with a bundling tool even if the application did not use any of those classes.

For Phoenix the location of the wrapper code for the classes and functions will attempt to follow the same organization that wxWidgets uses for putting those same classes and functions into DLLs or shared libraries. This means that some things that were formerly in the core wx package namespace are no longer there. They will have to be used by importing a wx submodule. Most of them will be in the wx.adv module. One nice advantage of doing this is that if your application is not using any of these lesser used classes then you will not have to bundle the new modules (nor the associated wx DLLs) with your application when you use py2exe or other executable builder. See the Classic vs. Phoenix document for details.


In wx.ListItem and wx.ListEvent the "m_" properties are no longer public. Instead use the associated getter/setter methods or the auto-generated properties that are using them.


The GetItemData and SetItemData now behave just like GetItemPyData and SetItemPyData did in Classic wxPython. In other words, instead of needing to create and use instances of wx.TreeItemData to associate Python data objects with tree items, you just use the Python objects directly. It will also work when passing the data objects directly to the AppendItem, InsertItem, etc. methods. (If anybody was actually using the wx.TreeItemData objects directly before and are unable to adapt then please let Robin know.) The [G|S]etItemPyData members still exist, but are now deprecated aliases for [G|S]etItemData.


Phoenix is now providing both wx.DragImage and wx.GenericDragImage classes. Classic wxPython only provided wx.DragImage, but it was actually using wx.GenericDragImage internally for all platforms. wx.DragImage will now be a native implementation on Windows, and will still be the generic version where a native implementation is not available. If you would rather use the generic implementation on Windows too then switch to using the wx.GenericDragImage class name.

2-Phase Create

In Classic wxPython we had to do some fancy footwork to make use of wxWidget’s 2-Phase Create scheme for creating instances of a C++ widget class, but delaying the creation of the UI object until later. (This is needed for things like setting extended style flags that can not be set after creation, or with class factories like XRC.) The old trickery should no longer be needed, and instead you can write code that is much more sane. For example, instead of Classic code like this:

class MyDialog(wx.Dialog):
    def __init__(self, parent, ID, title):
        pre = wx.PreDialog()
        pre.Create(parent, ID, title)
        self.PostCreate(pre)                           # 4

In Phoenix that should now be done like this:

class MyDialog(wx.Dialog):
    def __init__(self, parent, ID, title):
        wx.Dialog.__init__(self)                       # 1
        self.SetExtraStyle(wx.FRAME_EX_CONTEXTHELP)    # 2
        self.Create(parent, ID, title)                 # 3

Notice that we are (#1) calling the base class __init__ like usual, but passing no parameters so the default C++ constructor will be invoked. Next (#2, #3) we use self instead of pre because self is now a legitimate instance of wx.Dialog, and (#4) there is no longer any need to call PostCreate to do its black magic for us because there is no longer a rogue instance that needs to be transplanted into self.

wx.Image and Python Buffer Objects

wx.Image is now using the new buffer APIs for the constructors and methods which accept any object supporting the buffer protocol. These are methods which allow you to set the raw RGB or Alpha data in the image in one step. As a consequence of using the new APIs the objects passed must also implement the new buffer interface in order to be compatible.

GetData and GetAlpha now return a copy of the image data as a bytearray object instead of a string object. This means that since bytearrays are mutable you can do things like make changes to the data and then use it in the SetData of another image.

GetDataBuffer and GetAlphaBuffer now return memoryview objects, which allow direct access to the RGB and Alpha buffers inside the image. Just as in Classic you should not use those memoryview buffers after the wx.Image has been destroyed. Using the returned memoryview object you can manipulate the RGB or Alpha data inside the wx.Image without needing to make a copy of the data.

Just as in Classic the SetDataBuffer and SetAlphaBuffer methods allow you to tell the wx.Image to use memory buffers in other objects (such as a numpy array) as its RGB or Alpha data, as long as the other object supports the new buffer protocol.


We don’t (yet) have an easy way to support different APIs per platform in the wx class constructors, so wx.DropSource (which optionally takes parameters that should be a wx.Icon on wxGTK or a wx.Cursor on the other platforms) has been changed to not accept the cursor/icon in the constructors. Instead you’ll have to call either SetCursor or SetIcon depending on the platform.

wx.DataObject and derived classes

The wx.DataObject and wx.DataObjectSimple classes can now be subclassed in Python. wx.DataObject will let you provide complex multi-format data objects that do not need to copy the data until one of the formats is requested from the clipboard or a DnD operation. wx.DataObjectSimple is a simplification that only deals with one data format, (although multiple objects can still be provided with wx.DataObjectComposite.)

Python buffer objects are used for transferring data to/from the clipboard or DnD partner. Anything that supports the buffer protocol can be used for setting or providing data, and a memoryview object is created for the APIs where the data object should fetch from or copy to a specific memory location.

Here is a simple example:

class MyDataObject(wx.DataObjectSimple):
    def __init__(self, value=''):
        self.SetFormat(wx.DataFormat("my data format"))
        self.myData = bytes(value)

    def GetDataSize(self):
        return len(self.myData)

    def GetDataHere(self, buf):
        # copy our local data value to buf
        assert isinstance(buf, memoryview)
        buf[:] = self.myData
        return True

    def SetData(self, buf):
        # copy from buf to our local data value
        assert isinstance(buf, memoryview)
        self.myData = buf.tobytes()
        return True

Multiple Inheritance

The SIP tool currently does not support having more than one wrapped C++ class as the base classes of a Python class. In most cases this is not a problem because in wxPython you’re more likely to use multiple inheritance with simple mix-in classes or similar constructs than needing to inherit from more than one wrapped C++ class.

However there is at least one use case where that can be a problem, and that is with the ComboCtrl’s wx.ComboPopup class. In wxWidgets and also in Classic you’re encouraged to use wx.ComboPopup as a mix-in class combined with the widget class that is going to be your popup window for the wx.ComboCtrl. This can not currently be done with Phoenix in the same way, but you can also use a widget class with a wx.ComboPopup in a has-a relationship rather than an is-a relationship. See samples/combo/ for an example.


The “LoadOnFoo” methods of the XmlResource class were renamed overloads of the corresponding “LoadFoo” methods. Since we no longer need to rename overloaded methods the “LoadOn” version has been removed and you should just use the “LoadFoo” version instead. These methods are used to load some XRC content onto an existing window, such as a wx.Frame, instead of creating a new wx.Frame for the content.

wx.PyEvent and wx.PyCommandEvent

Unlike most other wx.Py* classes these two still exist in Phoenix, and are still the base classes that you should use when creating your own custom event classes. For the most part they work just like they did in Classic, and they take care of ensuring that any Python attributes that you assign to instances of the class will still be there when the event is delivered to an event handler. There is one main difference from Classic however, and that is that those attributes are now stored in a dictionary object owned by the C++ instance, instead of being stored directly in the Python instance’s dictionary. In most cases this won’t matter to you at all, but if your derived class has a __getattr__ method (or __setattr__, or __delattr__) then you will need to get the attributes from that other dictionary instead. You can get a reference to that dictionary using _getAttrDict(). For example:

def __getattr__(self, name):
    d = self._getAttrDict()
    if name in d:
        return d[name]
    return doSomethingElse(name)


Since it is usually not a good idea to make arbitrary top-level windows be modal, (you should normally just use a wx.Dialog instead,) the wx.Frame.MakeModal method has been removed. The recommended alternative is to use the wx.WindowDisabler class instead, but if you prefer the semantics of having a method to call to turn on or off the modalness of a window then you can add a method like this to your classes to give you a way to do it:

def MakeModal(self, modal=True):
    if modal and not hasattr(self, '_disabler'):
        self._disabler = wx.WindowDisabler(self)
    if not modal and hasattr(self, '_disabler'):
        del self._disabler

The wxversion module

The wxversion module is gone, and will not be coming back. The old way of handling multi-version installs and choosing between them was a giant hack in my opinion, and I regretted doing it shortly after it was implemented. However since there wasn’t any other way that made sense at the time, and since some people were using it already, it got left in the distribution. But one of the purposes of the Phoenix project is to remove as many of the hacks and cruft from Classic as possible, so wxversion is gone.

These days there are much better ways to handle the things that the old multi-versioning and version selection features that the wxversion module provided. Since wxPython Phoenix is built by default to be self-contained and relocatable on all of the platforms, then unlike Classic there is no problem with installing it in Python virtual environments. So if you need to have multiple versions of wxPython on your system, then create a virtual environment for each project and install the version that each needs in their environments. If you have code that requires a specific version or range of versions of wxPython then define the dependency in your file or a requirements.txt file and let pip take care of the details. I’m confident that you’ll be much happier with this approach.