Updating canvas instructions declared in Python

Fri 10 October 2014

Continuing the theme of my last few posts, a common problem for new kivy users is creating canvas instructions that follow their parent widgets. For instance, here’s some code for a custom widget that tries to draw a red rectangle in its upper-right corner - this is fairly standard kivy code to draw directly on the widget canvas, and is documented here.

from kivy.uix.widget import Widget
from kivy.graphics import Rectangle, Color

class CornerRectangleWidget(Widget)
    def __init__(self, **kwargs):
        super(CornerRectangleWidget, self).__init__(**kwargs)

        with self.canvas:
            Color(1, 0, 0, 1)  # set the colour to red
            self.rect = Rectangle(pos=self.center,
                                  size=(self.width/2.,
                                        self.height/2.))

This looks like it will create a red rectangle, whose length is half the parent size in both directions, and whose position is the parent centre.

The surprise is that this is actually not what happens. Instead, the rectangle is always positioned at (50, 50) with size (50, 50), regardless of where the widget appears.

The reason for this is that these values really are based on the pos and size of the widget at the point where the canvas code was run; all widgets have a default position of (0, 0) and size of (100, 100), and this will not necessarily be updated (for instance by a parent layout class) until after their __init__ is run. However, the Rectangle properties receive only these initial values, and don’t know about the new position of the widget.

The solution is to simply hook into kivy’s event system to update the rectangle pos and size ourselves whenever the widget changes:

from kivy.uix.widget import Widget
from kivy.graphics import Rectangle, Color

class CornerRectangleWidget(Widget)
    def __init__(self, **kwargs):
        super(CornerRectangleWidget, self).__init__(**kwargs)

        with self.canvas:
            Color(1, 0, 0, 1)  # set the colour to red
            self.rect = Rectangle(pos=self.center,
                                  size=(self.width/2.,
                                        self.height/2.))

        self.bind(pos=self.update_rect,
                  size=self.update_rect)

    def update_rect(self, *args):
        self.rect.pos = self.pos
        self.rect.size = self.size

Now whenever the widget pos or size changes, our new method is called and the rectangle resized or repositioned as necessary. It will always track the widget’s upper right corner, so we get the visual effect we were originally looking for.

Of course, an even better solution (where possible) is to use kv language:

<CornerRectangleWidget@Widget>
    canvas:
        Color:
           rgba: 1, 0, 0, 1
        Rectangle:
           pos: self.center
           size: self.width / 2., self.height / 2.

This is shorter, simpler and clearer. We don’t need to manually set up the binding because kv automatically detects that we referred to properties of the parent widget and creates it automatically - something that isn’t really possible in python. This is one reason that we recommend using kv language wherever possible.

Category: kivy Tagged: kivy python canvas instructions