++ed by:
3 non-PAUSE users
Author image kmx
and 1 contributors


Win32::GUI::UserGuide::Concepts - General Concepts


Packages in Win32::GUI can be divided into three main categories: Windows, Controls and Resources; but a big part of the core of this module is in the Win32::GUI package. All the generic functions are defined there, and all the components of the user interface inherit from it, so that most of the functions that refer to windows (eg. Show, Hide, Height, Enable, and so on) apply to every object and can be used as their methods:


Some other functions (like for example GetCursorPos) aren't applicable to an object, and they require a fully qualified call including the package name:

    ($x, $y) = Win32::GUI::GetCursorPos();

Windows are the well known windows that you see on your screen; your script will probably generate one or more window that contain your user interface; this content is usually made up of Controls (eg. labels, buttons, input fields and so on). They can also be considered as child windows, and, as said, they are all inherited from the Win32::GUI package.

Resources are of a different category: they build up, so to say, the graphical Windows toolkit (usually referred to as GDI, Graphics Device Interface); you'll find there fonts, brushes, bitmaps, icons, cursors and so on. These objects are generally associated with your windows and controls (eg. you can set a windows or controls font); some of them, like pens and brushes, are used instead with the DC package, which implement the drawing primitives.

There are then some packages that simply don't fit into the three categories above, because their use goes beyond the simple user interface: this is the case with Class and the mentioned DC.


You create an object using its constructor, which is usally of the form:

    $Object = new Win32::GUI::<something>( <options> );

where <something> is the class of the object you want to create (eg. Window, Menu, Font, etc.) and <options> are the characteristics of your object. Once you have the $Object variable, you can invoke methods on it:


A different approach is possible with Controls. Usually, once you created your $Window object, you will add controls in it with this construct:

    $Window->AddButton( <options> );

This function will return a $Button object as you may expect, but you don't need to store it in a variable: Win32::GUI will use the very special -name option to store the object reference in the window as a named key (or sub-object):

    $Window->AddButton( -name => "Button1" );
    # or

These sub-objects are really hash keys, but for your convenience are also AUTOLOAD'ed as if they were subroutines (see AutoLoader for details); this can introduce some confusion if you name an object with the same name as a Win32::GUI function.

    $Window->AddButton( -name => "Show" );

This syntax will not work because "Show" is already defined as a method of your $Window object. The advice is to use a different name for your object, but if you really can't renounce to it, you can still use the safer syntax:


It is of course always possible, if you don't mind using too much variables, to use the less elegant form:

    $Button1 = $Window->AddButton( ... );


The definition of an object is made up of options, which are pretty much like an associative array; option names are always lowercase and preceded by a dash (-), while their value vary (can be strings, numbers, objects or array references).

A number of options is common to any window (and control), and they're documented in Common options; furthermore, different objects have different specific options, documented in the single packages reference.

The most important option for a window is -name; this defines the name of the object in its container (as explained above) and the name used in the Events naming convention:

    $Window->AddButton( -name => "Button1" );
    sub Button1_Click { print "ouch!\n"; }

An example of using a complete set of options:

    $Window = new Win32::GUI::Window(
        -name   => "Window",
        -title  => "Perl Window Example",
        -left   => 100,  
        -top    => 100,
        -width  => 500, 
        -height => 400,         
        -menu   => $Menu,

The dialog phase

After creating your windows and done all the needed initialization processes, you may probably want your script to present the user with a window and await for his actions; in other words, you want to interact with the user. This is done in the dialog phase.

To enter the dialog phase simply call this instruction:


or better yet, if you want to check the exit code of your GUI program:

    $exitcode = Win32::GUI::Dialog();

When the script encounter this instruction, its execution halts and the user has the ability to interact with what's on the screen. Since windows are by default created in an invisible state, you may probably call before something like:


if your program is supposed to start with $Window as its entry point.

While in the dialog phase, user's actions will generate Events as needed. This phase ends when an event returns -1 or you press Cancel in response to a program error (see below for more details); when it ends, the control returns to the main body of your script (at the line after the one with the Win32::GUI::Dialog call) and it can go on normally.


Events are Perl subs that are called in response to an event that occurred in the user interface, usually generated by an action of the user. For example, a button has a Click event that is called when the user pushes it. The naming convention for events follows the Microsoft Visual Basic's one; its form is:


(note there's an underscore in between), where OBJECTNAME is the value of the -name option used when creating the object, and Eventname is the event name, eg. Click. So if you have a button named Button1, your Click event will be defined as follows:

    sub Button1_Click {
        # ...do something...

The code inside will be executed when Button1 gets pressed.

Win32::GUI also interprets the value returned by the sub; unless otherwise documented in the event description, the meaning of the return value is:

  • 1 (one, or a true value)

    the script proceeds normally and the event is passed to the underlying default event processor.

  • 0 (zero)

    the dialog phase continues but the event is not passed to the default event processor (what this means effectively depends on the event).

  • -1 (minus one)

    the dialog phase ends, and control returns to the main body of your script. You will most probably use this to end your program:

        sub Window_Terminate {
            return -1;

The behaviour of the default event processor depends on the control and the event; in case of doubt, is always a good idea to end your event with an explicit:

    return 1;

Finally, you should note that events are really evaluated (as if they were called with eval()), so that errors are trapped, and a message box is shown. This box reports the offending event name on the title bar, the error message in its body and has OK and Cancel buttons. If you press OK, Win32::GUI will ignore the error and go on with the dialog (the event, of course, doesn't take place); if you press Cancel instead the dialog will end (with return code -1). This means that for example if you define an event like:

    sub Button1_Click {

your script will not die immediately at the click of a button, but the message box will appear, reporting for example "Died at script.pl line 73".


In its widest acception, windows include what you normally call a window (sometimes referred to as a "top level window"), controls (sometimes referred to as "child windows") and even Non-owned windows (not created by Win32::GUI).

Real (top level) windows are the container of your user interface; Win32::GUI defines two packages, Window and DialogBox. By default, a Window has a title bar, the usual minimize/maximize/close buttons, a system menu (the button on the top left corner) and resizable borders. A DialogBox is very similar, except that by default it cannot be resized and it doesn't have the minimize and maximize buttons. The main difference between the two packages is in the dialog phase; DialogBox intercepts the tab and arrow keys to switch between controls, the use of Return and Esc for the Ok and Cancel button and accelerators, while Window not.


Also known as "widgets" , these represent the content of your windows, and includes almost all the controls provided by Windows:



Non-owned windows

Every window, even windows not created by your Perl script, can be referenced by Win32::GUI; all you need to know is its "handle", a numerical value that identifies that window. Many functions in the Win32::GUI package return such handles, as for example:

    $First = Win32::GUI::GetForegroundWindow();

This value can then be passed to any function that requires a window object; but of course, not being an object, you can't call it as a method:

    Win32::GUI::Hide($First); # correct
    $First->Hide();           # wrong

Should you need to know the numerical handle of a window created by Win32::GUI, it is stored in its -handle key (this is the value that almost all function really use):

    print "Window handle is $Window->{-handle} \n";


Wherever you need to express a color, there are two possibilities:


Use a numeric value that contains red, green and blue components (that's the form Windows uses); expressing this form in hexadecimal, components are reversed with respect to the traditional (RGB) order:


Each components range is 0 to 0xFF, or 255; a value of 0, 0, 0 (0x000000) represents black, while a value of 255, 255, 255 (0xFFFFFF) represents white. The following are all valid color definitions in hexadecimal and decimal format (for practical reasons, you would probably prefer the hexadecimal notation):

    $color = 0xFF0000;  # blue
    $color = 16711680;  # blue
    $color = 255 << 16; # blue
    $color = 0x00FF00;  # green
    $color = 65280;     # green
    $color = 0x80FFFF;  # pale yellow
    $color = 8454143;   # pale yellow

Use a reference to a list with 3 values that express the red, green and blue components as above:

    [ R, G, B ]

Note that this is NOT a plain list (since a color is usually one parameter in a list of parameters to a function, it wouldn't make much sense); so the following forms are valid:

    [ 0, 0, 0 ]
    [ 255, 255, 255]
    [ 0x80, 0xFF, 0xFF ]


Documentation for Win32::GUI v1.14 created 01 Jun 2017

This document is autogenerated by the build process. Edits made here will be lost. Edit docs/GUI/UserGuide/Concepts.pod instead.


Homepage: http://perl-win32-gui.sourceforge.net/.

For further support join the users mailing list from the website at http://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/perl-win32-gui-users. There is a searchable list archive at http://sourceforge.net/p/perl-win32-gui/mailman/perl-win32-gui-users/.


Copyright (c) 1997..2017 Aldo Calpini. All rights reserved.

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.