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A module for simplifying Maya GUI coding


mGui is a python module for simplifying GUI creation using Maya's built-in gui widgets. As such it is not a replacement for something more sophisticated, like PyQT or PySide - it's a way to make simple UI more quickly and reliably (and without the need for distributing any DLLs in older versions of Maya).

The goal is to provide the most consistent and least wordy way of creating simple GUI in Maya. Instead of this:

items = ("pCube1", "pPlane2")
window  = cmds.window()
w, margin = 400, 10
mainform = cmds.formLayout( width=w ) 
maincol = cmds.columnLayout( adj=True ) 
main_attach = [( maincol, 'top', margin ), ( maincol, 'left', margin ), ( maincol, 'right', margin )]
col_w = int( ( w - ( margin * 2 ) ) / 3 ) - 1
cmds.setParent( mainform ) 
dis_row = cmds.rowLayout( nc=3, ct3=( 'both', 'both', 'both' ), cw3=( col_w, col_w, col_w ) ) 
dis_attach = [( dis_row, 'bottom', margin ), ( dis_row, 'left', margin ), ( dis_row, 'right', margin )]
cmds.formLayout( mainform, e=True, attachForm=main_attach + dis_attach ) 
cmds.formLayout( mainform, e=True, ac=( maincol, 'bottom', margin, dis_row ) ) 
cmds.setParent( dis_row ) 
cmds.button( "Refresh", width=col_w)
cmds.text( ' ' ) 
cmds.button( "Close", width=col_w)
cmds.setParent( maincol ) 
cmds.text( " " ) 
cmds.text( "The following items don't have vertex colors:", align='left' ) 
cmds.text( " " ) 
Itemlist = cmds.textScrollList( numberOfRows=8, allowMultiSelection=True, append=items ) 
dis_row = cmds.rowLayout( nc=5, ct5=( 'both', 'both', 'both', 'both', 'both' ) ) 

you can write this:

bound = ObservableCollection("pCube1", "pPlane1")

with BindingWindow(title = 'example window') as test_window:
    with VerticalForm() as main:
        Text(label = "The following items don't have vertex colors")
        list_view = VerticalList()
        list_view.bind.collection < bind() < bound
        with HorizontalStretchForm() as buttons:
            Button('refresh', l='Refresh')
            Button('close', l='Close')             

And make adjustments like this:

main.buttons.refresh.backgroundColor = (.7, .7, .5)

Key parts

mGui.gui: object oriented gui classes

The main tool in the library is a complete wrapper set for for all of the widgets in the Maya GUI library in the module mGui.gui. These wrapper classes are assembled using a special metaclass which allows you to get and set their properties with traditional dot notation, rather than Maya's cumbersome command-based syntax. Layouts, windows and menus are treated as context managers, allowing you to write neatly nested layouts and keep your logical structure separate from the visual details. The layouts also 'know' the names of their children, so that you can access controls directly through the hierarchy of your layout: in the example above, you can acces the 'close' button as


without doing any manual management of variables.


To make it easier to manage the visual look of your layouts -- and more importantly, to keep the visuals separated cleanly from the logical structure of the code -- mgui.Styles creates style dictionaries which work very much like CSS styles in web design. Styles can be targeted at individual controls or entire classes of controls; they can be inherited and overridden for maximal flexibility.


A lot of repetitive GUI coding is simply about shuffling little bits of data around - setting the name of a button to match that of the selected item, changing the color of a field based on the state of a checkbox, and so on.

In order to simplify this process, mGui.bindings defines Bindings - classes which can get information from one place and putting it somewhere else in a structured way. Bindings can be created declaratively, rather than requiring you to manually manage the relationships. Thus

Text('example').bind.label < bind() < 'pCube1.tx'

will set the label of a text widget to the X-transform of pCube1, while

 CheckBox('vis').bind.value > bind() > 'pCube1.visibility' 

will tie the visibility of the cube to the state of the checkbox.

The module mGui.lists provides a set of pre-built collection widgets designed for use with binding. The VerticalList, HorizontalList, WrapList and ColumnList will draw items in a scrolling list view for every item in their bound collections. The itemTemplate class allows you to create a custom widget display for any incoming data type, so you can create rich UIs with inline controls, multiple lines of data, and customizable styles.


The traditional Maya formLayout command is the most powerful and flexible type of layout. Unfortunately, it's also the most awkward to use. Attaching childrent to a form requires creating long chains of argument which are tough to read and to parse.

mGui.forms provides a number of pre-built forms, which automatically attach their own children in predictable ways. The key types are:

  • HorizontalForm and VerticalForm. As the names imply, these lay out their children horizontally or vertically, each child snapped to the previous one. The form expands but the children don't move.
  • HorizontalExpandForm and VerticalExpandForm are similar to regular forms, except that the last child will expand with the form. They are commonly used to divide an area between a header and content, or between a navigation column and content.
  • HorizontalStretchForm and VerticalStretchForm will expand all their children as the overall form grows or shrink. Handy for things like maintaining evenly sized divisions in a window.
  • HorizontalThreePane and VerticalThreePane These form expect exactly three children. The first and last children are glues to the beginning and end of the form, respectively, while the middle child expands with the form. Handy for layouts with headers and footers or with tools surrounding a content pane.


Maya GUI widgets can fire callbacks, but they have several important limitations. In particular, vanilla Maya callbacks don't retain any knowledge of the widget which sent them, which obliges you to write complex code to track callbacks to their sources and understand their context.

mGui.Events introduces event delegates - classes which catch maya gui callbacks when they fire and add useful information about the widget which raised the callback. These events can be forwarded to multiple handlers, so that a single button press can move an object in your scene, highlight a button, and print a message in the help line using 3 simple functions rather than one big monster with lots of unrelated moving parts.


The directory mGui is a Python package. Simply drop a copy of it into a location that's visible to your python path. You can then import modules in the usual way.


The module mGui.gui contains most of the key components: the windows, buttons, layouts and so on (they are defined in other modules, particulary mGui.core.controls and mGui.core.layouts, but collected into the gui* module for easier access in your code. mGui.gui is safe for star imports -- as safe as it can be, anyway -- so a common idiom is

from mGui.gui import *

with Window('example') as w:
    with ColumnLayout('cl'):
        Text('msg', 'Hello World!')

The main components are named identically to their Maya.cmds counterparts except for the fact that, being classes rather than commands, they are capitalized. Thus cmds.button becomes mGui.gui.Button. cmds.window becomes mGui.gui.Window and so on.

Learm more

Check out our wiki pages. We're always looking for volunteers to help us improve our documentation!

This project is provided under the MIT License: it's free for any kind of use as long as you retain the copyright notice in mGui.__init__.