The Anvil User Interface is made up of components. Even Forms are a special kind of component.
You control the content, appearance and behaviour of your components by setting their Properties. You can set these properties while you’re building your app using the Properties Panel. You can also set them while the app is running using Python code.
You can make components interactive using Events. These are Python functions that run when something happens - when the user clicks on the component, or enters text, or when the component appears on the screen for the first time.
Many components can contain other components - these are called ‘containers’. Containers can contain other containers, allowing nested structures. This is how Anvil User Interfaces get their structure.
Building UIs in Anvil consists of combining components, properties, events and containers to get the result you want. Let’s look at each concept in more detail.
Components are the things you add to your Form to build your UI. These include Buttons, Labels, TextBoxes and similar widgets.
The entire list of Anvil components is given in this section of the docs. The categories are:
- Basic Components - things like Labels, Links and Images.
- Containers - these group components together and define where they sit on the page.
- RepeatingPanels - these repeat the same group of components for all items in a given list.
- Forms - these are special containers that appear in the App Browser and can and play the role of a ‘page’ in Anvil.
- Data Grids - these are an easy and powerful way to create a paginated table.
- Plots - these display data using Plotly.
- Maps - Google Maps in Python.
- Canvas - these provide area where you can draw graphics, like an HTML canvas but in Python.
When you design a Form in the Form editor, you place components on the Form by dragging and dropping them. Anvil stores that layout in the configuration for your app, and knows to create those components at runtime when that particular Form is displayed.
Every component is available in Python as an attribute of the Form object. So when you add a Button to your
Form in the designer and give it the name
you can refer to it within your code as
class Form1(Form1Template): # .. Somewhere inside Form1 ... self.button_1.text = "Click me"
However, this isn’t the only way to do it. Components are just Python classes, so you can construct new instances entirely in code.
class Form1(Form1Template): # .. Somewhere inside Form1 ... button_1 = Button()
This Button exists in Python, but it has not been added to the Form yet - we’ll show you how in the Containers section.
First we’ll cover more about what you can do with components - properties and events.
Components have properties that determine how they look and how they behave. Properties can be modified in the Anvil Editor using the Properties Panel (on the right below the Toolbox):
You can adjust a component’s appearance by setting a property:
self.button_1.text = "Click me"
You can also read data from a component by reading properties (for example the
text property of a
TextBox component contains whatever text the user has entered in the box).
latest_user_input = self.text_box_1.text
The properties of all Anvil’s built-in components can be found in the API Reference.
If you’re creating components in code, you can pass in initial values for the properties when you create the component, for example
Every component also has a property called
tag, which is for you to store any extra data you like. By default, it’s an empty object that you can store attributes on:
self.my_textbox.tag.foo = "bar"
Components can also raise events. For example, when a Button is clicked, it raises the
You can see what events a component raises in the visual designer. This example is for a Button component:
To define what to do when an event is raised, you can enter a method name in the box. This is called ‘binding’ a method to an event. In the example above, the
click event has the
handle_click method bound to it.
The methods you bind must belong to the Form that the component is on. If the Button is in
Form1 and it has
handle_click bound to it, then your
Form1 code must look like this:
class Form1(Form1Template): # ... def handle_click(self, **event_args): # Any code you write here will run when the button is clicked
There’s a shortcut to create event handlers: you can click on the blue arrows next to the event to get a click handler automatically defined for you in code:
For a full list of what events each component raises, see the API Reference.
Every event handler has
**event_args as a parameter. This contains useful data about the event. (The
up any extra keyword arguments that come with the event, and puts them all in a dict called
event_args always contains:
event_name, for example ‘click’
sender, the Python object that triggered the event. For example, a
clickevent triggered by a Link will have the Link object as the
sender. You could use this to style the Link differently to show that it has been followed.
event_args may be present depending on the event, for example the precise mouse position. To discover what
is available in
**event_args for a particular event, look at the API Reference.
print(event_args) at the top of the event handler, run your app and take a look at the Output Panel.
Always use an
**event_args if you’re defining your own event, in case any new arguments get added that you need to soak up.
Setting event handlers in code
As well as setting event handlers using the Editor as described above, you can set event handlers in code. This allows you to change the behaviour of your app while it is running.
You can set event handlers in code by calling
set_event_handler(event_name, fn) on any component.
the name of the event that’s displayed in the Properties Panel - for example,
you’re unsure of the
event_name, look at the API Reference.
def handle_click(**event_args): alert("The button got clicked!") self.button_1.set_event_handler('click', handle_click)
Raising events from code
You can raise an event on any component by calling the
Any extra keyword parameters to
raise_event() get passed to the event handler function. The
sender argument will be
the component on which
raise_event() was called.
You can raise an event on all children on a container using
raise_event_on_children; see Containers for more detail.
You’re not limited to the events in the Properties Panel. You can raise a custom event on any component using any
event name beginning with
# Set a custom event handler ... self.button_1.set_event_handler('x-foo', self.handle_foo) # ... and raise the event somewhere else. # This will call self.handle_foo # with self.button_1 as the `sender` argument. self.button_1.raise_event('x-foo')
x-to avoid conflicting with any built-in event names.
Some actions can only be performed after a component is added to the web page in the browser. For example, a
Canvas component cannot discover the size of its drawing area until it is added to the page – so a Form cannot usefully draw on a
Canvas during its
__init__ function. Instead, the drawing code must run when the Form is added to the page.
To help handle these situations, all components have a
hide event, which trigger when the component is added to, or removed from, the page.
showevent does not necessarily mean the component is visible to the eye - a component may be invisible, but its
showevent still fires when it is added to the page. To be precise, these events trigger after the component is added to the browser’s HTML DOM.
hide propagate across containers: If a component’s container is added to the page, it too is added to the page. A container’s
hide event is raised after all its children.
Some components can contain other components. We call these containers, and they all inherit from the
Container class. (All Forms are also containers.)
For a full list of container components, see Components: Containers.
You can add a component to a container in Python by calling the container’s
You can call a container’s
get_components() method to get a list of all the components that have been added to it.
Parents and children
You can look up a component’s container with the
.parent attribute. If a component has not yet been added to a container, its
.parent attribute is
print(btn.parent) # prints "<anvil.XYPanel object>" for a button inside an XY Panel
Try to avoid using multiple
.parent attributes chained together to go up the component hierarchy.
You will probably find your code is more robust if you use
get_open_form() to get a reference to the
currently-open Form and find the component you’re looking for from there.
To remove a component from a container, call the component’s
To remove all components from a container, call the container’s
Raising an event on all children
To raise an event on all components in a container, call the
This takes exactly the same parameters as
component.raise_event, and is subject to the same constraints on event names.
It is especially useful when you want to signal to all children of a RepeatingPanel without already having explicit references to those children.
Container Properties are properties that control the relationship between a component and the container it is in; the argument names and their meanings depend on the type of container. They are visible in the Properties Panel in the Anvil Editor. They can also be passed as keyword arguments to
For example, XYPanels have
width container properties, which determine the position of the component. You can specify them in the designer:
Or you can pass them as keyword arguments when you call
add_component() in your code:
btn = Button(text="Click me") self.xy_panel_1.add_component(btn, x=100, y=100)
For more information on the container properties available for each container type, consult the Anvil API Reference.
Read the full documentation on Data Bindings for more detail about Data Bindings and when you might find them useful.
Data Bindings are a tidy way to define a relationship between a component’s property and some underlying data - they associate a property of a component with a single Python expression. The relationship is defined in one place so you don’t need to re-write the code in many different parts of your app.
Data Bindings are be defined in the Properties Panel of the Anvil Editor. You select a property from the Dropdown and write a Python expression in the box.
selfhere refers to the Form that this component is on
The Python expression can use any attribute or method of the Form that the component is on. The Form is available as
self - you
can use anything that looks like
The Data Binding is evaluated when any of these things happen:
self.init_components(**properties)gets called in the
A component can have any number of Data Bindings (one for each of its properties).