The askMulti Dialog

When called in a UI-enabled environment the Python fontforge.askMulti() method raises a modal dialog that prompts the user to answer one or more questions, potentially organized into “categories” displayed in separate tabs. It takes two parameters, title and specification.

The title parameter should be a string that will be displayed in the dialog window title bar.

The specification paramter is either a Python list or dictionary object specifying the questions. This is explained below.


There are four question types, corresponding to the single-question fontforge.askString(), fontforge.askChoices(), fontforge.openFilename(), and fontforge.saveFilename() dialog methods. Each individual question is specified as a dictionary.

All question types use the keys type, question``, tag and align. The type value specifies the type of question as outlined below.

The value corresponding to question is the label string, which is displayed before the answer field. This key must be present but the value can be None if no label is needed.

The tag is optional but either it or question must have a value. When present its value will be used as the key corresponding to this question in the result dictionary returned by the method. Otherwise the question value will be used. The tag value can be any “hashable” type—that is, any type that can serve as a key in a Python dictionary.

The align value must be boolean-evaluable (ideally True or False). It indicates whether, when the dialog is being laid out, the label for this question should be aligned with the other labels of the same category. When absent the default is True. (This has no effect when the question value is None, so if you want an aligned, empty label use a space as the question value.)

String Questions

A string question displays the label followed by a text entry field. Its type value must be “string”.

The only additional key for a string question is default, which is optional. When the key present its value, which must be a string, will be the initial value of the answer entry field. An example dictionary is:

{ 'type': 'string', 'question': 'Number of contours:',
   'tag': 3, 'default': '4' }

Choice Questions

Choice questions ask the user to pick a subset of given answers. Its type value must be “choice”. This question type has three additional dictionary keys: answers, multiple, and checks.

The answers value must be a Python list of potential answers, each of which is its own small dictionary. The keys to an answer dictionary are name, tag, and default. The value of name must be the string the user will choose among. The value of tag, when present, will be used to report the answer in the result dictionary—when not present the name string will be used. Unlike the question tag an answer tag value can be of any type whatsoever. The default key is an optional key that must have a boolean-evaluable value. When True the answer is selected when the dialog is presented.

The multiple value must be boolean-evaluable; when the key is absent the default is False. It indicates whether the user must choose exactly one answer or can choose multiple or, potentially, no answers. When multiple is false there must be at most one answer for which default is True.

The checks value must also be boolean-evaluable and its default is also False. By default a choice question is presented as in the fontforge.askChoices() dialog, with a (potentially) scrolling vertical list similar to pop-up menu. When checks is True and multiple is False the answers are presented as radio buttons. When checks is True and multiple is True the answers are presented as checkboxes. Radio buttons and checkboxes allow better keyboard-based selection (see the mnemonics section) and may have other advantages.

An example choice question dictionary is:

{ 'type': 'choice', 'question': 'What direction:',
  'tag': 'direction', 'checks': True,
  'answers': [ { 'name': 'Clockwise', 'tag': 'cw', 'default': True },
               { 'name': 'Counter-Clockwise', 'tag': 'ccw' } ]

Pathname Questions

The open pathname and save pathname questions have the respective type values “openpath” and “savepath”. These differ from the fontforge.openFilename() and fontforge.saveFilename() methods in that they do not raise a file browser directly. Instead they display an entry field, similar to a string question, followed by a button to raise a browser, similar to the path-specifying entries in :doc:the preferences dialog </ui/dialogs/prefs>. Each also has an optional default key for an initial pathname value, and an optional filter key to specify a file filter. Both must be strings. An example dictionary is:

{ 'type': 'openpath', 'question': 'Glif file:', 'tag': 'file',
  'default': 'input.glif', 'filter': '*.glif' }


Questions are organized into categories. A category is a dictionary with two keys: category and questions. The value of category should be a either string to display to the user or None if no label is needed. The value of questions must be a list of question dictionaries, as described above. A category containing the dictionaries above looks like:

Example ``askMulti`` dialog

The Specification

The specification passed as the spec parameter can be any of:

  • A question dictionary

  • A list of question dictionaries

  • A category dictionary

  • A list of category dictionaries

In the last case each category will be given its own tab, with the category names selectable on the left side of the dialog. (Whenever there is only one category there is no list, even when the category has a name.)

The Return Value

When the user cancels the dialog, either with the “Cancel” button or by closing the window, the askMulti method returns None. Otherwise it returns a Python dictionary of results, one for each question. The key will be the tag value or, if none was present, the question string. For all question types other than “choice” the value is a string. For a choice question where multiple is False the value is the tag or name of the answer. For a multiple choice question the value is a tuple of tag or name values. The tuple may be empty.

A result dictionary for the collection above could be:

{3: '20', 'direction': 'ccw', 'file': '/tmp/in.glif'}

When the specification is invalid the method will throw a TypeError or ValueError exception with information about the problem.