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MEP23: Multiple Figures per GUI window




Add the possibility to have multiple figures grouped under the same FigureManager

Detailed description

Under the current structure, every canvas has its own window.

This is and may continue to be the desired method of operation for most use cases.

Sometimes when there are too many figures open at the same time, it is desirable to be able to group these under the same window [see](

The proposed solution modifies FigureManagerBase to contain and manage more than one canvas. The settings parameter rcParams['backend.multifigure'] control when the MultiFigure behaviour is desired.


It is important to note, that the proposed solution, assumes that the [MEP22]( is already in place. This is simply because the actual implementation of the Toolbar makes it pretty hard to switch between canvases.


The first implementation will be done in GTK3 using a Notebook as canvas container.


will add the following new methods

  • add_canvas: To add a canvas to an existing FigureManager object
  • remove_canvas: To remove a canvas from a FigureManager object, if it is the last one, it will be destroyed
  • move_canvas: To move a canvas from one FigureManager to another.
  • set_canvas_title: To change the title associated with a specific canvas container
  • get_canvas_title: To get the title associated with a specific canvas container
  • get_active_canvas: To get the canvas that is in the foreground and is subject to the gui events. There is no set_active_canvas because the active canvas, is defined when show is called on a Canvas object.


To control which FigureManager will contain the new figures, an extra optional parameter figuremanager will be added, this parameter value will be passed to new_figure_manager_given_figure


  • If figuremanager parameter is give, this FigureManager object will be used instead of creating a new one.
  • If rcParams['backend.multifigure'] == True: The last FigureManager object will be used instead of creating a new one.

Backward compatibility

For the MultiFigure properties to be visible, the user has to activate them directly setting rcParams['backend.multifigure'] = True

It should be backwards compatible for backends that adhere to the current FigureManagerBase structure even if they have not implemented the MultiFigure magic yet.


Insted of modifing the FigureManagerBase it could be possible to add a parallel class, that handles the cases where rcParams['backend.multifigure'] = True. This will warranty that there won’t be any problems with custom made backends, but also makes bigger the code, and more things to mantain.