Is Making Advanced GUI Applications with Godot the Future?

Erik Engheim
The Startup
Published in
20 min readMay 26, 2020

I have been trying out the Godot Game Engine lately, and I have been mightily impressed with what I see.

While it was designed to make games, it has an exceptionally sophisticated system for making graphical user interfaces. I think this is the future for advanced GUI applications. Not convinced?

Look at the the image below. This is from the Godot Editor. It looks pretty sophisticated, right? You have:

  • A canvas of nodes connected nodes used in a visual programming system (in addition to several other supported programming systems).
  • Resource management.
  • A sophisticated tree widget for manipulating a scene graph.
  • Inspector with properties you can filter.
  • Code editor with syntax highlighting, advanced code completion, jump to definition, realtime warnings etc.
  • Tile map editor, animation editor and tons of other editors for audio, and many other things I haven’t even gotten time to explore.
The Godot editor is a sophisticated GUI application made in Godot itself.

How do you think they made such a sophisticated GUI? Was it Qt? Electron? Cocoa?

No, this was all made with the Godot Game Engine itself. They are really eating their own dog food. So everything you see here you can accomplish in your own application using Godot.

Sure, you can find sophisticate GUIs like this through other tools. For example, some of the competing engines use Qt to make their editor.

It is Tiny

But here is the kicker:

All of Godot with Engine end Editor is a mere 31.1 MB download. One click installation and the editor launches instantly.

When I unpack and install, it is still just around 70 MB. That is an absolutely tiny install relative to the amount of functionality you get. Let us put this a bit in perspective. Merely downloading Qt5 requires 5 GB of free space! (That’s downloading the SDK. Just supporting the running of Qt applications requires much less space).

Consider Qt Creator IDE, which is quite minimalist. Without Qt — which it requires to run — it requires over 200 MB.

Erik Engheim
The Startup

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.