Free Text User Interface Programming Libraries and Source Code

Create terminal / console based programs

Free Text User Interface Programming Libraries and Source Code, Curses Implementations

This page provides free and/or open source libraries for creating text user interfaces (TUI). They are useful if you are creating terminal or console programs that may not have access to Graphical User Interface (GUI) facilities. Examples of such program include (but are not restricted to) the bootable rescue disks of backup programs and partition managers, server management programs that may have to be accessed remotely (such as via SSH or Telnet) and so on. Typically, such libraries free you from the task of figuring how to write text or draw lines/windows/dialog boxes/widgets, etc, onto the screen in a way that supports the plethora of display devices (video cards) and terminals around. You only need to concentrate on your program logic in a device-independent way, and let the library sort out the hardware-dependent aspects.

Note that if you are writing a program for an operating system that has a graphical desktop, you may prefer to check out the Free GUI Libraries and Source Code page instead.

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Free Text User Interface Programming Libraries, Free Curses Implementations


This is a free implementation of the curses package of Unix. It has all the BSD curses facilities plus the System V enhancements. Platforms supported include Linux and most (if not all) Unix systems. It has also been ported to OS/2. For those not familiar with curses, this is standard Unix library that allows programs to write to the screen in an optimized, terminal-independent manner.


This is a library of curses widgets layered on top of the ncurses library. Although a C library, there is also a Perl extension for those who use that language.

Public Domain Curses - PDCurses

PDCurses is a cross-platform text-mode curses library that works on Windows, DOS, OS/2, X11 and SDL. The site says that the library implements "most of the functions available in X/Open and System V R4 curses". There are also ports, albeit unofficial, for the Nintendo DS, Plan 9 and the Amiga. In spite of its name, not all parts of the package are in the public domain; for example, some portions of the X11-specific files are copyrighted, and are distributed under the MIT licence ("license" in US English). Please see the various licence statements in the package for details.


Based on the (public domain?) Dflat library originally published in Dr Dobbs Journal in the 1990s, the Dflat+ text-mode user interface library supports the easy creation of DOS programs with windows, dialog boxes, and the like. It uses a messaging system to communicate and control the various windows created and managed by the library. The current version of the library (as linked to above) is released under the GNU GPL. This is a DOS C library.

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