- Text user interface
TUI short for: Text User Interface or "Textual User Interface" (and sometimes "Terminal User Interface"), is a
retronymthat was coined sometime after the invention of graphical user interfaces, to distinguish them from text based user interfaces. TUIs are different from command-line interfaces in that, like GUIs, they use the entire screen area and do not necessarily provide line-by-line output. However, TUIs only use text and symbols available on a typical text terminal, while GUIs typically use high resolution graphics modes.
TUI on ANSI-compatible terminals
ANSI X3.64defines a standard set of escape sequences that can be used to drive terminals to create TUIs (see ANSI escape code.) However, not all terminals follow this standard, and many non-compatible but functionally equivalent sequences exist.
TUI under MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows
IBM PCs and compatibles, the BIOSand MS-DOSsystem calls provide a way of writing text on the screen, and the ANSI.SYSdriver could process standard ANSI escape sequences. However, programmers soon learned that writing data directly to the screen buffer was much faster, as well as being much simpler to program and less error-prone. This change in programming technique resulted in a large number of MS-DOS TUI programs.
Most often those programs used blue background for the main screen, with white or yellow characters, although commonly they had also user color customization. Later, the interface became deeply influenced by
GUIs, adding pull-down menus and dialog boxes. Soon mouse input was added (even at graphical resolution in some cases thanks to the ability of the EGA and VGA display adapters to redefine the text character shapes by software), providing additional functionality.
Some notable programs of this kind were
Microsoft Word, MS-DOS Shell, WordPerfect, Norton Commander, Borland Turbo C(which included the conio library), Lotus 1-2-3and many others. Some of these interfaces survive even during the MicrosoftWindows 3."x" age in the first 1990's; for example, the Microsoft C6.0 compiler, employed to write true GUIprograms under 16-bitMS Windows, still features its own TUI.
Since the beginning,
Microsoft Windowsincludes a console for displaying MS-DOS software. Later versions added the Win32 consoleas a native interface for command line and TUI programs. The console usually opens in window mode, but it can be switched to full true text mode screen and vice versa by pressing the Alt and Enter keys together.
TUI under Unix-like systems
Unix-likeoperating systems, TUIs are often constructed using the terminal control library "curses", or " ncurses", a mostly compatible library.
The advent of the "curses" library with Berkeley Unix created a portable and stable API for which to write TUIs. The ability to talk to various
text terminaltypes using the same interfaces led to more widespread use of "visual" Unix programs, which occupied the entire terminal screen instead of using a simple line interface. This can be seen in text editors such as vi, mail clients such as pine or mutt, system management tools such as SMIT or SAM, and web browsers such as lynx. Some applications, such as w3m, as well as older versions of pine and viuse the less-capable termcaplibrary, performing many of the functions associated with curses within the application.
In addition, the rise in popularity of
Linuxbrought many former MS-DOS users to a Unix-like platform, which has fostered an MS-DOS influence in many TUIs. The program minicom, for example, is modeled after the popular MS-DOS program Telix. Some other TUI programs, such as the Twin desktop, were portedover.
Mac OS X text editor BBEditincludes a 'shell worksheet' function that works as a full-screen shell window.
full screen editorof the Commodore8-bit computers was advanced in its market segment for its time. Users could move the cursor over the entire screen area, entering and editing BASICprogram lines, as well as direct modecommands.
Macintosh Programmer's Workshopprogramming environment included Commando, a TUI shell. It was the inspiration for BBEdit's shell worksheet.
Text terminalfor the computer interface of textual programs
Text mode demos
Roguelike, a type of game typically using a TUI
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