cross-platform coloured text in terminal

Jonathan Hartley tartley at
Fri Apr 16 11:31:33 CEST 2010

On Apr 16, 10:28 am, Jonathan Hartley <tart... at> wrote:
> Hi,
> It irks me that I know of no simple cross-platform way to print
> colored terminal text from Python.
> As I understand it, printing ANSI escape codes (as wrapped nicely by
> module termcolor and others) works on Macs and *nix, but only works on
> Windows if one has installed the ANSI.SYS device driver, which most
> users have not. However, on Windows, there is an alternative method,
> which is to make win32 calls via ctypes.
> I'd like to try and unite these different implementations under a
> single cross-platform API. Has this been done already? I understand
> that the detailed capabilities of the two implementations (eg. dim/
> bright colors) might not map neatly, but at least for simple colored
> text, it should be OK.
> I'm playing with ideas of what API to expose. My favourite one is to
> simply embed ANSI codes in the stream to be printed. Then this will
> work as-is on Mac and *nix. To make it work on Windows, printing could
> be done to a file0-like object which wraps stdout:
> class ColorStream(object):
>     def __init__(self, wrapped):
>         self.wrapped = wrapped
>     def write(self, text):
>         # magic goes here
>         self.wrapped.write(text)
>     def __getattr__(self, name):
>         return getattr(self.wrapped, name)
> term = ColorTerm(sys.stdout)
> print <<term, ANSI.GREEN + "hello"
> The idea being that in place of 'magic goes here', there will be code
> that, on Windows, searches 'text' for ANSI escape codes, strips them
> from the text, and converts them into the appropriate win32 calls.
> For extra nasty magic, either the module or the user of the module
> could wrap sys.stdout globally:
> sys.stdout = ColoredStream(sys.stdout)
> Then print statements in the user's code would simply be:
> print ANSI.GREEN + "hello"
> and this would work on all platforms.
> No doubt there are many problems with these ideas. I would love to
> hear about them. Many thanks.

Sorry, I forgot to mention: The reason I like this idea is that, in
theory, all existing libraries like termcolor will then work,
unmodified, on all platforms.

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