[Tutor] What is Curses and why do they call it that.

Steve Willoughby steve at alchemy.com
Tue Oct 13 00:09:55 CEST 2009

On Mon, Oct 12, 2009 at 02:57:01PM -0700, Katt wrote:
> In my search for ways to change the color of text printed to the screen I 
> came across discussions about curses.
> Some documentation indicate it as a module that will translate commands to 
> control screen output.  Is this right?  Also, why do they call it curses?

Curses is an ancient library for handling full-screen control easily.  This
is from back in the days when you typically connected to the computer using
some sort of ASCII terminal, and graphical user interfaces were far from

The name is a humorous reference to the "cursor" on the screen which this
package controls for the application, moving it around (and curses even
contains some pretty sophisticated code for calculating how to retraw
fields, windows, etc. in ASCII characters using the least possible 
transmitted characters in each case--a boon when using a slow modem).

If you want to change text attributes or set up data entry screens
(or information displays) on a plain text terminal window or system
console, it's worth looking at curses.

Steve Willoughby    |  Using billion-dollar satellites
steve at alchemy.com   |  to hunt for Tupperware.

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