A cross platform package to do curses-like operations with high-level APIs to create ASCII art animations and text UIs
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Asciimatics is a package to help people create full-screen text UIs (from interactive forms to ASCII animations) on any platform. It is licensed under the Apache Software Foundation License 2.0.

It originated from some work that I did on PiConga to create a retro text credits roll for the project. This worked so well, I re-used it for another project. At that point I felt it might be fun to share with others.


Why not? It brings a little joy to anyone who was programming in the 80s... Oh and it provides a single cross-platform Python class to do all the low-level console function you could ask for, including:

  • Coloured/styled text - including 256 colour terminals and unicode characters
  • Cursor positioning
  • Keyboard input (without blocking or echoing) including unicode support
  • Mouse input (terminal permitting)
  • Detecting and handling when the console resizes
  • Screen scraping

In addition, it provides some simple, high-level APIs to provide more complex features including:

  • Anti-aliased ASCII line-drawing
  • Image to ASCII conversion - including JPEG and GIF formats
  • Many animation effects - e.g. sprites, particle systems, banners, etc.
  • Various widgets for text UIs - e.g. buttons, text boxes, radio buttons, etc.

Currently this package has been proven to work on CentOS 6 & 7, Raspbian (i.e. Debian wheezy), Ubuntu 14.04, Windows 7, 8 & 10, OSX 10.11 and Android Marshmallow (courtesy of https://termux.com), though it should also work for any other platform that provides a working curses implementation.

(Please let me know if you successfully verified it on other platforms so that I can update this list).


Asciimatics supports Python versions 2 & 3. For the precise list of tested versions, refer to pypi.

To install asciimatics, simply install with pip as follows:

$ pip install asciimatics

This should install all your dependencies for you. If you don't use pip or it fails to install them, you can install the dependencies directly using the packages listed in requirements.txt. Additionally, Windows users will need to install pypiwin32.

How to use it?

To use the low-level API, simply create a Screen and use it to print coloured text at any location, or get mouse/keyboard input. For example, here is a variant on the classic "hello world":

from random import randint
from asciimatics.screen import Screen

def demo(screen):
    while True:
        screen.print_at('Hello world!',
                        randint(0, screen.width), randint(0, screen.height),
                        colour=randint(0, screen.colours - 1),
                        bg=randint(0, screen.colours - 1))
        ev = screen.get_key()
        if ev in (ord('Q'), ord('q')):


That same code works on Windows, OSX and Linux and paves the way for all the higher level features. These still need the Screen, but now you also create a Scene using some Effects and then get the Screen to play it. For example, this code:

from asciimatics.effects import Cycle, Stars
from asciimatics.renderers import FigletText
from asciimatics.scene import Scene
from asciimatics.screen import Screen

def demo(screen):
    effects = [
            FigletText("ASCIIMATICS", font='big'),
            int(screen.height / 2 - 8)),
            FigletText("ROCKS!", font='big'),
            int(screen.height / 2 + 3)),
        Stars(screen, 200)
    screen.play([Scene(effects, 500)])


should produce something like this:


Or maybe you're looking to create a TUI? In which case this simple code will give you this:

contact list sample


Full documentation of all the above (and more!) is available at http://asciimatics.readthedocs.org/

More examples

More examples of what you can do are available in the project samples directory, hosted on GitHub. See https://github.com/peterbrittain/asciimatics/tree/v1.7/samples.

To view them, simply download these files and then simply run them directly with python. Alternatively, you can browse recordings of many of the samples in the gallery at https://github.com/peterbrittain/asciimatics/wiki.

Bugs and enhancements

If you have a problem, please check out the troubleshooting guide at http://asciimatics.readthedocs.io/en/latest/troubleshooting.html. If this doesn't solve your problem, you can report bugs (or submit enhancement requests) at https://github.com/peterbrittain/asciimatics/issues.

Contributing to the project

If you'd like to take part in this project (and see your name in the credits!), check out the guidance at http://asciimatics.readthedocs.org/en/latest/intro.html#contributing-to-this-project.