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mrdialog is a pure ruby library for the ncurses dialog program. dialog is a command line tool that can present questions, messages, forms using dialog boxes from a shell script. If you compiled linux kernel and typed 'make menuconfig', configured Linux from command line with various configuration managers, you have used 'dialog' like programs.

However, it is painful to program dialog from shell scripts due to lack of data structure. You constantly have to watch if the correct number of items are specified, if the arguments are in correct order for example. It is a lot of fun to program dialog from an object oriented scripting language like ruby. Compare the sample shell scripts of dialog program with the sample ruby scripts of mrdialog in the samples directory, I think you will agree.

MRDialog is based on the rdialog ruby gem by Aleks Clark.

I did the following:

  • Added features and support for all of the missing widgets.
  • Fixed the bugs I found.
  • Implemented the examples for all the widgets.

If you have bug reports, questions, requests or suggestions, please enter it in the Issues with an appropriate label.

Latest Version

The latest version is 1.0.3. Please look at the file for details. Please look at he screenshots to see how the widgets look like.


Please look at the screenshots directory. There are individual screenshots for each of the widgets. Also the animated GIF file all.gif contains screenshot of all the widgets.


The dialog program must be installed. Note: the dialog program that is available in ubuntu is little old. Check the dialog version by typing dialog --version

I tested with dialog Version: 1.2-20130928

dialog HOME:

To install

# gem install mrdialog or $ sudo gem install mrdialog

To uninstall

# gem uninstall mrdialog or $ sudo gem uninstall mrdialog

Run the sample apps

Find out where the mrdialog gem is installed. Example:

$ gem which mrdialog

cd to the samples directory and run the apps. Example:

$ cd /Library/Ruby/Gems/2.0.0/gems/mrdialog-1.0.1/samples
$ ./msgbox.rb

How to use the API

For now, please look at the apps in samples directory to see how the API works.

require 'mrdialog'
dialog =


The various properties of the dialog (shadow, title etc.) can be set by calling the appropriate setters. The supported propertes are shown below:

Property Example Description Default
shadow dialog.shadow = false Draw a shadow to the right and bottom of each dialog box. true
title dialog.title = 'foo' Specifies a title string to be displayed at the top of the dialog box N/A
logger dialog.logger ="dialog.log") Debug messages will be logged to the specified ruby Logger N/A
clear dialog.clear = true Clears the widget screen, keeping only the screen_color background. false
insecure dialog.insecure = true Makes the password widget friendlier but less secure, by echoing asterisks for each character. false
ascii_lines dialog.ascii_lines = true Rather than draw graphics lines around boxes, draw ASCII "+" and "-" in the same place. See also "--no-lines". false
rc_file dialog.rc_file = "/path/to/rc/file" Use the specified rc file. "$HOME/.dialogrc"
yes_label dialog.yes_label = "Sure" Use the specified label on the "Yes" button. "Yes"
no_label dialog.no_label = "Nope" Use the specified label on the "No" button. "No"
cancel_label dialog.cancel_label = "Forget" Use the specified label on the "Cancel" button. "Cancel"
help_button dialog.help_button = true Include a "Help" button on the dialog. false
help_label dialog.help_label = "What?" Use the specified label on the "Help" button. "Help"
extra_button dialog.extra_button = true Include an "Extra" button on the dialog. false
extra_label dialog.extra_label = "More" Use the specified label on the "Extra" button. "Extra"
dialog_options dialog.dialog_options="any valid dialog option" e.g. dialog.dialog_options="--no-tags" for checklist Pass any valid dialog option. man dialog and look at the OPTIONS section. It is the caller's responsibily to specify correct options, no validation will be done N/A


The following dialog widgets are supported:

  • buildlist
  • calendar
  • checklist
  • editbox
  • form
  • fselect
  • gauge
  • infobox
  • inputbox
  • menu
  • msgbox
  • passwordbox
  • passwordform
  • pause
  • prgbox
  • progressbox
  • programbox
  • radiolist
  • timebox
  • treeview
  • yesno

A buildlist dialog displays two lists, side-by-side. The list on the left shows unselected items. The list on the right shows selected items. As items are selected or unselected, they move between the lists. The SPACE bar is used to select or unselect an item.

Use a carriage return or the "OK" button to accept the current value in the selected-window and exit. The results are written using the order displayed in the selected-window. The caller is responsible to create the items properly. Please look at buildlist.rb for an example.

returns an array of selected tags

result_array = dialog.buildlist(text="Text Goes Here", items, height=0, width=0, listheight=0)


Please look at calendar.rb for an example.


Please look at checklist.rb for an example.


Please look at editbox.rb for an example.


Please look at form1.rb, form2.rb, form3.rb for examples.


Please look at fselect.rb for an example.


Please look at gauge.rb for an example.


Please look at infobox.rb for an example.


Please look at inputbox.rb for an example.


Please look at menubox.rb for an example.


Please look at msgbox.rb for an example.


Please look at password.rb, password2.rb for examples.


Please look at passwordform.rb for an example.


Please look at pause.rb for an example.


Please look at prgbox.rb for an example.


Please look at progressbox.rb for an example.


Please look at programbox.rb for an example.


Please look at radiolist.rb for an example.


Please look at timebox.rb for an example.


Please look at treeview.rb for an example.


Please look at yesno.rb for an example.

For Developers

Note: Pre-built mrdialog-1.0.3.gem is in the pkg directory

If you need to build the gem yourself:

Install bundler first:

$ gem install bundler
$ bundle install
  • To build: $ rake build

Will create the gem inside the pkg directory

  • To install the built gem: $ sudo gem install --local pkg/mrdialog-1.0.3.gem

  • To install using rake: $ sudo rake install

  • To install the gem to a specific directory: $ GEM_HOME=/tmp gem install --local pkg/mrdialog-1.0.3.gem

The gem will be installed in /tmp/gems directory


Lincense is MIT. Please look at the LICENSE.txt file for details.


A pure ruby library for the ncurses dialog program




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