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Python curses wheels for Windows

This is the repository for the windows-curses wheels on PyPI. The wheels are based on the wheels on Christoph Gohlke's page.

Only build-wheels.bat is original work.

Wheels built from this repository can be installed with this command:

pip install windows-curses

Starting with version 2.0, these wheels include a hack to make resizing work for Python applications that haven't been specifically adapted for PDCurses. See this commit. The description on PyPI has a longer explanation.

Note that this hack is not in Gohlke's wheels.


The curses module is in the Python standard library, but is not available on Windows. Trying to import curses gives an import error for _curses, which is provided by Modules/_cursesmodule.c in the CPython source code.

The wheels provided here are based on patches from, which make minor modifications to _cursesmodule.c to make it compatible with Windows and the PDCurses curses implementation. defines HAVE_* macros for features available in PDCurses and makes some minor additional compatibility tweaks.

The patched _cursesmodule.c is linked against PDCurses to produce a wheel that provides the _curses module on Windows and allows the standard curses module to run.

Unicode support

The wheels are built with wide character support and force the encoding to UTF-8. Remove UTF8=y from the nmake line in build-wheels.bat to use the default system encoding instead.

Build instructions

  1. Clone the repository with the following command:

    git clone --recurse-submodules

    --recurse-submodules pulls in the required PDCurses Git submodule.

  2. Install compilers compatible with the Python versions that you want to builds wheel for by following the instructions at

    Visual Studio 2019 will work for Python 3.6-3.9.

    Note: It is a good idea to install older compilers before newer ones. See the Troubleshooting section.

  3. Install Python 3.6 or later to get the Python launcher for Windows.

  4. Install any other Python versions you want to build wheels for.

    Only the Python X.Y versions that have pyXY\ directories are supported.

  5. Install/upgrade the wheel and setuptools packages for all Python versions. Taking Python 3.4 as an example, the following command will do it:

    py -3.4 -m pip install --upgrade wheel setuptools

    py is the Python launcher, which makes it easy to run a particular Python version.

  6. Open the Visual Studio Developer Command Prompt of the compiler required by the version of Python that you want to build a wheel for.

    Use the 32-bit version (x86 Native Tools Command Prompt for VS 2019) to build wheels for 32-bit Python versions, and the 64-bit version (e.g. x64 Native Tools Command Prompt for VS 2019) to build wheels for 64-bit Python versions.

  7. Run build-wheels.bat, passing it the Python version you're building a wheel for. For example, the following command will build a wheel for Python 3.6:

    build-wheels.bat 3.6

    If you have both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the same Python version installed and are building a 32-bit wheel, add "-32" to the version number, like in the following example:

    build-wheels.bat 3.6-32

    If you are building multiple wheels for Python versions that are all compatible with the same compiler, you can list all of them in the same command:

    build-wheels.bat 3.6 3.7

    build-wheels.bat first cleans and rebuilds PDCurses, and then builds and links the source code in pyXY\ for each of the specified Python versions, producing wheels as output in dist\.

Rebuilding the wheels for Python 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, and 3.9

In x86 Native Tools Command Prompt for VS 2019:

build-wheels.bat 3.6-32 3.7-32 3.8-32 3.9-32

In x64 Native Tools Command Prompt for VS 2019:

build-wheels.bat 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9

This gives a set of wheels in dist\.

Compatibility note

This building scheme above should be the safest one to use. In practice, many of the resulting wheels seem to be forwards- and backwards-compatible.

Uploading to PyPI

Don't forget to bump the version number in before building new wheels. Semantic versioning is intended.

Once the wheels are built, follow the instructions here to upload them to PyPI.

pip/PyPI will look at the wheel metadata and automatically install the right version of the wheel.

Adding support for a new Python version

  1. Create a new directory for the Python version, e.g. py39\

  2. Copy Modules\_cursesmodule.c from the CPython source code to py39\_cursesmodule.c

  3. Apply the PDCurses compatibility patch from this commit and the resizing hack from this commit to the new py39\_cursesmodule.c.

  4. Copy Modules\_curses_panel.c, Modules\clinic\_cursesmodule.c.h, and Modules\clinic\_curses_panel.c.h from the CPython sources to py39\_curses_panel.c, py39\clinic\_cursesmodule.c.h and py39\clinic\_curses_panel.c.h, respectively

In practise, Modules\_cursesmodule.c from newer Python 3 versions is likely to be compatible with older Python 3 versions too. The Python 3.6 and 3.7 wheels are currently built from identical _cursesmodule.c files (but not the Python 3.8 or 3.9 wheels).


Windows Curses Python module





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