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A feature-filled fork of Erik Rose's blessings project

Project description

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Coding with Blessed looks like this…

from blessed import Terminal

t = Terminal()

print(t.bold('Hi there!'))
print(t.bold_red_on_bright_green('It hurts my eyes!'))

with t.location(0, t.height - 1):
    print('press any key to continue.')))

with t.cbreak():

The Pitch

Blessed is a more simplified wrapper around curses, providing :

  • Styles, color, and maybe a little positioning without necessarily clearing the whole screen first.
  • Leave more than one screenful of scrollback in the buffer after your program exits, like a well-behaved command-line application should.
  • No more C-like calls to tigetstr and tparm.
  • Act intelligently when somebody redirects your output to a file, omitting all of the terminal sequences such as styling, colors, or positioning.
  • Dead-simple keyboard handling, modeled after the Basic language’s INKEY$

Before And After

With the built-in curses module, this is how you would typically print some underlined text at the bottom of the screen:

from curses import tigetstr, setupterm, tparm
from fcntl import ioctl
from os import isatty
import struct
import sys
from termios import TIOCGWINSZ

# If we want to tolerate having our output piped to other commands or
# files without crashing, we need to do all this branching:
if hasattr(sys.stdout, 'fileno') and isatty(sys.stdout.fileno()):
    sc = tigetstr('sc')
    cup = tigetstr('cup')
    rc = tigetstr('rc')
    underline = tigetstr('smul')
    normal = tigetstr('sgr0')
    sc = cup = rc = underline = normal = ''
print(sc)  # Save cursor position.
if cup:
    # tigetnum('lines') doesn't always update promptly, hence this:
    height = struct.unpack('hhhh', ioctl(0, TIOCGWINSZ, '\000' * 8))[0]
    print(tparm(cup, height - 1, 0))  # Move cursor to bottom.
print('This is {under}underlined{normal}!'.format(under=underline,
print(rc)  # Restore cursor position.

The same program with Blessed is simply:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()
with term.location(0, term.height - 1):
    print('This is', term.underline('pretty!'))


Weather forecast demo (by @jquast) Tetris game demo (by @johannesl) api oneliners demo (art by xzip!impure) x/84 bbs quick logon screen (art by xzip!impure)

What It Provides

Blessed provides just one top-level object: Terminal. Instantiating a Terminal figures out whether you’re on a terminal at all and, if so, does any necessary setup. After that, you can proceed to ask it all sorts of things about the terminal, such as its size and color support, and use its styling to construct strings containing color and styling. Also, the special sequences inserted with application keys (arrow and function keys) are understood and decoded, as well as your locale-specific encoded multibyte input.

Simple Formatting

Lots of handy formatting codes are available as attributes on a Terminal class instance. For example:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()
print('I am ' + term.bold + 'bold' + term.normal + '!')

These capabilities (bold, normal) are translated to their sequences, which when displayed simply change the video attributes. And, when used as a callable, automatically wraps the given string with this sequence, and terminates it with normal.

The same can be written as:

print('I am' + term.bold('bold') + '!')

You may also use the Terminal instance as an argument for .format string method, so that capabilities can be displayed in-line for more complex strings:

print('{t.red_on_yellow}Candy corn{t.normal} for everyone!'.format(t=term))


The basic capabilities supported by most terminals are:

Turn on ‘extra bright’ mode.
Switch fore and background attributes.
Turn on blinking.
Reset attributes to default.

The less commonly supported capabilities:

Enable half-bright mode.
Enable underline mode.
Exit underline mode.
Enable italicized text.
Exit italics.
Enable shadow text mode (rare).
Exit shadow text mode.
Enable standout mode (often, an alias for reverse.).
Exit standout mode.
Enable subscript mode.
Exit subscript mode.
Enable superscript mode.
Exit superscript mode.
Visual bell, flashes the screen.

Note that, while the inverse of underline is no_underline, the only way to turn off bold or reverse is normal, which also cancels any custom colors.

Many of these are aliases, their true capability names (such as ‘smul’ for ‘begin underline mode’) may still be used. Any capability in the terminfo(5) manual, under column Cap-name, may be used as an attribute to a Terminal instance. If it is not a supported capability, or a non-tty is used as an output stream, an empty string is returned.


Color terminals are capable of at least 8 basic colors.

  • black
  • red
  • green
  • yellow
  • blue
  • magenta
  • cyan
  • white

The same colors, prefixed with bright_ (synonymous with bold_), such as bright_blue, provides 16 colors in total.

The same colors, prefixed with on_ sets the background color, some terminals also provide an additional 8 high-intensity versions using on_bright, some example compound formats:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()

print(term.on_bright_blue('Blue skies!'))
print(term.bright_red_on_bright_yellow('Pepperoni Pizza!'))

There is also a numerical interface to colors, which takes an integer from 0-15.:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()

for n in range(16):
    print(term.color(n)('Color {}'.format(n)))

If the terminal defined by the TERM environment variable does not support colors, these simply return empty strings, or the string passed as an argument when used as a callable, without any video attributes. If the TERM defines a terminal that does support colors, but actually does not, they are usually harmless.

Colorless terminals, such as the amber or monochrome vt220, do not support colors but do support reverse video. For this reason, it may be desirable in some applications, such as a selection bar, to simply select a foreground color, followed by reverse video to achieve the desired background color effect:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()

print('some terminals {standout} more than others'.format(

Which appears as bright white on green on color terminals, or black text on amber or green on monochrome terminals. You can check whether the terminal definition used supports colors, and how many, using the number_of_colors property, which returns any of 0 8 or 256 for terminal types such as vt220, ansi, and xterm-256color, respectively.

NOTE: On most color terminals, bright_black is actually a very dark shade of gray!

Compound Formatting

If you want to do lots of crazy formatting all at once, you can just mash it all together:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()


I’d be remiss if I didn’t credit couleur, where I probably got the idea for all this mashing. This compound notation comes in handy if you want to allow users to customize formatting, just allow compound formatters, like bold_green, as a command line argument or configuration item:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import argparse

parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(
    description='displays argument as specified style')
parser.add_argument('style', type=str, help='style formatter')
parser.add_argument('text', type=str, nargs='+')

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()
args = parser.parse_args()

style = getattr(term,

print(style(' '.join(args.text)))

Saved as, this could be called simply:

$ ./ bright_blue_reverse Blue Skies

Moving The Cursor

When you want to move the cursor, you have a few choices, the location(y=None, x=None) context manager, move(y, x), move_y(row), and move_x(col) attributes.

Moving Temporarily

A context manager, location is provided to move the cursor to a (x, y) screen position and restore the previous position upon exit:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()
with term.location(0, term.height - 1):
    print('Here is the bottom.')
print('This is back where I came from.')

Parameters to location() are optional x and/or y:

with term.location(y=10):
    print('We changed just the row.')

When omitted, it saves the cursor position and restore it upon exit:

with term.location():
    print(term.move(1, 1) + 'Hi')
    print(term.move(9, 9) + 'Mom')

NOTE: calls to location may not be nested, as only one location may be saved.

Moving Permanently

If you just want to move and aren’t worried about returning, do something like this:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()
print(term.move(10, 1) + 'Hi, mom!')
Position the cursor, parameter in form of (y, x)
Position the cursor at given horizontal column.
Position the cursor at given vertical column.

NOTE: The location method receives arguments in form of (x, y), where the move argument receives arguments in form of (y, x). This is a flaw in the original erikrose/blessings implementation, kept for compatibility.

One-Notch Movement

Finally, there are some parameterless movement capabilities that move the cursor one character in various directions:

  • move_left
  • move_right
  • move_up
  • move_down

NOTE: move_down is often valued as \n, which additionally returns the carriage to column 0, depending on your terminal emulator.

Height And Width

Use the height and width properties of the Terminal class instance:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()
height, width = term.height, term.width
with term.location(x=term.width / 3, y=term.height / 3):
    print('1/3 ways in!')

These are always current, so they may be used with a callback from SIGWINCH signals.:

import signal
from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()

def on_resize(sig, action):
    print('height={t.height}, width={t.width}'.format(t=term))

signal.signal(signal.SIGWINCH, on_resize)


Clearing The Screen

Blessed provides syntactic sugar over some screen-clearing capabilities:

Clear the whole screen.
Clear to the end of the line.
Clear backward to the beginning of the line.
Clear to the end of screen.

Full-Screen Mode

If you’ve ever noticed a program, such as an editor, restores the previous screen (such as your shell prompt) after exiting, you’re seeing the enter_fullscreen and exit_fullscreen attributes in effect.

Switch to alternate screen, previous screen is stored by terminal driver.
Switch back to standard screen, restoring the same terminal state.

There’s also a context manager you can use as a shortcut:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()
with term.fullscreen():
    print(term.move_y(term.height/2) +
'press any key'))

Pipe Savvy

If your program isn’t attached to a terminal, such as piped to a program like less(1) or redirected to a file, all the capability attributes on Terminal will return empty strings. You’ll get a nice-looking file without any formatting codes gumming up the works.

If you want to override this, such as when piping output to less -r, pass argument force_styling=True to the Terminal constructor.

In any case, there is a does_styling attribute on Terminal that lets you see whether the terminal attached to the output stream is capable of formatting. If it is False, you may refrain from drawing progress bars and other frippery and just stick to content:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()
if term.does_styling:
    with term.location(0, term.height - 1):
        print('Progress: [=======>   ]')
print(term.bold('Important stuff'))

Sequence Awareness

Blessed may measure the printable width of strings containing sequences, providing .center, .ljust, and .rjust methods, using the terminal screen’s width as the default width value:

from blessed import Terminal

term = Terminal()
with term.location(y=term.height / 2):
    print ('X'))

Any string containing sequences may have its printable length measured using the .length method. Additionally, textwrap.wrap() is supplied on the Terminal class as method .wrap method that is also sequence-aware, so now you may word-wrap strings containing sequences. The following example displays a poem from Tao Te Ching, word-wrapped to 25 columns:

from blessed import Terminal

t = Terminal()

poem = u''.join((term.bold_blue('Plan difficult tasks '),
                 term.bold_black('through the simplest tasks'),
                 term.bold_cyan('Achieve large tasks '),
                 term.cyan('through the smallest tasks'))
for line in poem:
    print('\n'.join(term.wrap(line, width=25,
                              subsequent_indent=' ' * 4)))

Keyboard Input

The built-in python raw_input function does not return a value until the return key is pressed, and is not suitable for detecting each individual keypress, much less arrow or function keys that emit multibyte sequences. Special termios(4) routines are required to enter Non-canonical, known in curses as cbreak(3). These functions also receive bytes, which must be incrementally decoded to unicode.

Blessed handles all of these special cases with the following simple calls.


The context manager cbreak can be used to enter key-at-a-time mode: Any keypress by the user is immediately consumed by read calls:

from blessed import Terminal
import sys

t = Terminal()

with t.cbreak():
    # blocks until any key is pressed.

The context manager raw is the same as cbreak, except interrupt (^C), quit (^\), suspend (^Z), and flow control (^S, ^Q) characters are not trapped, but instead sent directly as their natural character. This is necessary if you actually want to handle the receipt of Ctrl+C


The method inkey resolves many issues with terminal input by returning a unicode-derived Keypress instance. Although its return value may be printed, joined with, or compared to other unicode strings, it also provides the special attributes is_sequence (bool), code (int), and name (str):

from blessed import Terminal

t = Terminal()

print("press 'q' to quit.")
with t.cbreak():
    val = None
    while val not in (u'q', u'Q',):
        val = t.inkey(timeout=5)
        if not val:
           # timeout
           print("It sure is quiet in here ...")
        elif val.is_sequence:
           print("got sequence: {}.".format((str(val),, val.code)))
        elif val:
           print("got {}.".format(val))

Its output might appear as:

got sequence: ('\x1b[A', 'KEY_UP', 259).
got sequence: ('\x1b[1;2A', 'KEY_SUP', 337).
got sequence: ('\x1b[17~', 'KEY_F6', 270).
got sequence: ('\x1b', 'KEY_ESCAPE', 361).
got sequence: ('\n', 'KEY_ENTER', 343).
got /.
It sure is quiet in here ...
got sequence: ('\x1bOP', 'KEY_F1', 265).
It sure is quiet in here ...
got q.

A timeout value of None (default) will block forever. Any other value specifies the length of time to poll for input, if no input is received after such time has elapsed, an empty string is returned. A timeout value of 0 is nonblocking.

keyboard codes

The return value of the Terminal method inkey may be inspected for ts property is_sequence. When True, it means the value is a multibyte sequence, representing an application key of your terminal.

The code property (int) may then be compared with any of the following attributes of the Terminal instance, which are equivalent to the same available in curs_getch(3), with the following exceptions:

  • use KEY_DELETE instead of KEY_DC (chr(127))
  • use KEY_INSERT instead of KEY_IC
  • use KEY_PGUP instead of KEY_PPAGE
  • use KEY_PGDOWN instead of KEY_NPAGE
  • use KEY_ESCAPE instead of KEY_EXIT
  • use KEY_SUP instead of KEY_SR (shift + up)
  • use KEY_SDOWN instead of KEY_SF (shift + down)

Additionally, use any of the following common attributes:

  • KEY_BACKSPACE (chr(8)).
  • KEY_TAB (chr(9)).
  • KEY_SLEFT (shift + left).
  • KEY_SRIGHT (shift + right).
  • KEY_F1 through KEY_F22.

Shopping List

There are decades of legacy tied up in terminal interaction, so attention to detail and behavior in edge cases make a difference. Here are some ways Blessed has your back:

  • Uses the terminfo(5) database so it works with any terminal type
  • Provides up-to-the-moment terminal height and width, so you can respond to terminal size changes (SIGWINCH signals). (Most other libraries query the COLUMNS and LINES environment variables or the cols or lines terminal capabilities, which don’t update promptly, if at all.)
  • Avoids making a mess if the output gets piped to a non-terminal.
  • Works great with standard Python string formatting.
  • Provides convenient access to all terminal capabilities.
  • Outputs to any file-like object (StringIO, file), not just stdout.
  • Keeps a minimum of internal state, so you can feel free to mix and match with calls to curses or whatever other terminal libraries you like
  • Safely decodes internationalization keyboard input to their unicode equivalents.
  • Safely decodes multibyte sequences for application/arrow keys.
  • Allows the printable length of strings containing sequences to be determined.
  • Provides plenty of context managers to safely express various terminal modes, restoring to a safe state upon exit.

Blessed does not provide…

  • Native color support on the Windows command prompt. However, it should work when used in concert with colorama. Patches welcome!

Devlopers, Bugs

Bugs or suggestions? Visit the issue tracker.

For patches, please construct a test case if possible. To test, install and execute python package command tox.

For the keenly interested, API Documentation is available.


Blessed is derived from Blessings, which is under the MIT License, and shares the same. See the LICENSE file.

Version History

  • enhancement: export keyboard-read function as public method getch(), so that it may be overridden by custom terminal implementers.
  • enhancement: allow inkey() and kbhit() to return early when interrupted by signal by passing argument _intr_continue=False.
  • bugfix: if locale.getpreferredencoding() returns empty string or an encoding that is not a valid codec for codecs.getincrementaldecoder, fallback to ascii and emit a warning.
  • bugfix: ensure FormattingString and ParameterizingString may be pickled.
  • bugfix: allow term.inkey() and related to be called without a keyboard.
  • Forked github project erikrose/blessings to jquast/blessed, this project was previously known as blessings version 1.6 and prior.
  • introduced: context manager cbreak() and raw(), which is equivalent to tty.setcbreak() and tty.setraw(), allowing input from stdin to be read as each key is pressed.
  • introduced: inkey() and kbhit(), which will return 1 or more characters as a unicode sequence, with attributes .code and .name non-None when a multibyte sequence is received, allowing arrow keys and such to be detected. Optional value timeout allows timed polling or blocking.
  • introduced: center(), rjust(), ljust(), strip(), and strip_seqs() methods. Allows text containing sequences to be aligned to screen, or width specified.
  • introduced: wrap() method. Allows text containing sequences to be word-wrapped without breaking mid-sequence and honoring their printable width.
  • bugfix: cannot call setupterm() more than once per process – issue a warning about what terminal kind subsequent calls will use.
  • bugfix: resolved issue where number_of_colors fails when does_styling is False. Resolves issue where piping tests output would fail.
  • bugfix: warn and set does_styling to False when TERM is unknown.
  • bugfix: allow unsupported terminal capabilities to be callable just as supported capabilities, so that the return value of term.color(n) may be called on terminals without color capabilities.
  • bugfix: for terminals without underline, such as vt220, term.underline('text'). Would be u'text' + term.normal, now is only u'text'.
  • enhancement: some attributes are now properties, raise exceptions when assigned.
  • enhancement: pypy is now a supported python platform implementation.
  • enhancement: removed pokemon curses.error exceptions.
  • enhancement: converted nose tests to pytest, merged travis and tox.
  • enhancement: pytest fixtures, paired with a new @as_subprocess decorator are used to test a multitude of terminal types.
  • enhancement: test accessories @as_subprocess resolves various issues with different terminal types that previously went untested.
  • deprecation: python2.5 is no longer supported (as tox does not supported).
  • Add does_styling property. This takes force_styling into account and should replace most uses of is_a_tty.
  • Make is_a_tty a read-only property, like does_styling. Writing to it never would have done anything constructive.
  • Add fullscreen() and hidden_cursor() to the auto-generated docs.
  • Clean up fabfile, removing the redundant test command.
  • Add Travis support.
  • Make python test work without spurious errors on 2.6.
  • Work around a tox parsing bug in its config file.
  • Make context managers clean up after themselves even if there’s an exception. (Vitja Makarov)
  • Parameterizing a capability no longer crashes when there is no tty. (Vitja Makarov)
  • Add syntactic sugar and documentation for enter_fullscreen and exit_fullscreen.
  • Add context managers fullscreen() and hidden_cursor().
  • Now you can force a Terminal never to emit styles by passing force_styling=None.
  • Add syntactic sugar for cursor visibility control and single-space-movement capabilities.
  • Endorse the location() idiom for restoring cursor position after a series of manual movements.
  • Fix a bug in which location() wouldn’t do anything when passed zeros.
  • Allow tests to be run with python test.
  • Added number_of_colors, which tells you how many colors the terminal supports.
  • Made color(n) and on_color(n) callable to wrap a string, like the named colors can. Also, make them both fall back to the setf and setb capabilities (like the named colors do) if the ANSI setaf and setab aren’t available.
  • Allowed color attr to act as an unparametrized string, not just a callable.
  • Made height and width examine any passed-in stream before falling back to stdout. (This rarely if ever affects actual behavior; it’s mostly philosophical.)
  • Made caching simpler and slightly more efficient.
  • Got rid of a reference cycle between Terminals and FormattingStrings.
  • Updated docs to reflect that terminal addressing (as in location()) is 0-based.
  • Added support for Python 3! We need 3.2.3 or greater, because the curses library couldn’t decide whether to accept strs or bytes before that (
  • Everything that comes out of the library is now unicode. This lets us support Python 3 without making a mess of the code, and Python 2 should continue to work unless you were testing types (and badly). Please file a bug if this causes trouble for you.
  • Changed to the MIT License for better world domination.
  • Added Sphinx docs.
  • Added nicely named attributes for colors.
  • Introduced compound formatting.
  • Added wrapper behavior for styling and colors.
  • Let you force capabilities to be non-empty, even if the output stream is not a terminal.
  • Added the is_a_tty attribute for telling whether the output stream is a terminal.
  • Sugared the remaining interesting string capabilities.
  • Let location() operate on just an x or y coordinate.

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