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A Graphical Terminal Interface

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NOTE: This version is OBSOLETE. Download the latest version from

GraphTerm is a browser-based graphical terminal interface, that aims to seamlessly blend the command line and graphical user interfaces. You can use it just like a regular terminal, backwards-compatible with xterm, and access the additional graphical features as needed. These features can help impove your terminal workflow by integrating clickable folder navigation with command line operations and letting you view image/HTML output without a separate window.

The GraphTerm server can be configured to support multiple users, to create a browser-based virtual computer lab for teaching and collaboration. The “lab instructor” can access all the terminal sessions via a “dashboard” and monitor the progress of each user in carrying out assigned activities, such as entering code in a “notebook”. Lab users can collaboratively view and enter shell commands in each other’s terminals, edit files and notebooks etc.

You can use the GraphTerm API to build “mashups” of web applications that work seamlessly within the terminal. Sample mashups include:

  • greveal: Inline version of reveal.js to display Markdown files as slideshows

  • gtutor: Inline version of for visual tracing of python programs

  • yweather: Using Yahoo weather API to display weather

GraphTerm builds upon two earlier projects, XMLTerm which implemented a terminal using the Mozilla framework and AjaxTerm which is an AJAX/Python terminal implementation. (Other recent projects along these lines include TermKit and Terminology.)

A GraphTerm terminal window is just a web page served from the GraphTerm web server program. Multiple users can connect simultaneously to the web server to share terminal sessions. Multiple hosts can also connect to the server (on a different port), allowing a single user to access all of them via the browser. The GraphTerm server acts as a router, sending input from browser windows for different users to the appropriate terminal (“pseudo-tty”) sessions running on different hosts, and transmitting the terminal output back to the browser windows.

This flexible, networked implementation allows for several possible applications for GraphTerm, such as:

  • an enhanced terminal that combines the command line with basic GUI operations like navigating folders, file drag-and-drop, displaying images etc.

  • an inline data visualization tool to view output from plotting libraries like matplotlib.

  • a notebook interface for data analysis and documentation (like the Mathematica or IPython notebook interface, but at the shell level).

  • a virtual computer lab for teaching and demonstrations. The GraphTerm server can be set up in the cloud and accessed by multiple users using their laptop/mobile browsers. You can then share shell commands and presentations, trace code execution, interact with other users, etc.

  • a collaborative terminal that can be remotely accessed by multiple users simultaneously, to run programs, edit files etc. It can also be used as a detachable terminal multiplexer, sort of like GNU screen or tmux.

The interface is designed to be touch-friendly for use with tablets, relying upon command re-use to minimize the need for a keyboard. It preserves history for all commands, whether entered by typing, clicking, or tapping. It is also themable using CSS.

You can find more information on using GraphTerm in its project page and browse the source code on github. Images of GraphTerm in action can be found in screenshots and in this YouTube Video.

Here is a sample screenshot showing the output of the command, which embeds six smaller terminals within the main terminal, running six different commands from the GraphTerm toolchain: (i) live twitter stream output using gtweet, (ii) weather info using yweather, (ii) slideshow from markdown file using greveal and reveal.js, (iv) word cloud using d3cloud and d3.js, (v) inline graphics using, and (vi) notebook mode using the standard python interpreter.

NOTE: This version is OBSOLETE. Download the latest version from

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