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kaa - console text editor.

Project description

Kaa is a small and easy CUI text editor for console/terminal emulator environments.


Kaa is an easy yet powerful text editor for console user interface, providing numerous features like

  • Macro recording.
  • Undo/Redo.
  • Multiple windows/frames.
  • Syntax highlighting.
  • Grep.
  • Open source software(MIT).
  • More to come!

See for more screen shots.

Kaa is easy!

Kaa is very easy to learn in spite of its rich functionality. Only thing you need to remember is “To display menu, hit F1 key or alt+’/’ key”. Most of basic feartures could be accessed from fancy menus by hitting underlined character in the menu items. You can use kaa as easy as you are with Notepad on MS-Windows.


Kaa is written in Python. So, you can easily customize many aspects of kaa through simple Python scripts.

Cross platform

Kaa is a CUI editor that runs on most of modern UN*X flavor operating systems like Linux or Mac OS X. Kaa requires Unicode friendly environment both platform running kaa and terminal emulator/console to interact with kaa.

Cygwin environment on Windows platform is not supported at this time, but will be tested after they provide Python 3.3 package.


  • Python 3.3 or later

  • Headers and libraries for Python and ncurses with wide character support. Consult documentation of your platform for details. For Debian/Ubuntu, you can install ncurses library by

    $ sudo apt-get install python3-dev libncursesw5-dev
  • UTF-8 locales

  • (optional) Cython


Use easy_install3 or pip3 to install kaa from PyPI

$ easy_install3 kaaedit

Command line options

To start kaa, type

$ kaa [-h] [--version] [FILE [FILE ...]]

optional arguments:
  -h, --help  show this help message and exit
  --version show version info and exit

Terminal setting

Keyboard setting

Kaa uses alt key for keyboard shortcut like alt+k. On most of recent Windows or Linux terminal, alt key works out of box. But on Mac OS X, Terminal app should be configured:

  1. Select Preferences menu.
  2. Open the Settings tab.
  3. Open the keyboard tab.
  4. Check Use option as meta key.

Or, if you use iTerm2 on Mac, you should configure:

  1. Select Preferences menu.
  2. Open the Profiles tab.
  3. Open the Keys tab.
  4. Check Left option Key acts as: +Esc. button.

If you use Gnome terminal and wishes to access menu by F1 key, you should configure:

  1. Select Edit | Keyboard shortcuts menu.
  2. Scroll to the Help/Contents shortcut and change key from F1 to some another key.

Color setting

Kaa looks better with 256 color mode of terminal emulator. With you can set 256 color mode:

  1. Select Preferences menu.
  2. Open the Settings tab.
  3. Select xterm-256color for “Declare terminal as” field.

For iTerm2, you can:

  1. Select Preferences menu.
  2. Open the Profiles tab.
  3. Open the Terminal tab.
  4. Select xterm-256color for “Report terminal type” field.

Otherwise, you should manually update terminal setting. e.g., If you use bash, add following line to ~/.bashrc file:

export TERM=xterm-256color

For detail, see to enable 256 color on your terminal.


Using kaa is intuitive. Typing alphabet keys will update file as you expected. Functional keys like arrow or delete keys also works.

Using menu

To display menu, type F1 key or alt+/ (type slash key with alt key). Each items in the menu has one underlined character. The menu item is execused by typing the underlined key with or without pressing alt key.

Typing escape key hides menu.

File menu

New Create new file.
Open Open existing file.
File info Show file information. Also update per file settings of tab or indentation.
View Diff Show difference between original file and current buffer.
Save Save current file.
Save As Save current file as new file.
Close Close current frame.
Save all Save all current files.
Close all Close all frames.
[Recently] Show recently used files menu.
Quit Terminate kaa.
Recently used files memu
Recently used files Show list of recently used files.
Recently used dirs Show list of recently used directories.

Edit menu

Cut Cut selected text.
Copy Copy selected text.
Paste Paste from clipboard.
Paste History Paste from clipboard history.
Undo Undo last modification.
Redo Redo last undo.
Search Search text.
Replace Replace text.
Complete Word completion.
[Convert] Show text convert menu.
Text convert menu
Upper Convert selected text to upper case.
Lower Convert selected text to lower case.
Normalization Convert selected text to Unicode Normalization Forms(NFKC).
Full-width Convert alphabet and numbers in the selected text to full-width character.

Code memu

Comment Insert line comment character at top of lines in selected regin.
Uncomment Delete line comment character at top of lines in selected regin.

Macro menu

Start record Start macro recording.
End record End macro recording.
Run macro Run last macro.

Tools menu

Python console Execute Python script.
Grep Search text from disk.
Paste lines Insert lines of text without auto indentation.
Shell command Execute external shell command and insert the output.

Window menu

Frame list Show list of frame windows. Use left/right arrow key to change active frame.
Split vert Split current window vertically.
Split horz Split current window horizontally.
Move separator Move window separator. Use left/right arrow key to move separator.
Next window Activate next window.
Prev window Activate previous window.
Join window Join splitted window.
[Switch file] Show switch window menu.

Switch file menu

Switch file Switch content of active window.
New file here Create new file to active window.
open file here Open existing file to active window.
Recently used files Show list of recently used files.
Recently used dirs Show list of recently used directories.

Key bindings

Cursor keys

left, Control+b Cursor left.
right, Control+f Cursor right.
up Cursor up.
down Cursor down.
Control+p Move cursor to previous physical line.
Control+n Move cursor to next physical line.
Control+left, Alt+b Move cursor to previous word boundary.
Control+right, Alt+f Move cursor to next word boundary.
Alt+p, Page up Previous page.
Alt+n, Page down Next page.
Control+a, Home Move cursor to top of line.
Control+e, End Move cursor to end of line.
Alt+<, Control+Home Move cursor to top of file.
Alt+>, Control+End Move cursor to end of file.
Control+g Go to line number.

Text selection

Shift+left Select to previous character.
Shift+right Select to next character.
Shift+up Select to previous line.
Shift+down Select to next line.
Shift+Home Select text to top of line.
Shift+End Select text to end of line.
Control+Shift+Home Selects text to top of file.
Control+Shift+End Select text to end of file.
Control+Space, Control+@ Set mark to select text region.
Alt+# Set mark to select text rectangularly.
Alt+a Select all text.
Alt+c Select current word at first press. Subsequent press selects entire current line, and the third press selects entire text

Text deletion

Backspace, Control+h Delete the character to the left.
Delete, Control+d Delete the character at the cursor.
Control+backspace, Alt+h Delete the word to the left.
Control+Delete, Alt+d Delete the word to the right.
Control+k Delete the line to the right.
Alt+k Delete the current line.


Control+v Paste from clipboard.
Control+x Cut selection.
Control+c Copy selection.
Alt+v Paste from clipboard history.


Control+z Undo last change.
Control+y Redo last undo.


Control+s Search text.
Alt+s Replace text.
F2 Search prev.
F3 Search next.


F6 Toggle macro recording on/off.
F5 Run macro.
Alt+. Run last execused edit command again.
Tab Indent selected lines.
Shift+Tab Dedent selected lines.
Control+o Word completion.
Control+u Alt+! Execute command and insert the output.

Replace dialog

When regex button is checked, Replace string is also regular expression string. In this case, special characters like \t or \n are converted to tab character and newline character. Also, backreference character will be replaced to substring matched group in the search string. For example, when search string is ‘(a+)(b+)’ and replace string is ‘\2\1’, matched string ‘aabb’ will be replaced. to ‘bbaa’.

Grep dialog

Grep dialog has three input field. Search is a plain text or regular expression string to search. Directory is a directory to start searching. If Tree button was checked, files are searched recursively. Filenames is space separeted list of file spec in shell-style wildcards (e.g., *.txt *.py *.doc). Up arrow key displays history of each input field.

In the grep result window, use F9 and F10 key to traverse matches forward/backward.

Python console

Unlike Python’s interactive console, Python console in kaa does not execute Python script until you hit alt+Enter key. Until then you can edit Python script as if you are with editors without worrying about newlines and indentations.

When alt+Enter key was hit, all text in the window is executed as Python script and the value of the expression is printed out to console window. If the script contains print expression, the text will also be printed out to console window. If a part of text in the console window is selected, only text in the selected region will be execused.


Kaa executes a Python script file at ~/.kaa/ on startup. You can write Python script to customize kaa as you like.

Sample - Show line numbers

from kaa.filetype.default import defaultmode
defaultmode.DefaultMode.SHOW_LINENO = True

defaultmode.DefaultMode is base class of all text file types. Line number is diplayed if Defaultmode.SHOW_LINENO is True. If you want to show line number of paticular file types, you can update SHOW_LINENO attribute of each file type classes.

# Show line number in HTML mode
from kaa.filetype.html import htmlmode
htmlmode.HTMLMode.SHOW_LINENO = True

Sample - Customize key binding

Assign same keyboard shortcut of splitting windows command as Emacs.

from kaa.keyboard import *
from kaa.filetype.default.defaultmode import DefaultMode

   ((ctrl, 'x'), '2'): 'editor.splithorz'    # Assign C-x 2

In this example, key sequence C-x 2 (control+x followed by 2) is assigned to ‘editor.splithorz’ command.

Version history

0.8 - 2013.11.7

  • View diff between original file and current buffer.
  • Grep dialog now has ‘Dir’ button to select directory.
  • Handle SIGTERM to restore terminal state before exit.
  • Prompt to reload file when file modified by other process.

0.7 - 2013.11.5

  • Paste from clipboard history.
  • Word completion list now contains text from clipboard history.
  • New command: New file here.
  • New command: Open file here.
  • New command: Open recently used file here.
  • New command: Open recently used directory here.

0.6 - 2013.11.1

  • Basic word completion with ctrl+o.
  • Display blank line if the line is selected.
  • Various minor changes.

0.5 - 2013.10.30

  • Locate position of opened file where the file located last time.
  • Changed history database scheme. By this change, old history will be deleted.
  • Changed default color setting.
  • Kaa didn’t run if $TERM is ‘xterm-color’.

0.4 - 2013.10.27

  • Rectangular selection can be started by Alt+’#’ key.
  • Window|Join menu caused error.
  • File|Save all caused error.

0.3.1 - 2013.10.25

  • Python console window now works with Gnome terminal.
  • Window|Switch file menu caused error.
  • ^G (Goto line number) dialog shouldn’t accept ‘0’ if field is empty.

0.3.0 - 2013.10.24

  • Python console window.
  • Emacs style region selection. Now you can select region by ctrl+SPACE or ctrl+’@’key.
  • Changed some default keyboard binding.
  • A lot of bugs fixed.

0.2.0 - 2013.10.20

  • Comment/Uncomment region.
  • In replace dialog, replace-to text is now treated as regular expression text.
  • A lot of bugs fixed.

0.1.0 - 2013.10.14

  • Grep
  • Various improvements.

0.0.4 - 2013.10.11

  • New command: Close all.
  • New command: Recently used file/directory.
  • Search/Replace history.
  • Line number display setting at menu|File|File Info.

0.0.3 - 2013.10.9

  • Incremental search.
  • Accept directory name as command line argument.
  • New command: Go to line(^g).
  • New command: Select current word(^c).
  • New command: Save all files(menu|file|Save All).
  • Improve file open dialog.

0.0.2 - 2013.10.5

  • Misc commands.
  • Highlight parenthesis at cursor.
  • Support text encodnig other than utf-8.
  • Other a lot of changes.

0.0.1 - 2013.6.16

  • Initial release.

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