Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Building Terminal Dashboards Using Ascii/Ansi Art


Developers are most productive when working at the command prompt. A lot of applications have command line utilities to facilitate that. However those cli's restrict themselves to textual based data. When it is time to show any kind of graphics, a browser or desktop applications are preferred. For me this is a huge miss of the terminal full potential. Having a native terminal way to create graphics would allow developers keeping the same aesthetics across the board, rather than switching back and forth to the browser experience. It would also open opportunities for better ssh experience and utilities. And as it is always available a command line away, it also provides a better experience for any quick visualization we require (think dashboards, monitoring etc.)

This is why I have built a Node.JS library to build dashboards using ascii/ansi art. I am using blessed, which is an NCurses-like javascript library, and drawille, which provides an HTML5 canvas abstraction over the terminal. The full details are in the github repository.

Check it out on github.


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