TurboVision was a library by Borland for developing TUI's (Text User Interfaces). It was included with their C++ and Pascal compilers.

Were there any other TUI libraries that supported multiple compilers (Borland/Watcom), and maybe different OS'es (DOS, Windows, OS/2)?

The only thing I found was a library called VIDMGR (https://github.com/zoomosis/vidmgr), but this one is more low-level, and doesn't provide any real widgets I think.

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    I don't think it was ever used much on DOS/Windows/OS/2, but the curses C library is cross-platform, and also has ports to those OS's. – dirkt Apr 7 '19 at 6:52
  • Something to be aware of is that TurboVision itself did not support multiple compilers or platforms. There was a Pascal version written in Pascal and a separate C++ version written in C++. My recollection is that TurboVision is a productized version of the framework Borland used internally to develop the TP6 IDE. Which explains a bit about why TurboVision was as powerful and well done as it was. (Microsoft had a similar CUA library they bundled with BASIC 7.0, and it was not nearly in the same league.) – mschaef Apr 8 '19 at 14:19
  • @dirkt TV could handle full window management. Curses is just an enabler. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Apr 8 '19 at 16:11

This is not exactly a retro answer:

The modern FreePascal compiler which is available for a lot of platforms (some even considered retro, like Amiga and PalmOS) comes with a library called FreeVision, which is mostly API compatible to Turbo Vision and can be used to port old TurboVision applications to platforms different from pure DOS/IBM PC.

The OpenWatcom compiler includes a TUI library it uses for it's own IDE and debugger.

ncurses for Unix-like OSs can be considered a TUI library as well, it supports forms, windows and menus

  • "whelp cpplib" doesn't show me any classes related to TUI. Any idea what the header files were for this library? – Jeroen Jacobs Apr 6 '19 at 23:47

In the early nineties, magazines carried adverts for a number of TUI libraries, many of them supporting multiple compilers and/or platforms. Examples include Vermont Views, any of the libraries in the “C Screens” section of the Programmer’s Paradise catalog, etc. However none of these captured a large market share, as far as I’m aware, with the possible exception of Turbo Power’s library and C-scape (which supports text and graphics, and is cross-platform).

There were some cross-platform TUIs provided by programming environments which were cross-platform and widely used, at least for bespoke software used in professional settings: the various form generation tools used by databases such as Fox Pro, dBase... Some of these were also available as TUIs or GUIs depending on the platform (e.g. Fox Pro for DOS and Macintosh).

While it doesn’t qualify as either multi-compiler or cross-platform, Visual Basic for DOS included a distinctive TUI library which was briefly popular.

  • What popular applications were written in VB for Dos? – dashnick Apr 7 '19 at 3:26
  • I’m not sure there were any popular commercial applications written in VB for DOS, but I remember seeing a few shareware programs and a number of bespoke applications. – Stephen Kitt Apr 7 '19 at 19:18

There is the famous curses library, originally written for Unix, and its offsprings - most notable in this context PDCurses, available for MS-DOS, MS Windows, OS/2, Unix (X11 and SDL), and on MS-DOS supporting at least Turbo C and Microsoft C.

  • Thanks. I did not know a Curses library was available for DOS/Win/OS2. I'll take a look at this. – Jeroen Jacobs Apr 7 '19 at 8:01

There was also the TesSeRact Screen Designer that I used in the 90s on some projects. https://www.pcorner.com/list/C/TDT-1.ZIP/INFO/


I can't find any retrolinks for it, but my Googlefu isn't always all that strong. I do, however, remember using a cross-platform library called C-Worthy; the company I was working for at the time was doing development on both MS-DOS and CTOS, and we'd ported C-Worthy to CTOS so that we could write once, compile on both platforms, and release the company product on both platforms simultaneously.

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