Using “dialog” for Nice, Easy, C-Based Console Dialogs

dialog is a great command-line-based dialog tool that let’s you construct twenty-three types of dialog screens, that resemble the best of any available dialog utilities.

It’s as simple as running the following from the command-line:

dialog --yesno "Yes or no, please." 6 30

Very few of the users of dialog probably know that it can be statically linked to provide the same functionality in a C application. It doesn’t help that there is almost no documentation on the subject.

This is an example of how to create a “yesno” dialog:

#include <curses.h>
#include <dialog.h>

int main()
    int rc;
    init_dialog(stdin, stderr);
    rc = dialog_yesno("title", "message", 0, 0);

    return rc;

I explicitly pre-include curses.h so dialog.h won’t go looking in the wrong place. It might be different in your situation.

To build:

gcc -o example example.c -L dialogpath -I dialogpath -ldialog -lncurses -lm

Just configure and build your dialog sources, and then use that path in the make line, above.

This program will return an integer representing which button was pressed (true/0, false/1), or whether the dialog was cancelled with ESC (255).