:  WordGrinder


a word processor for processing words

Published: 2016 November 3

New! v0.6 released! This is a massive new update: lots of bug fixes, lots of performance improvements, lots of new features --- and now runs on OSX!


WordGrinder is a Unicode-aware character cell word processor that runs in a terminal (or a Windows console). It is designed to get the hell out of your way and let you get some work done.

Perhaps you'd like to see some screenshots?

Screenshot #1

WordGrinder is a word processor for processing words. It is not WYSIWYG. It is not point and click. It is not a desktop publisher. It is not a text editor. It does not do fonts and it barely does styles. What it does do is words. It's designed for writing text. It gets out of your way and lets you type.

The author wrote it to have something to write novels on.

Features you might like:

  • Ultra-clean, uncluttered display.
  • Looks good even on a terminal.
  • Runs in a Unix terminal, or in X11, or on Windows, or on OSX
  • Single- and double-width Unicode character support. No right-to-left or combining characters, unfortunately, but everything else should work.
  • Intuitive, friendly menu system and fast-access keyboard shortcuts. The keyboard shortcuts are all configurable from within WordGrinder.
  • Configuration settings get saved automatically in your document.
  • Just enough character and paragraph style support to let you get the job done, while not enough to let you waste time configuring them.
  • Basic spellchecker support.
  • Undo and redo.
  • Smart quotes.
  • Traditional navigation and selection controls.
  • Multiple documents in a single file.
  • OpenDocument import and export.
  • HTML import and export.
  • LaTeX, Troff and MarkDown export.
  • Small and efficient codebase. (20000 lines of code!)

Disclaimer: WordGrinder is beta software. It's under development and it has bugs. While it seems pretty solid in the author's experience, if you use it for real data it will probably crash, wipe it all, and shoot your dog. Use and enjoy, but with care.


WordGrinder is hosted on GitHub.

If you want assistance, or wish to make comments, suggestions, feature requests or simpy want to talk about it, then you're welcome to join the mailing list.


Note to Windows users: this section only applies if you want to compile WordGrinder from source, which you probably don't.

WordGrinder is written in a combination of C and Lua. This means you have to have Lua installed if you want to compile it. It also makes extensive use of Unicode, which means you'll need a Unicode-aware version of ncurses. Full instructions are included in the README.

When building for Windows, use the command line build from MSYS. Cross- compilation from Linux is no longer supported, unfortunately.

Depending on whether your OS has them packaged for you, you may need to compile the following packages:

Debian and Ubuntu have all the necessary requirements pre-packaged. (That's what the author wrote it on.)

What's new?

Version 0.6: 2015-09-23: New X11 frontend (actual bold and italic on Linux machines!); shift+cursor keys starts a selection; more HTML emission fixes; non-document persistent settings; global key maps (currently via a configurationfile); search works properly across words with markup; italic display in a terminal (if you have a new enough version of ncurses); more traditional charstyle selection (you can press ^B at the beginning of words now!); more traditional selection model (shift+cursor keys works now!); fix crash on loading very large .wg files; smart quote support; more efficient files; undo and redo; spellchecker; colour configuration on X11 and Windows; MarkDown export.

Version 2015-02-18: Minor bugfixes: build system fixes; updated minizip to a version which builds better on Ubuntu; OSX Homebrew build system; delete word; subsection counts now correct; HTML PRE emission issue corrected.

Version 0.5.1: 2013-12-06: Major overhaul: fixed hideous file corruption bug; much improved Windows text renderer; bold; page count; widescreen mode; UI style overhaul; many other minor bugfixes. Many thanks to Connor Karatzas for extensive Windows testing.

Version 0.4.1: 2013-04-14: Minor bugfixes and build optimisation in aid of the Debian package.

Version 0.4: 2013-03-24: Major overhaul: OpenDocument import/export, new much smaller file format, a proper Windows port, updated to Lua 5.2, switched away from Prime Mover to make (sob), much bug fixage.

Version 0.3.3, 2009-12-13: Fixed a bug when searching for or replacing strings containing multiple whitespace characters (that was triggering the crash handler). Thanks to lostnbronx for the report. Added RAW and PRE paragraph styles. Cleaned up HTML import. Add customisability to HTML export. Relicensed to MIT.

Version 0.3.2, 2008-11-03: Fixed a very simple and very stupid typo that caused a crash if you tried to turn autosave on. Added a simple exception handler to try and prevent data loss on error in the future.

Version 0.3.1, 2008-09-08: Minor bugfix revision to correct a few minor but really embarrassing crashes in 0.3: no crash on HTML import, no crash on File->New. Also some minor cosmetic fixes I noticed while doing the work.

Version 0.3, 2008-09-07: New version released with a silly number of bug fixes, and lots of new features (like the table of contents, the scrapbook, the autosaver, etc). Also a Windows version.

Version 0.2, 2008-01-13: New version released with many, many bug fixes, and a few new features (like a running word count).

Version 0.1, 2007-10-14: First useful release!


WordGrinder was written by David Given. The program is freely distributable under the terms of the MIT License.