Back in the olden days of personal computing [the mid 1980s ], several software firms like Ashton Tate, Borland, Lotus and others had come up with great GUI apps that ran in character mode on Apple and PC screens. These GUIs sported all our contemporary widgets and components like menus, grids, panels, popup forms and windows, styling templates, etc. These character mode interfaces were blazingly fast, easy to use and doomed to extinction because the two most popular OS vendors [Apple and Microsoft] wanted to create and popularize bitmap oriented GUI-driven OS Right Away. But this neophyte developer predicted that the speed and utility of the character mode GUIs would keep them alive for petal to the metal systems programming.
Fast forward 30 years later and in Microsoft Windows 10 there is a command line GUI:
Not courtesy of Microsoft but rather Far Manager. provides character mode GUI Goodness for Web developers. And it is free. So now all those Windows developers who have to contend with node.js, grunt, SASS, and a thousand one command line Web tools, here is character mode GUI Goodness from yesteryear that gets those command line jobs done swiftly and easily.
First thing about Far is that it uses both the mouse and touchscreen operations. It also has a fullscreen mode of operation [click the enlarge icon in Windows command bar]making the cramped space of the traditional CMD Window a thing of the past. However, the choice is full screen or cramped Window for CMD mode. The second most important thing about navigating around Far is that just about all Windows command keys are available in Far. This means the bottom strip of commands can be accessed by mouse, touchscreen [if your PC is so enabled and by the classic F1 thru F12 function keys.
Of the function keys, F9 is most important because it brings up Far’s dropdown menus as seen in the screenshot above. These five menu items unlock the full range of Far commands available to the user. Suffice it to say that Far brings all of Windows CMD options plus a whole range of free Far plugins which further extends Far features. Thi Web developer appreciates having a full screen file editor [F4 key press]:
But Wait – There is More
There are a number of other GUI oriented tools that help automate the CMD prompt in Windows. Here are two of particular interest. First there is PowerCMD which brings multiple CMD prompt panels:
This is very useful when working with several utilities like node.js, grunt, Powershell, Bash etc. Each can now be apart of a CMD panel as seen in the screenshot above.and its is easy moving between CMD prompts. better, PowerCMD supports Windows text editing in each CMD panel with Cut, Copy, Paste, and Select operations within and between CMD panels. PowerCMD adds history, bookmarking, autocompletion of sub-directory choices, serach bar with highlighting, and other features.
One missing feature in PowerCMD is the lack of a fullscreen editor like in Far; rather PowerCMD relies on the called command utility to provide such services. PowerCMD costs $29.95 while packing a range of additional customization features.
The second CMD utility of interest is ConEmu which provides many of the features of PowerCMD but also works with Far, Putty and other character mode GUIs:
Just like PowerCMD users can divide up their ConEmu session into several CMD prompt panels – and those panels can not only have CMD prompt screens but also Windows GUI apps embedded into them as seen in this screen shot.
From the ability to resize the CMD window anyway you want to overlapping and tiled CMD panels thru to embeded Windows and CMD prompt panels, ConEmu provides a versatile Web and software development tool. for the heavy lifting with command prompt for software and Web development. For example, now SASS and LESS file usage for CSS styling is fast and easy.
In general, ConEmuu is extremely feature rich as seen in this video.However, there are so many options and customizing features available, users should plan on a substantial learning curve to get precisely what they want out of ConEmu especially coupled with Far Manager. But the overall advantage is that working down at the Command Line Prompt no longer needs to be drudgery. Thus this free software combo of ConEmu app and Far Manager provide command line editing with substantial oomph for getting hard core, petal to the metal software and Web development work done.