package minttea

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  2. Docs
A fun, functional, and stateful way to build terminal apps in OCaml heavily inspired by Go's BubbleTea


Dune Dependency






A longer description


tui terminal-ui framework riot

Published: 29 Dec 2023


Mint Tea

Mint Tea Logo

A fun, functional, and stateful way to build terminal apps in OCaml heavily inspired by BubbleTea. MintTea is built on Riot and uses The Elm Architecture.


Mint Tea is based on the functional paradigm of The Elm Architecture, which works great with OCaml. It's a delightful way to build applications.

This tutorial assumes you have a working knowledge of OCaml.

Getting Started

For this tutorial, we're making a shopping list.

We'll start by defining our dune-project file:

(lang dune 3.12)

And a dune file for our executable:

  (name shop)
  (libraries minttea))

Then we need to pin the minttea package to the github source:

$ opam install minttea

Opam will do some work installing minttea from the github source.

We can run dune build to validate the package has been installed correctly.

Great, now we can create a new file and start by opening up Minttea:

open Minttea

Mint Tea programs are composed of a model that describes the application state, and tree simple functions:

  • init, a function that returns the initial commands for the application to run

  • update a function that handles incoming events and updates the model accordingly

  • view, a function that renders the UI based no the data in the model

The Model

We'll start by creating a type for our model. This type can be anything you want, just remember that it must hold your entire application state.

type model = {
  (* the choices that will be used and whether they are selected or unselected *)
  choices : (string * [ `selected | `unselected ]) list;
  (* the current position of the cursor *)
  cursor : int;


Next up, we'll create our initial_model function. If creating this initial state is too expensive, we could make it a function too, so we can call it when we need to start the application.

let initial_model =
    cursor = 0;
    choices =
        ("Buy empanadas 🥟", `unselected);
        ("Buy carrots 🥕", `unselected);
        ("Buy cupcakes 🧁", `unselected);

Next we will define our init function. This function takes the initial state and returns a Mint Tea Command that kicks off the application. This can be going into fullscreen, setting up timers, or just nothing.

In this case we do nothing:

let init _model = Command.Noop

The Update Function

The interesting part of any TEA application is always how it updates the model based off incoming events. In Mint Tea things aren't any different. The update function gets called whenever "things happen" – this could be a key press, a timer going off, or even every rendering frame. There is even the possibility of using custom events.

let update event model =
  match event with
  (* if we press `q` or the escape key, we exit *)
  | Event.KeyDown (Key "q" | Escape) -> (model, Command.Quit)
  (* if we press up or `k`, we move up in the list *)
  | Event.KeyDown (Up | Key "k") ->
      let cursor =
        if model.cursor = 0 then List.length model.choices - 1
        else model.cursor - 1
      ({ model with cursor }, Command.Noop)
  (* if we press down or `j`, we move down in the list *)
  | Event.KeyDown (Down | Key "j") ->
      let cursor =
        if model.cursor = List.length model.choices - 1 then 0
        else model.cursor + 1
      ({ model with cursor }, Command.Noop)
  (* when we press enter or space we toggle the item in the list
     that the cursor points to *)
  | Event.KeyDown (Enter | Space) ->
      let toggle status =
        match status with `selected -> `unselected | `unselected -> `selected
      let choices =
          (fun idx (name, status) ->
            let status = if idx = model.cursor then toggle status else status in
            (name, status))
      ({ model with choices }, Command.Noop)
  (* for all other events, we do nothing *)
  | _ -> (model, Command.Noop)

You may have noticed the special command Quit up there. This command tells Mint Tea that its time for the application to shutdown.

The View Method

Finally, we need to render our TUI. For that we define a little view method that takes our model and creates a string. That string is our TUI!

Because the view describes the entire UI of your application, you don't have to worry about redrawing logic or things like that. Mint Tea takes care of it for you.

let view model =
  (* we create our options by mapping over them *)
  let options =
    |> List.mapi (fun idx (name, checked) ->
           let cursor = if model.cursor = idx then ">" else " " in
           let checked = if checked = `selected then "x" else " " in
           Format.sprintf "%s [%s] %s" cursor checked name)
    |> String.concat "\n"
  (* and we send the UI for rendering! *)
What should we buy at the market?


Press q to quit.

  |} options

All Together Now

The last step is to simply run our program. We build our Mint Tea application by calling ~init ~update ~view () and we can start it by calling Minttea.start app ~initial_model

let app = ~init ~update ~view ()
let () = Minttea.start app ~initial_model

We can now run our application:

$ dune exec ./shop.exe

And we get our lovely little TUI app:

What's Next?

This tutorial covers the very basics of building an interactive terminal UI with Mint Tea, but in the real world you'll also need to perform I/O.

You can also check our other examples to see more ways in which you can build your TUIs.

Libraries to use with Mint Tea

  • Leaves: Common Mint Tea components to get you started

  • Spices: style, format, and layout tools for terminal applications

Dependencies (4)

  1. tty >= "0.0.2"
  2. riot = "0.0.5"
  3. ocaml >= "5.1"
  4. dune >= "3.11"

Dev Dependencies (2)

  1. odoc with-doc
  2. mdx with-test & >= "2.3.1"

Used by (1)

  1. leaves >= "0.0.2"