Console-friendly HTML


I was asked in a recent podcast which tools I'd like to see on the command line. At the time, without too much thought, I answered that I'm still looking for the perfect email client – something like Mutt but with native Vim bindings and a modern, semantic searchable back end. But what I really should have said was that I wanted a modern web browser for the terminal. The reason why I didn't think about this is because web browsers have become so far removed from what the command line offers that creating a fully functional command-line browser seems untenable. Of course, there are options like Lynx and w3m, but they're more useful when you can't access your desktop and need to download some web-based drivers, rather than being full-fledged replacements. What we really need is a classic desktop browser built for the command line, and that possibility still seems far off.

Readability-cli isn't a classic desktop browser built for the command line, but it is an important step towards making it a reality. As keen readers will know, Readability is a Firefox function that removes all extraneous content from a web page to leave only the pure content. This content is then presented through the Readability interface much like an ebook, and it's a brilliant function for distraction-free reading. readability-cli performs the same function, using Mozilla's Readability library to generate distraction-free HTML from either a URL or the standard input, which you can then either save or pipe into your favorite terminal web browser. It works brilliantly; because it's not directly interactive, it helps you avoid the temptation of clicking on other links – even when those links are maintained and passed through to the output – keeping your focus on the page you really wish to read.

Project Website

When combined with a console that can embed images, web browsing from the command line is almost better than with a GUI.

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