I have a very simple program/piece of software in mind, but I don't know if it exists or - if it does - how to search for it.

I see this being used as a tool for creative writing or improv exercises or for any sort of random generation.

In creating a page/file/document one would

(1) set the number of sequential text boxes,

(2) label each box,

(3) and provide a list of possible entries for each box.

Then after this is set up, upon hitting a button, each text box would be randomly filled with an entry from its respective list. And this can be repeated.

For example, in "people in places doing things" we could have 3 boxes: "profession", "location", and "activity". And after loading in appropriate lists to each of the boxes we might generate "Lion tamer - gym - swimming" or "police constable - post office - arguing", and so on.

What is this sort of program called - if anything? Does it exist (in Windows)?

This could be something incredibly bare-bones and basic. I imagine there might be something like this related to study programs, where one can randomly generate practice questions, French vocab to learn, etc.


I recommend you use Gnumeric (or any other spread-sheet program). Its function is most likely known to you and it serves that purpose well.

The key here is that you need to know the appropriate function names. They differ slightly between programs so you need to look it up for Open/Libre/Microsoft Office if you don't like Gnumeric.

You then start by adding the possibilities to the first columns and either on the same tab or on a new one reference the possibilities like this:


The index function references the value of a given range. A30 is the last entry of my list that has a value. The second argument just creates a random number between 2 and 30. The first row holds the title so this function randomly selects one entry from that list.

You can use further functions to find the last value in a column that still has a value to allow you to dynamically increase your list of possibilities.

So to answer your question: I don't think a dedicated program exists for that purpose as it can be solved easily for everyone in need on the fly and every programming language has build in capabilities for this so every programmer in need of that function would not write an own program for it.

I use Gnumeric for this specific purpose for a P&P Roleplaying Game where I need to generate random monsters, people, personalities, names, loot, events etc. I once wrote a headline generator with this function, although I've lost that sheet unfortunately.

Why Gnumeric but not Open/Libre/Microsoft Office? Its (at least on linux) way faster than Open/Libre Office but does not bring the cost of Microsoft. Its lightweight and looks exactly as the old Excel that is known to so many people. Its actively developed and I found it to do everything I ever wanted to do with a spread sheet program.

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