Just got wind of vim-quickui. It’s an UI library that seems to make sutff so much easier, and (IMO) fills in important feature gaps for TUI modal editors to be fully usable. Is a similar extension possible in Kakoune? In the future (granted I have the time) I may want to give it a try

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A direct equivalent is not possible. You can get away with some simple user interfaces in Kakoune like the plug.kak plugin interface or a checklist but beyond that things are going to get very hairy. Kakoune’s excellent command completion & documentation pop-ups already make it much more discoverable than vim.

I also disagree that TUIs need to be more like GUIs to be usable. Kakoune’s documentation system or emacs-which-key are the correct way to achieve ease-of-use in a TUI. GUIs benefit from being able to visually see all your options, most TUIs suffer from having separate documentation or help screens rather than interactive, as-you-type assistance.

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well, you can implement text based widgets and map mouse clicks to interact with those. I did it for the kaktree plugin - a file tree explorer. It is simply a text buffer, and clicking nodes with mouse simplys selects current text under cursor, and passes it to some command. Same thing can be done with just coordinates, as you can grab those, then analyse what widget is under those coordinates and execute action.

I mean, it’s totally doable, but only in context of a buffer. E.g. you can’t have it on top of the buffer contents, unless you modify buffer to show menu, and restore old state after user action, but it’s indeed tricky to do. The other part, as mentioned by @prion, is that it’s really not necessary, as we have far better (IMO) completion than Vim has, so most of the menuing is redundant.