These routines manipulate the current attributes of the named window,
which then apply to all characters that are written into the window
with waddch, waddstr and wprintw. Attributes are a property of the
character, and move with the character through any scrolling and
insert/delete line/character operations. To the extent possible,
they are displayed as appropriate modifications to the graphic
rendition of characters put on the screen.
These routines do not affect the attributes used when erasing
portions of the window. See curs_bkgd(3X) for functions which modify
the attributes used for erasing and clearing.
Routines which do not have a WINDOW* parameter apply to stdscr. For
example, attr_set is the stdscr variant of wattr_set.
There are two sets of functions:
· functions for manipulating the window attributes and color:
wattr_set and wattr_get.
· functions for manipulating only the window attributes (not
color): wattr_on and wattr_off.
The wattr_set function sets the current attributes of the given
window to attrs, with color specified by pair.
Use wattr_get to retrieve attributes for the given window.
Use attr_on and wattr_on to turn on window attributes, i.e., values
OR'd together in attr, without affecting other attributes. Use
attr_off and wattr_off to turn off window attributes, again values
OR'd together in attr, without affecting other attributes.
Legacy window attributes
Most of the window attribute routines are extensions of older
routines which assume that color pairs are OR'd into the attribute
parameter. These older routines use the same name, omitting an
The attrset routine is a legacy feature predating SVr4 curses but
kept in X/Open Curses for the same reason that SVr4 curses kept it:
The remaining attr* functions operate exactly like the corresponding
attr_* functions, except that they take arguments of type int rather
There is no corresponding attrget function as such in X/Open Curses,
although ncurses provides getattrs (see curs_legacy(3X)).
Change character rendition
The routine chgat changes the attributes of a given number of
characters starting at the current cursor location of stdscr. It
does not update the cursor and does not perform wrapping. A
character count of -1 or greater than the remaining window width
means to change attributes all the way to the end of the current
line. The wchgat function generalizes this to any window; the
mvwchgat function does a cursor move before acting.
In these functions, the color pair argument is a color-pair index (as
in the first argument of init_pair, see curs_color(3X)).
Change window color
The routine color_set sets the current color of the given window to
the foreground/background combination described by the color pair
The routine standout is the same as attron(A_STANDOUT). The routine
standend is the same as attrset(A_NORMAL) or attrset(0), that is, it
turns off all attributes.
X/Open does not mark these "restricted", because
· they have well established legacy use, and
· there is no ambiguity about the way the attributes might be
combined with a color pair.
The following video attributes, defined in <curses.h>, can be passed
to the routines attron, attroff, and attrset, or OR'd with the
characters passed to addch (see curs_addch(3X)).
A_NORMAL Normal display (no highlight)
A_STANDOUT Best highlighting mode of the terminal.
A_REVERSE Reverse video
A_DIM Half bright
A_BOLD Extra bright or bold
A_PROTECT Protected mode
A_INVIS Invisible or blank mode
A_ALTCHARSET Alternate character set
A_ITALIC Italics (non-X/Open extension)
A_CHARTEXT Bit-mask to extract a character
These video attributes are supported by attr_on and related functions
(which also support the attributes recognized by attron, etc.):
WA_HORIZONTAL Horizontal highlight
WA_LEFT Left highlight
WA_LOW Low highlight
WA_RIGHT Right highlight
WA_TOP Top highlight
WA_VERTICAL Vertical highlight
The return values of many of these routines are not meaningful (they
are implemented as macro-expanded assignments and simply return their
argument). The SVr4 manual page claims (falsely) that these routines
always return 1.
These functions may be macros:
attroff, wattroff, attron, wattron, attrset, wattrset,
standend and standout.
Color pair values can only be OR'd with attributes if the pair number
is less than 256. The alternate functions such as color_set can pass
a color pair value directly. However, ncurses ABI 4 and 5 simply OR
this value within the alternate functions. You must use ncurses ABI
6 to support more than 256 color pairs.
This implementation provides the A_ITALIC attribute for terminals
which have the enter_italics_mode (sitm) and exit_italics_mode (ritm)
capabilities. Italics are not mentioned in X/Open Curses. Unlike
the other video attributes, A_ITALIC is unrelated to the
set_attributes capabilities. This implementation makes the
assumption that exit_attribute_mode may also reset italics.
Each of the functions added by XSI Curses has a parameter opts, which
X/Open Curses still (after more than twenty years) documents as
reserved for future use, saying that it should be NULL. This
implementation uses that parameter in ABI 6 for the functions which
have a color-pair parameter to support extended color pairs:
· For functions which modify the color, e.g., wattr_set, if opts is
set it is treated as a pointer to int, and used to set the color
pair instead of the short pair parameter.
· For functions which retrieve the color, e.g., wattr_get, if opts
is set it is treated as a pointer to int, and used to retrieve
the color pair as an int value, in addition retrieving it via the
standard pointer to short parameter.
The remaining functions which have opts, but do not manipulate color,
e.g., wattr_on and wattr_off are not used by this implementation
except to check that they are NULL.
These functions are supported in the XSI Curses standard, Issue 4.
The standard defined the dedicated type for highlights, attr_t, which
was not defined in SVr4 curses. The functions taking attr_t
arguments were not supported under SVr4.
Very old versions of this library did not force an update of the
screen when changing the attributes. Use touchwin to force the
screen to match the updated attributes.
The XSI Curses standard states that whether the traditional functions
attron/attroff/attrset can manipulate attributes other than A_BLINK,
A_BOLD, A_DIM, A_REVERSE, A_STANDOUT, or A_UNDERLINE is
"unspecified". Under this implementation as well as SVr4 curses,
these functions correctly manipulate all other highlights
(specifically, A_ALTCHARSET, A_PROTECT, and A_INVIS).
XSI Curses added these entry points:
attr_get, attr_on, attr_off, attr_set, wattr_on, wattr_off,
The new functions are intended to work with a new series of highlight
macros prefixed with WA_. The older macros have direct counterparts
in the newer set of names:
WA_NORMAL Normal display (no highlight)
WA_STANDOUT Best highlighting mode of the terminal.
WA_REVERSE Reverse video
WA_DIM Half bright
WA_BOLD Extra bright or bold
WA_ALTCHARSET Alternate character set
The XSI curses standard specifies that each pair of corresponding A_
and WA_-using functions operates on the same current-highlight
The XSI standard extended conformance level adds new highlights
A_HORIZONTAL, A_LEFT, A_LOW, A_RIGHT, A_TOP, A_VERTICAL (and
corresponding WA_ macros for each). As of August 2013, no known
terminal provides these highlights (i.e., via the sgr1 capability).
All routines return the integer OK on success, or ERR on failure.
X/Open does not define any error conditions.
· returns an error if the window pointer is null.
· returns an error if the color pair parameter for wcolor_set is
outside the range 0..COLOR_PAIRS-1.
· does not return an error if either of the parameters of wattr_get
used for retrieving attribute or color-pair values is NULL.
Functions with a "mv" prefix first perform a cursor movement using
wmove, and return an error if the position is outside the window, or
if the window pointer is null.
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