curs_terminfo(3X)                                          curs_terminfo(3X)

NAME         top

       del_curterm, mvcur, putp, restartterm, set_curterm, setterm,
       setupterm, tigetflag, tigetnum, tigetstr, tiparm, tparm, tputs,
       vid_attr, vid_puts, vidattr, vidputs - curses interfaces to terminfo

SYNOPSIS         top

       #include <curses.h>
       #include <term.h>

       TERMINAL *cur_term;

       const char * const boolnames[];
       const char * const boolcodes[];
       const char * const boolfnames[];
       const char * const numnames[];
       const char * const numcodes[];
       const char * const numfnames[];
       const char * const strnames[];
       const char * const strcodes[];
       const char * const strfnames[];

       int setupterm(const char *term, int filedes, int *errret);
       int setterm(const char *term);
       TERMINAL *set_curterm(TERMINAL *nterm);
       int del_curterm(TERMINAL *oterm);
       int restartterm(const char *term, int filedes, int *errret);

       char *tparm(const char *str, ...);
       int tputs(const char *str, int affcnt, int (*putc)(int));
       int putp(const char *str);

       int vidputs(chtype attrs, int (*putc)(int));
       int vidattr(chtype attrs);
       int vid_puts(attr_t attrs, short pair, void *opts, int (*putc)(int));
       int vid_attr(attr_t attrs, short pair, void *opts);

       int mvcur(int oldrow, int oldcol, int newrow, int newcol);

       int tigetflag(const char *capname);
       int tigetnum(const char *capname);
       char *tigetstr(const char *capname);

       char *tiparm(const char *str, ...);

DESCRIPTION         top

       These low-level routines must be called by programs that have to deal
       directly with the terminfo database to handle certain terminal
       capabilities, such as programming function keys.  For all other
       functionality, curses routines are more suitable and their use is

       Initially, setupterm should be called.  The high-level curses
       functions initscr and newterm call setupterm to initialize the low-
       level set of terminal-dependent variables [listed in terminfo(5)].

       Applications can use the terminal capabilities either directly (via
       header definitions), or by special functions.  The header files
       curses.h and term.h should be included (in this order) to get the
       definitions for these strings, numbers, and flags.

       The terminfo variables lines and columns are initialized by setupterm
       as follows:

       ·   If use_env(FALSE) has been called, values for lines and columns
           specified in terminfo are used.

       ·   Otherwise, if the environment variables LINES and COLUMNS exist,
           their values are used.  If these environment variables do not
           exist and the program is running in a window, the current window
           size is used.  Otherwise, if the environment variables do not
           exist, the values for lines and columns specified in the terminfo
           database are used.

       Parameterized strings should be passed through tparm to instantiate
       them.  All terminfo strings [including the output of tparm] should be
       printed with tputs or putp.  Call reset_shell_mode to restore the tty
       modes before exiting [see curs_kernel(3X)].

       Programs which use cursor addressing should

       ·   output enter_ca_mode upon startup and

       ·   output exit_ca_mode before exiting.

       Programs which execute shell subprocesses should

       ·   call reset_shell_mode and output exit_ca_mode before the shell is
           called and

       ·   output enter_ca_mode and call reset_prog_mode after returning
           from the shell.

       The setupterm routine reads in the terminfo database, initializing
       the terminfo structures, but does not set up the output
       virtualization structures used by curses.  These are its parameters:

          term is the terminal type, a character string.  If term is null,
               the environment variable TERM is used.

               is the file descriptor used for all output.

               points to an optional location where an error status can be
               returned to the caller.  If errret is not null, then
               setupterm returns OK or ERR and stores a status value in the
               integer pointed to by errret.  A return value of OK combined
               with status of 1 in errret is normal.

               If ERR is returned, examine errret:

               1    means that the terminal is hardcopy, cannot be used for
                    curses applications.

                    setupterm determines if the entry is a hardcopy type by
                    checking the hc (hardcopy) capability.

               0    means that the terminal could not be found, or that it
                    is a generic type, having too little information for
                    curses applications to run.

                    setupterm determines if the entry is a generic type by
                    checking the gn (generic) capability.

               -1   means that the terminfo database could not be found.

               If errret is null, setupterm prints an error message upon
               finding an error and exits.  Thus, the simplest call is:

                     setupterm((char *)0, 1, (int *)0);,

               which uses all the defaults and sends the output to stdout.

       The setterm routine was replaced by setupterm.  The call:

             setupterm(term, 1, (int *)0)

       provides the same functionality as setterm(term).  The setterm
       routine is provided for BSD compatibility, and is not recommended for
       new programs.

   The Terminal State
       The setupterm routine stores its information about the terminal in a
       TERMINAL structure pointed to by the global variable cur_term.  If it
       detects an error, or decides that the terminal is unsuitable
       (hardcopy or generic), it discards this information, making it not
       available to applications.

       If setupterm is called repeatedly for the same terminal type, it will
       reuse the information.  It maintains only one copy of a given
       terminal's capabilities in memory.  If it is called for different
       terminal types, setupterm allocates new storage for each set of
       terminal capabilities.

       The set_curterm routine sets cur_term to nterm, and makes all of the
       terminfo boolean, numeric, and string variables use the values from
       nterm.  It returns the old value of cur_term.

       The del_curterm routine frees the space pointed to by oterm and makes
       it available for further use.  If oterm is the same as cur_term,
       references to any of the terminfo boolean, numeric, and string
       variables thereafter may refer to invalid memory locations until
       another setupterm has been called.

       The restartterm routine is similar to setupterm and initscr, except
       that it is called after restoring memory to a previous state (for
       example, when reloading a game saved as a core image dump).
       restartterm assumes that the windows and the input and output options
       are the same as when memory was saved, but the terminal type and baud
       rate may be different.  Accordingly, restartterm saves various tty
       state bits, calls setupterm, and then restores the bits.

   Formatting Output
       The tparm routine instantiates the string str with parameters pi.  A
       pointer is returned to the result of str with the parameters applied.
       Application developers should keep in mind these quirks of the

       ·   Although tparm's actual parameters may be integers or strings,
           the prototype expects long (integer) values.

       ·   Aside from the set_attributes (sgr) capability, most terminal
           capabilities require no more than one or two parameters.

       tiparm is a newer form of tparm which uses <stdarg.h> rather than a
       fixed-parameter list.  Its numeric parameters are integers (int)
       rather than longs.

   Output Functions
       The tputs routine applies padding information to the string str and
       outputs it:

       ·   The str must be a terminfo string variable or the return value
           from tparm, tgetstr, or tgoto.

       ·   affcnt is the number of lines affected, or 1 if not applicable.

       ·   putc is a putchar-like routine to which the characters are
           passed, one at a time.

       The putp routine calls tputs(str, 1, putchar).  The output of putp
       always goes to stdout, rather than the filedes specified in

       The vidputs routine displays the string on the terminal in the video
       attribute mode attrs, which is any combination of the attributes
       listed in curses(3X).  The characters are passed to the putchar-like
       routine putc.

       The vidattr routine is like the vidputs routine, except that it
       outputs through putchar.

       The vid_attr and vid_puts routines correspond to vidattr and vidputs,
       respectively.  They use a set of arguments for representing the video
       attributes plus color, i.e.,

       ·   attrs of type attr_t for the attributes and

       ·   pair of type short for the color-pair number.

       The vid_attr and vid_puts routines are designed to use the attribute
       constants with the WA_ prefix.

       X/Open Curses reserves the opts argument for future use, saying that
       applications must provide a null pointer for that argument.  As an
       extension, this implementation allows opts to be used as a pointer to
       int, which overrides the pair (short) argument.

       The mvcur routine provides low-level cursor motion.  It takes effect
       immediately (rather than at the next refresh).

   Terminal Capability Functions
       The tigetflag, tigetnum and tigetstr routines return the value of the
       capability corresponding to the terminfo capname passed to them, such
       as xenl.  The capname for each capability is given in the table
       column entitled capname code in the capabilities section of

       These routines return special values to denote errors.

       The tigetflag routine returns

       -1     if capname is not a boolean capability, or

       0      if it is canceled or absent from the terminal description.

       The tigetnum routine returns

       -2     if capname is not a numeric capability, or

       -1     if it is canceled or absent from the terminal description.

       The tigetstr routine returns

       (char *)-1
              if capname is not a string capability, or

       0      if it is canceled or absent from the terminal description.

   Terminal Capability Names
       These null-terminated arrays contain

       ·   the short terminfo names (“codes”),

       ·   the termcap names (“names”, and

       ·   the long terminfo names (“fnames”)

       for each of the predefined terminfo variables:

              const char *boolnames[], *boolcodes[], *boolfnames[]
              const char *numnames[], *numcodes[], *numfnames[]
              const char *strnames[], *strcodes[], *strfnames[]

RETURN VALUE         top

       Routines that return an integer return ERR upon failure and OK (SVr4
       only specifies “an integer value other than ERR”) upon successful
       completion, unless otherwise noted in the preceding routine

       Routines that return pointers always return NULL on error.

       X/Open defines no error conditions.  In this implementation

               returns an error if its terminal parameter is null.

          putp calls tputs, returning the same error-codes.

               returns an error if the associated call to setupterm returns
               an error.

               returns an error if it cannot allocate enough memory, or
               create the initial windows (stdscr, curscr, newscr).  Other
               error conditions are documented above.

               returns an error if the string parameter is null.  It does
               not detect I/O errors: X/Open states that tputs ignores the
               return value of the output function putc.

PORTABILITY         top

   Legacy functions
       X/Open notes that vidattr and vidputs may be macros.

       The function setterm is not described by X/Open and must be
       considered non-portable.  All other functions are as described by

   Legacy data
       setupterm copies the terminal name to the array ttytype.  This is not
       part of X/Open Curses, but is assumed by some applications.

       Other implementions may not declare the capability name arrays.  Some
       provide them without declaring them.  X/Open does not specify them.

       Extended terminal capability names, e.g., as defined by @TIC@ -x, are
       not stored in the arrays described here.

   Output buffering
       Older versions of ncurses assumed that the file descriptor passed to
       setupterm from initscr or newterm uses buffered I/O, and would write
       to the corresponding stream.  In addition to the limitation that the
       terminal was left in block-buffered mode on exit (like System V
       curses), it was problematic because ncurses did not allow a reliable
       way to cleanup on receiving SIGTSTP.

       The current version (ncurses6) uses output buffers managed directly
       by ncurses.  Some of the low-level functions described in this manual
       page write to the standard output.  They are not signal-safe.  The
       high-level functions in ncurses use alternate versions of these
       functions using the more reliable buffering scheme.

   Function prototypes
       The X/Open Curses prototypes are based on the SVr4 curses header
       declarations, which were defined at the same time the C language was
       first standardized in the late 1980s.

       ·   X/Open Curses uses const less effectively than a later design
           might, in some cases applying it needlessly to values are already
           constant, and in most cases overlooking parameters which normally
           would use const.  Using constant parameters for functions which
           do not use const may prevent the program from compiling.  On the
           other hand, writable strings are an obsolescent feature.

           As an extension, this implementation can be configured to change
           the function prototypes to use the const keyword.  The ncurses
           ABI 6 enables this feature by default.

       ·   X/Open Curses prototypes tparm with a fixed number of parameters,
           rather than a variable argument list.

           This implementation uses a variable argument list, but can be
           configured to use the fixed-parameter list.  Portable
           applications should provide 9 parameters after the format; zeroes
           are fine for this purpose.

           In response to review comments by Thomas E. Dickey, X/Open Curses
           Issue 7 proposed the tiparm function in mid-2009.

   Special TERM treatment
       If configured to use the terminal-driver, e.g., for the MinGW port,

       ·   setupterm interprets a missing/empty TERM variable as the special
           value “unknown”.

       ·   setupterm allows explicit use of the the windows console driver
           by checking if $TERM is set to “#win32con” or an abbreviation of
           that string.

   Other portability issues
       In System V Release 4, set_curterm has an int return type and returns
       OK or ERR.  We have chosen to implement the X/Open Curses semantics.

       In System V Release 4, the third argument of tputs has the type int

       At least one implementation of X/Open Curses (Solaris) returns a
       value other than OK/ERR from tputs.  That returns the length of the
       string, and does no error-checking.

       X/Open notes that after calling mvcur, the curses state may not match
       the actual terminal state, and that an application should touch and
       refresh the window before resuming normal curses calls.  Both ncurses
       and System V Release 4 curses implement mvcur using the SCREEN data
       allocated in either initscr or newterm.  So though it is documented
       as a terminfo function, mvcur is really a curses function which is
       not well specified.

       X/Open states that the old location must be given for mvcur.  This
       implementation allows the caller to use -1's for the old ordinates.
       In that case, the old location is unknown.

SEE ALSO         top

       curses(3X), curs_initscr(3X), curs_kernel(3X), curs_termcap(3X),
       curs_variables(3X), term_variables(3X), putc(3), terminfo(5)

COLOPHON         top

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