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 database
int setupterm(char *term, int fildes, int *errret);
int setterm(char *term);
TERMINAL *set_curterm(TERMINAL *nterm);
int del_curterm(TERMINAL *oterm);
int restartterm(char *term, int fildes, int *errret);
char *tparm(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)(char));
int vid_attr(attr_t attrs, short pair, void *opts);
int mvcur(int oldrow, int oldcol, int newrow, int newcol);
int tigetflag(char *capname);
int tigetnum(char *capname);
char *tigetstr(char *capname);
char *tiparm(const char *str, ...);
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 func-
tion keys. For all other functionality, curses routines
are more suitable and their use is recommended.
Initially, setupterm should be called. Note that se-
tupterm is automatically called by initscr and newterm.
This defines the set of terminal-dependent variables
[listed in terminfo(5)]. 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 en-
vironment 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 speci-
fied in the terminfo database are used.
The header files curses.h and term.h should be included
(in this order) to get the definitions for these strings,
numbers, and flags. 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 the reset_shell_mode to restore
the tty modes before exiting [see curs_kernel(3x)]. Pro-
grams which use cursor addressing should output en-
ter_ca_mode upon startup and should output exit_ca_mode
before exiting. Programs desiring shell escapes should
reset_shell_mode and output exit_ca_mode before the shell
is called and should output enter_ca_mode and call re-
set_prog_mode after returning from the shell.
The setupterm routine reads in the terminfo database, ini-
tializing the terminfo structures, but does not set up the
output virtualization structures used by curses. The ter-
minal type is the character string term; if term is null,
the environment variable TERM is used. All output is to
file descriptor fildes which is initialized for output.
If errret is not null, then setupterm returns OK or ERR
and stores a status value in the integer pointed to by er-
rret. 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.
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.
-1 means that the terminfo database could not be
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 std-
The setterm routine is being replaced by setupterm. The
setupterm(term, 1, (int *)0)
provides the same functionality as setterm(term). The
setterm routine is included here for BSD compatibility,
and is not recommended for new programs.
The set_curterm routine sets the variable 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 re-
fer 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). It assumes that the windows
and the input and output options are the same as when mem-
ory was saved, but the terminal type and baud rate may be
different. Accordingly, it saves various tty state bits,
calls setupterm, and then restores the bits.
The tparm routine instantiates the string str with parame-
ters pi. A pointer is returned to the result of str with
the parameters applied.
tiparm is a newer form of tparm which uses <stdarg.h>
rather than a fixed-parameter list. Its numeric parame-
ters are integers (int) rather than longs.
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). Note that
the output of putp always goes to stdout, not to the
fildes specified in setupterm.
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.,
one of type attr_t for the attributes and one of short for
the color_pair number. The vid_attr and vid_puts routines
are designed to use the attribute constants with the WA_
prefix. The opts argument is reserved for future use.
Currently, applications must provide a null pointer for
The mvcur routine provides low-level cursor motion. It
takes effect immediately (rather than at the next re-
The tigetflag, tigetnum and tigetstr routines return the
value of the capability corresponding to the terminfo cap-
name passed to them, such as xenl.
The tigetflag routine returns the value -1 if capname is
not a boolean capability, or 0 if it is canceled or absent
from the terminal description.
The tigetnum routine returns the value -2 if capname is
not a numeric capability, or -1 if it is canceled or ab-
sent from the terminal description.
The tigetstr routine returns the value (char *)-1 if cap-
name is not a string capability, or 0 if it is canceled or
absent from the terminal description.
The capname for each capability is given in the table col-
umn entitled capname code in the capabilities section of
char *boolnames, *boolcodes, *boolfnames
char *numnames, *numcodes, *numfnames
char *strnames, *strcodes, *strfnames
These null-terminated arrays contain the capnames, the
termcap codes, and the full C names, for each of the ter-
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 descriptions.
Routines that return pointers always return NULL on error.
X/Open defines no error conditions. In this implementa-
returns an error if its terminal parameter is
putp calls tputs, returning the same error-codes.
returns an error if the associated call to se-
tupterm returns an error.
returns an error if it cannot allocate enough
memory, or create the initial windows (stdscr,
curscr, newscr). Other error conditions are
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.
The setupterm routine should be used in place of setterm.
It may be useful when you want to test for terminal capa-
bilities without committing to the allocation of storage
involved in initscr.
Note 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 X/Open.
setupterm copies the terminal name to the array ttytype.
This is not part of X/Open Curses, but is assumed by some
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 (*putc)(char).
At least one implementation of X/Open Curses (Solaris) re-
turns a value other than OK/ERR from tputs. That returns
the length of the string, and does no error-checking.
X/Open Curses prototypes tparm with a fixed number of pa-
rameters, rather than a variable argument list. This im-
plementation uses a variable argument list, but can be
configured to use the fixed-parameter list. Portable ap-
plications should provide 9 parameters after the format;
zeroes are fine for this purpose.
In response to comments by Thomas E. Dickey, X/Open Curses
Issue 7 proposed the tiparam function in mid-2009.
X/Open notes that after calling mvcur, the curses state
may not match the actual terminal state, and that an ap-
plication should touch and refresh the window before re-
suming normal curses calls. Both ncurses and System V Re-
lease 4 curses implement mvcur using the SCREEN data allo-
cated in either initscr or newterm. So though it is docu-
mented 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
Extended terminal capability names, e.g., as defined by
tic -x, are not stored in the arrays described in this
curses(3x), curs_initscr(3x), curs_kernel(3x), curs_term-
cap(3x), curs_variables(3x), term_variables(3x), putc(3),
Man(1) output converted with