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user_caps(5)                                                      user_caps(5)


       user_caps - user-defined terminfo capabilities


       tic -x, infocmp -x


       Before  ncurses 5.0, terminfo databases used a fixed repertoire of ter-
       minal capabilities designed for the SVr2 terminal database in 1984, and
       extended  in stages through SVr4 (1989), and standardized in the Single
       Unix Specification beginning in 1995.

       Most of the extensions in this fixed repertoire were additions  to  the
       tables of boolean, numeric and string capabilities.  Rather than change
       the meaning of an existing capability, a new name was added.  The  ter-
       minfo  database  uses a binary format; binary compatibility was ensured
       by using a header which gave the number of items in the tables for each
       type of capability.  The standardization was incomplete:

       o   The binary format itself is not described in the X/Open Curses doc-
           umentation.  Only the source format is described.

           Library developers rely upon the SVr4 documentation,  and  reverse-
           engineering the compiled terminfo files to match the binary format.

       o   Lacking a standard for the binary format, most implementations copy
           the  SVr2  binary format, which uses 16-bit signed integers, and is
           limited to 4096-byte entries.

           The format cannot represent very large  numeric  capabilities,  nor
           can it represent large numbers of special keyboard definitions.

       o   The tables of capability names differ between implementations.

           Although they may provide all of the standard capability names, the
           position in the tables differs because some features were added  as
           needed,  while  others  were  added  (out  of order) to comply with
           X/Open Curses.

           While ncurses' repertoire of predefined capabilities is closest  to
           Solaris, Solaris's terminfo database has a few differences from the
           list published by X/Open Curses.  For example, ncurses can be  con-
           figured with tables which match the terminal databases for AIX, HP-
           UX or OSF/1, rather than the default Solaris-like configuration.

       o   In SVr4 curses and ncurses, the terminal  database  is  defined  at
           compile-time  using  a text file which lists the different terminal

           In principle,  the  text-file  can  be  extended,  but  doing  this
           requires  recompiling  and reinstalling the library.  The text-file
           used in ncurses for terminal capabilities includes details for var-
           ious systems past the documented X/Open Curses features.  For exam-
           ple, ncurses supports these capabilities in each configuration:

                    (meml) lock memory above cursor

                    (memu) unlock memory

                    (box1) box characters primary set

           The memory lock/unlock capabilities were included because they were
           used  in  the X11R6 terminal description for xterm.  The box1 capa-
           bility is used in tic to help with  terminal  descriptions  written
           for AIX.

       During the 1990s, some users were reluctant to use terminfo in spite of
       its performance advantages over termcap:

       o   The fixed repertoire prevented users from adding features for unan-
           ticipated terminal improvements (or required them to reuse existing
           capabilities as a workaround).

       o   The limitation  to  16-bit  signed  integers  was  also  mentioned.
           Because  termcap  stores everything as a string, it could represent
           larger numbers.

       Although termcap's extensibility was rarely  used  (it  was  never  the
       speaker  who had actually used the feature), the criticism had a point.
       ncurses 5.0 provided a way to detect nonstandard  capabilities,  deter-
       mine  their  type and optionally store and retrieve them in a way which
       did not interfere with other applications.  These are  referred  to  as
       user-defined  capabilities  because  no  modifications to the toolset's
       predefined capability names are needed.

       The ncurses utilities tic and infocmp have a command-line  option  "-x"
       to   control   whether  the  nonstandard  capabilities  are  stored  or
       retrieved.  A library function use_extended_names is provided  for  the
       same purpose.

       When  compiling  a  terminal database, if "-x" is set, tic will store a
       user-defined capability if the capability name is not one of the prede-
       fined names.

       Because  ncurses  provides  a  termcap  library  interface, these user-
       defined capabilities may be visible to termcap applications:

       o   The  termcap  interface  (like  all  implementations  of   termcap)
           requires that the capability names are 2-characters.

           When  the capability is simple enough for use in a termcap applica-
           tion, it is provided as a 2-character name.

       o   There are other user-defined capabilities which refer  to  features
           not  usable  in  termcap, e.g., parameterized strings that use more
           than two parameters or use more than the trivial expression support
           provided  by termcap.  For these, the terminfo database should have
           only capability names with 3 or more characters.

       o   Some terminals can send distinct strings for special keys (cursor-,
           keypad-  or  function-keys) depending on modifier keys (shift, con-
           trol, etc.).  While terminfo and termcap have a set  of  60  prede-
           fined  function-key  names,  to  which  a  series  of  keys  can be
           assigned, that is insufficient for more than a  dozen  keys  multi-
           plied  by more than a couple of modifier combinations.  The ncurses
           database uses a convention based on xterm to provide extended  spe-
           cial-key names.

           Fitting  that  into termcap's limitation of 2-character names would
           be pointless.  These extended keys are  available  only  with  ter-

   Recognized capabilities
       The  ncurses  library  uses the user-definable capabilities.  While the
       terminfo database may have other  extensions,  ncurses  makes  explicit
       checks for these:

          AX boolean,  asserts  that the terminal interprets SGR 39 and SGR 49
             by resetting the foreground and background  color,  respectively,
             to the default.

             This is a feature recognized by the screen program as well.

          E3 string,  tells  how  to  clear  the terminal's scrollback buffer.
             When present, the clear(1) program sends this before clearing the

             The command "tput clear" does the same thing.

             boolean,  number  or  string, to assert that the set_a_foreground
             and set_a_background capabilities correspond  to  direct  colors,
             using an RGB (red/green/blue) convention.  This capability allows
             the color_content function to return appropriate  values  without
             requiring  the application to initialize colors using init_color.

             The capability type determines the values which ncurses sees:

                implies that the number of bits for red, green  and  blue  are
                the  same.   Using  the maximum number of colors, ncurses adds
                two, divides that sum by three, and assigns the result to red,
                green and blue in that order.

                If the number of bits needed for the number of colors is not a
                multiple of three, the blue (and  green)  components  lose  in
                comparison to red.

                tells  ncurses  what result to add to red, green and blue.  If
                ncurses runs out of bits, blue (and green) lose just as in the
                boolean case.

                explicitly  list  the  number  of bits used for red, green and
                blue components as a slash-separated list of decimal integers.

             Because  there  are  several  RGB  encodings in use, applications
             which make assumptions about the number of  bits  per  color  are
             unlikely  to  work reliably.  As a trivial case, for example, one
             could define RGB#1 to represent the standard eight  ANSI  colors,
             i.e., one bit per color.

          U8 number,  asserts  that  ncurses must use Unicode values for line-
             drawing characters, and that it should ignore the alternate char-
             acter  set capabilities when the locale uses UTF-8 encoding.  For
             more information, see the discussion  of  NCURSES_NO_UTF8_ACS  in

             Set this capability to a nonzero value to enable it.

          XM string, override ncurses's built-in string which enables/disables
             xterm mouse mode.

             ncurses sends a character sequence to the terminal to  initialize
             mouse  mode,  and  when  the user clicks the mouse buttons or (in
             certain modes) moves the mouse, handles the characters sent  back
             by the terminal to tell it what was done with the mouse.

             The  mouse protocol is enabled when the mask passed in the mouse-
             mask function  is  nonzero.   By  default,  ncurses  handles  the
             responses  for the X11 xterm mouse protocol.  It also knows about
             the SGR 1006 xterm mouse protocol, but must to be  told  to  look
             for  this  specifically.  It will not be able to guess which mode
             is used, because the responses are enough alike that only  confu-
             sion would result.

             The  XM capability has a single parameter.  If nonzero, the mouse
             protocol should be enabled.  If zero, the mouse  protocol  should
             be  disabled.  ncurses inspects this capability if it is present,
             to see whether the 1006 protocol is used.  If so, it expects  the
             responses to use the SGR 1006 xterm mouse protocol.

             The  xterm  mouse  protocol  is used by other terminal emulators.
             The terminal database uses building-blocks for the various  xterm
             mouse protocols which can be used in customized terminal descrip-

             The terminal database building blocks for this mouse feature also
             have   an   experimental  capability  xm.   The  "xm"  capability
             describes the mouse response.  Currently there is no  interpreter
             which  would  use this information to make the mouse support com-
             pletely data-driven.

             xm shows the format of the mouse responses.  In this experimental
             capability, the parameters are

               p1   y-ordinate

               p2   x-ordinate

               p3   button

               p4   state, e.g., pressed or released

               p5   y-ordinate starting region

               p6   x-ordinate starting region

               p7   y-ordinate ending region

               p8   x-ordinate ending region

             Here  are  examples  from the terminal database for the most com-
             monly used xterm mouse protocols:

               xterm+x11mouse|X11 xterm mouse protocol,
                       kmous=\E[M, XM=\E[?1000%?%p1%{1}%=%th%el%;,
                          %?%p4%t%p3%e%{3}%;%' '%+%c

               xterm+sm+1006|xterm SGR-mouse,
                       kmous=\E[<, XM=\E[?1006;1000%?%p1%{1}%=%th%el%;,

   Extended key-definitions
       Several terminals provide the ability to send distinct strings for com-
       binations  of  modified  special  keys.   There is no standard for what
       those keys can send.

       Since 1999, xterm has supported shift, control, alt, and meta modifiers
       which produce distinct special-key strings.  In a terminal description,
       ncurses has no special knowledge of the modifiers  used.   Applications
       can  use the naming convention established for xterm to find these spe-
       cial keys in the terminal description.

       Starting with the curses convention that key names begin with  "k"  and
       that  shifted  special  keys  are  an uppercase name, ncurses' terminal
       database defines these names to which a suffix is added:

            Name   Description
            kDC    special form of kdch1 (delete character)
            kDN    special form of kcud1 (cursor down)
            kEND   special form of kend (End)
            kHOM   special form of khome (Home)
            kLFT   special form of kcub1 (cursor-left or cursor-back)
            kNXT   special form of knext (Next, or Page-Down)
            kPRV   special form of kprev (Prev, or Page-Up)
            kRIT   special form of kcuf1 (cursor-right, or cursor-forward)
            kUP    special form of kcuu1 (cursor-up)

       These are the suffixes used to denote the modifiers:

            Value   Description
            2       Shift
            3       Alt
            4       Shift + Alt
            5       Control
            6       Shift + Control
            7       Alt + Control
            8       Shift + Alt + Control
            9       Meta
            10      Meta + Shift
            11      Meta + Alt
            12      Meta + Alt + Shift
            13      Meta + Ctrl
            14      Meta + Ctrl + Shift
            15      Meta + Ctrl + Alt
            16      Meta + Ctrl + Alt + Shift

       None of these are predefined; terminal descriptions can refer to  names
       which ncurses will allocate at runtime to key-codes.  To use these keys
       in an ncurses program, an application could do this:

       o   using a list of extended key names, ask tigetstr(3X) for their val-
           ues, and

       o   given  the  list  of  values,  ask key_defined(3X) for the key-code
           which would be returned for those keys by wgetch(3X).


       The "-x" extension feature of tic  and  infocmp  has  been  adopted  in
       NetBSD  curses.   That implementation stores user-defined capabilities,
       but makes no use of these capabilities itself.


       infocmp(1M), tic(1M).

       The terminal database section NCURSES USER-DEFINABLE CAPABILITIES  sum-
       marizes  commonly-used  user-defined capabilities which are used in the
       terminal  descriptions.   Some  of  those  features  are  mentioned  in
       screen(1) or tmux(1).

       XTerm  Control Sequences provides further information on the xterm fea-
       tures which are used in these extended capabilities.


       Thomas E. Dickey
       beginning with ncurses 5.0 (1999)


ncurses 6.3 - Generated Thu Nov 18 19:31:24 CST 2021
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