Re: What's the status of ncurses now?

From: Thomas E. Dickey <>
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 1997 12:18:57 -0400 (EDT)

> Over in the FreeBSD camp, we're hearing all kinds of horror stories
> of disputed copyrights and worse, so I figured I'd come over here
> and ask a group of folks a little closer to the source.
We're working through the (slow) stages of changing to new management (by
adding a 5th person to the group) and have agreed (in principal, if not in
writing) to change copyrights to one much like the X Consortium's (so once
done, there presumably won't be any quarrels).
> There has also been some concern expressed about the direction in
> which ncurses appears to be going - more and more features which
> deviate a fair bit from the original "curses mandate" to provide a
> straight-forward screen I/O library, the most complex object in
> which would be the "window" and anything else being layered on top
> (in a different library).
well, that's horror stories. They're more interesting than the facts.
(We're referring to a thread in one of the newsgroups based on an obsolete
version of ncurses released almost 3 years ago).

Ncurses is a clone of SVr4 curses. The core library happens to be
'standardized' in the form of an X/Open (or whatever the parent org is this
year) draft specification that basically recapitulates the SVr4
documentation. Ncurses is based on this (i.e., as nearly as we're able
by testing and analysis, it is compatible with SVr4 curses). There are a
small number of extensions (about 1% of the functions listed in the
binding, though 3% of the source) - things that cannot be done via layers.
On SVr4 (and a couple of other platforms), other libraries are bundled
with curses: forms/menus/panels. Ncurses implements these - but they
are add-ons (separate libraries). They're layered on top of ncurses
library (and I don't recall anyplace where the ncurses library is 'aware'
of the upper layers).

Bundling the extra libraries 'violates' layering about as much as the
similar bundling of the terminfo source.

Thomas E. Dickey
Received on Tue Jun 24 1997 - 12:18:57 EDT

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