user_caps 5

user_caps(5)                  File Formats Manual                 user_caps(5)


       user_caps - user-defined terminfo capabilities


       tic -x, infocmp -x



       Before  ncurses  5.0,  terminfo  databases  used  a fixed repertoire of
       terminal 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
       terminfo  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
           documentation.  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
           configured 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
           various systems past the documented X/Open  Curses  features.   For
           example, 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(1).   The  box1
           capability  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
           unanticipated 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,
       determine 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
       predefined 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
           application, 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,
           control,  etc.).   While  terminfo  and  termcap  have  a set of 60
           predefined function-key names, to which a series  of  keys  can  be
           assigned,   that  is  insufficient  for  more  than  a  dozen  keys
           multiplied by more than a couple  of  modifier  combinations.   The
           ncurses  database  uses  a  convention based on xterm(1) to provide
           extended special-key names.

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

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.

          NQ used to suppress a consistency  check  in  tic  for  the  ncurses
             capabilities  in  user6  through  user9 (u6, u7, u8 and u9) which
             tell how to query the terminal's cursor position and  its  device

             boolean,   number   or   string,   used   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
             character set capabilities when the locale uses  UTF-8  encoding.
             For  more  information, see the discussion of NCURSES_NO_UTF8_ACS
             in ncurses(3x).

             Set this capability to a nonzero value to enable it.

          XM string, override ncurses's built-in string which enables/disables
             xterm(1) 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
             mousemask  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
             confusion 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

             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
             completely 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
             commonly 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
       combinations of modified special keys.  There is no standard  for  what
       those keys can send.

       Since  1999,  xterm(1)  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 special 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
           values, 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
       summarizes 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(1)
       features which are used in these extended capabilities.


       Thomas E. Dickey
       beginning with ncurses 5.0 (1999)