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)(int));
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 capabil‐
ities, such as programming function keys. For all other functionality,
curses routines are more suitable and their use is recommended.
Initially, setupterm should be called. Note that setupterm is automat‐
ically called by initscr and newterm. This defines the set of termi‐
nal-dependent variables [listed in terminfo(5)]. The terminfo vari‐
ables 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 termin‐
fo 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. Parame‐
terized 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)]. Programs which use cursor ad‐
dressing should output enter_ca_mode upon startup and should output ex‐
it_ca_mode before exiting. Programs desiring shell escapes should call
reset_shell_mode and output exit_ca_mode before the shell is called and
should 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. The terminal type is the character string
term; if term is null, the environment variable TERM is used. All out‐
put is to file descriptor fildes which is initialized for output. If
errret is not null, then setupterm returns OK or ERR and stores a sta‐
tus 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, ex‐
1 means that the terminal is hardcopy, cannot be used for
0 means that the terminal could not be found, or that it is a
generic type, having too little information for curses ap‐
plications to run.
-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 is being replaced by setupterm. The call:
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
The set_curterm routine sets the variable cur_term to nterm, and makes
all of the terminfo boolean, numeric, and string variables use the val‐
ues 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, refer‐
ences to any of the terminfo boolean, numeric, and string variables
thereafter may refer to invalid memory locations until another se‐
tupterm 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 exam‐
ple, 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
memory 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 parameters 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 parameters are integers (int) rather
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 af‐
fected, 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
The vidattr routine is like the vidputs routine, except that it outputs
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 rou‐
tines 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 that argument.
The mvcur routine provides low-level cursor motion. It takes effect
immediately (rather than at the next refresh).
The tigetflag, tigetnum and tigetstr routines return the value of the
capability corresponding to the terminfo capname passed to them, such
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 descrip‐
The tigetnum routine returns the value -2 if capname is not a numeric
capability, or -1 if it is canceled or absent from the terminal de‐
The tigetstr routine returns the value (char *)-1 if capname is not a
string capability, or 0 if it is canceled or absent from the terminal
The capname for each capability is given in the table column entitled
capname code in the capabilities section of terminfo(5).
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 terminfo variables.
Routines that return an integer return ERR upon failure and OK (SVr4
only specifies "an integer value other than ERR") upon successful com‐
pletion, 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 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 re‐
turns 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.
The setupterm routine should be used in place of setterm. It may be
useful when you want to test for terminal capabilities without commit‐
ting 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 applications.
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 Curses prototypes tparm with a fixed number of parameters,
rather than a variable argument list. This implementation uses a vari‐
able argument list, but can be configured to use the fixed-parameter
list. Portable applications should provide 9 parameters after the for‐
mat; zeroes are fine for this purpose.
In response to comments by Thomas E. Dickey, X/Open Curses Issue 7 pro‐
posed 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 application should touch and re‐
fresh the window before resuming normal curses calls. Both ncurses and
System V Release 4 curses implement mvcur using the SCREEN data allo‐
cated in either initscr or newterm. So though it is documented as a
terminfo function, mvcur is really a curses function which is not well
X/Open states that the old location must be given for mvcur. This im‐
plementation allows the caller to use -1's for the old ordinates. In
that case, the old location is unknown.
Extended terminal capability names, e.g., as defined by tic -x, are not
stored in the arrays described in this section.
SEE ALSOcurses(3X), curs_initscr(3X), curs_kernel(3X), curs_termcap(3X),
curs_variables(3X), term_variables(3X), putc(3), terminfo(5)curs_terminfo(3X)