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  <title>Announcing ncurses 5.9</title>
  <link rev="made" href="mailto:bug-ncurses@gnu.org">
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  <h1>Announcing ncurses 5.9</h1>The ncurses (new curses)
  library is a free software emulation of curses in System V
  Release 4.0, and more. It uses terminfo format, supports pads and
  color and multiple highlights and forms characters and
  function-key mapping, and has all the other SYSV-curses
  enhancements over BSD curses.

  <p>In mid-June 1995, the maintainer of 4.4BSD curses declared
  that he considered 4.4BSD curses obsolete, and encouraged the
  keepers of Unix releases such as BSD/OS, FreeBSD and NetBSD to
  switch over to ncurses.</p>

  <p>The ncurses code was developed under GNU/Linux. It has been in
  use for some time with OpenBSD as the system curses library, and
  on FreeBSD and NetBSD as an external package. It should port
  easily to any ANSI/POSIX-conforming UNIX. It has even been ported
  to OS/2 Warp!</p>

  <p>The distribution includes the library and support utilities,
  including a terminfo compiler tic(1), a decompiler infocmp(1),
  clear(1), tput(1), tset(1), and a termcap conversion tool
  captoinfo(1). Full manual pages are provided for the library and

  <p>The ncurses distribution is available via anonymous FTP at the
  GNU distribution site <a href=

  It is also available at <a href=

  <h1>Release Notes</h1>This release is designed to be upward
  compatible from ncurses 5.0 through 5.8; very few applications
  will require recompilation, depending on the platform. These are
  the highlights from the change-log since ncurses 5.8 release.
  This is a bug-fix release, correcting a small number of urgent problems
  in the ncurses library from the 5.8 release.
  It also improves the Ada95 binding:
  <li>fixes a longstanding portability problem with its use of the
      <a href="http://invisible-island.net/ncurses/man/form_fieldtype.3x">set_field_type</a>
      function.  Because that function uses variable-length argument lists,
      its interface with gnat does not work with certain platforms.
  <li>improves configurability and portability, particularly when built
      separately from the main ncurses tree.  The 5.8 release introduced
      scripts which can be used to construct separate tarballs for the
      Ada95 and ncurses examples.
      <p>Those were a proof of concept.  For the 5.9 release, those
      scripts are augmented with rpm- and dpkg-scripts used in test builds
      against a variety of gnat- and system ncurses versions as old as
      gnat 3.15 and ncurses 5.4 (see snapshots and systems tested
      <a href="http://invisible-island.net/ncurses/ncurses-Ada95.html">here</a>.
  <li>additional improvements were made for portability of the
      ncurses examples, adding rpm- and dpkg-scripts for test-builds.
      <a href="http://invisible-island.net/ncurses/ncurses-examples.html">this page</a>
      for snapshots and other information.

  <h1>Features of Ncurses</h1>The ncurses package is fully
  compatible with SVr4 (System V Release 4) curses:

    <li>All 257 of the SVr4 calls have been implemented (and are

    <li>Full support for SVr4 curses features including keyboard
    mapping, color, forms-drawing with ACS characters, and
    automatic recognition of keypad and function keys.</li>

    <li>An emulation of the SVr4 panels library, supporting a stack
    of windows with backing store, is included.</li>

    <li>An emulation of the SVr4 menus library, supporting a
    uniform but flexible interface for menu programming, is

    <li>An emulation of the SVr4 form library, supporting data
    collection through on-screen forms, is included.</li>

    <li>Binary terminfo entries generated by the ncurses tic(1)
    implementation are bit-for-bit-compatible with the entry format
    SVr4 curses uses.</li>

    <li>The utilities have options to allow you to filter terminfo
    entries for use with less capable
    <strong>curses</strong>/<strong>terminfo</strong> versions such
    as the HP/UX and AIX ports.</li>
  </ul>The ncurses package also has many useful extensions over

    <li>The API is 8-bit clean and base-level conformant with the
    X/OPEN curses specification, XSI curses (that is, it implements
    all BASE level features, and most EXTENDED features). It
    includes many function calls not supported under SVr4 curses
    (but portability of all calls is documented so you can use the
    SVr4 subset only).</li>

    <li>Unlike SVr3 curses, ncurses can write to the
    rightmost-bottommost corner of the screen if your terminal has
    an insert-character capability.</li>

    <li>Ada95 and C++ bindings.</li>

    <li>Support for mouse event reporting with X Window xterm and
    FreeBSD and OS/2 console windows.</li>

    <li>Extended mouse support via Alessandro Rubini's gpm

    <li>The function <code>wresize</code> allows you to resize
    windows, preserving their data.</li>

    <li>The function <code>use_default_colors</code> allows you to
    use the terminal's default colors for the default color pair,
    achieving the effect of transparent colors.</li>

    <li>The functions <code>keyok</code> and
    <code>define_key</code> allow you to better control the use of
    function keys, e.g., disabling the ncurses KEY_MOUSE, or by
    defining more than one control sequence to map to a given key

    <li>Support for 256-color terminals, such as modern xterm, when
    configured using the <code>--enable-ext-colors</code>

    <li>Support for 16-color terminals, such as <em>aixterm</em>
    and <em>modern xterm</em>.</li>

    <li>Better cursor-movement optimization. The package now
    features a cursor-local-movement computation more efficient
    than either BSD's or System V's.</li>

    <li>Super hardware scrolling support. The screen-update code
    incorporates a novel, simple, and cheap algorithm that enables
    it to make optimal use of hardware scrolling, line-insertion,
    and line-deletion for screen-line movements. This algorithm is
    more powerful than the 4.4BSD curses <code>quickch</code>

    <li>Real support for terminals with the magic-cookie glitch.
    The screen-update code will refrain from drawing a highlight if
    the magic- cookie unattributed spaces required just before the
    beginning and after the end would step on a non-space
    character. It will automatically shift highlight boundaries
    when doing so would make it possible to draw the highlight
    without changing the visual appearance of the screen.</li>

    <li>It is possible to generate the library with a list of
    pre-loaded fallback entries linked to it so that it can serve
    those terminal types even when no terminfo tree or termcap file
    is accessible (this may be useful for support of
    screen-oriented programs that must run in single-user

    <li>The tic(1)/captoinfo utility provided with ncurses has the
    ability to translate many termcaps from the XENIX, IBM and
    AT&amp;T extension sets.</li>

    <li>A BSD-like tset(1) utility is provided.</li>

    <li>The ncurses library and utilities will automatically read
    terminfo entries from $HOME/.terminfo if it exists, and compile
    to that directory if it exists and the user has no write access
    to the system directory. This feature makes it easier for users
    to have personal terminfo entries without giving up access to
    the system terminfo directory.</li>

    <li>You may specify a path of directories to search for
    compiled descriptions with the environment variable
    TERMINFO_DIRS (this generalizes the feature provided by
    TERMINFO under stock System V.)</li>

    <li>In terminfo source files, use capabilities may refer not
    just to other entries in the same source file (as in System V)
    but also to compiled entries in either the system terminfo
    directory or the user's $HOME/.terminfo directory.</li>

    <li>A script (<strong>capconvert</strong>) is provided to help
    BSD users transition from termcap to terminfo. It gathers the
    information in a TERMCAP environment variable and/or a
    ~/.termcap local entries file and converts it to an equivalent
    local terminfo tree under $HOME/.terminfo.</li>

    <li>Automatic fallback to the /etc/termcap file can be compiled
    in when it is not possible to build a terminfo tree. This
    feature is neither fast nor cheap, you don't want to use it
    unless you have to, but it's there.</li>

    <li>The table-of-entries utility <strong>toe</strong> makes it
    easy for users to see exactly what terminal types are available
    on the system.</li>

    <li>The library meets the XSI requirement that every macro
    entry point have a corresponding function which may be linked
    (and will be prototype-checked) if the macro definition is
    disabled with <code>#undef</code>.</li>

    <li>An HTML "Introduction to Programming with NCURSES" document
    provides a narrative introduction to the curses programming

  <h1>State of the Package</h1>Numerous bugs present in earlier
  versions have been fixed; the library is far more reliable than
  it used to be. Bounds checking in many `dangerous' entry points
  has been improved. The code is now type-safe according to gcc
  -Wall. The library has been checked for malloc leaks and arena
  corruption by the Purify memory-allocation tester.

  <p>The ncurses code has been tested with a wide variety of
  applications including (versions starting with those noted):</p>


    <dd>Curses Development Kit<br>
    <a href=

    <a href=


    <a href=


    <dd>the underlying application used in Slackware's setup, and
    the basis for similar applications on GNU/Linux.<br>
    <a href=


    <dd>the character-screen WWW browser<br>
    <a href=

    <dt>Midnight Commander</dt>

    <dd>file manager<br>
    <a href=


    <dd>mail utility<br>
    <a href="http://www.mutt.org/">http://www.mutt.org/</a></dd>


    <dd>file-transfer utility<br>
    <a href="http://www.ncftp.com/">http://www.ncftp.com/</a></dd>


    <dd>New vi versions 1.50 are able to use ncurses versions 1.9.7
    and later.<br>
    <a href=


    <dd>Lynx-like info browser. <a href=


    <dd>newsreader, supporting color, MIME <a href=
  </dl>as well as some that use ncurses for the terminfo support


    <dd>terminal emulator<br>
    <a href=


    <a href=

  <p>The ncurses distribution includes a selection of test programs
  (including a few games).</p>

  <h2>Who's Who and What's What</h2>Zeyd Ben-Halim started it from
  a previous package pcurses, written by Pavel Curtis. Eric S.
  Raymond continued development. J&uuml;rgen Pfeifer wrote most of
  the form and menu libraries. Ongoing work is being done by
  <a href="mailto:dickey@invisible-island.net">Thomas Dickey</a>.
  Thomas Dickey acts as the maintainer for the Free Software
  Foundation, which holds the copyright on ncurses. Contact the
  current maintainers at <a href=

  <p>To join the ncurses mailing list, please write email to
  <code>bug-ncurses-request@gnu.org</code> containing the line:</p>
             subscribe &lt;name&gt;@&lt;host.domain&gt;

  <p>This list is open to anyone interested in helping with the
  development and testing of this package.</p>

  <p>Beta versions of ncurses and patches to the current release
  are made available at <a href=

  <h2>Future Plans</h2>

    <li>Extended-level XPG4 conformance, with internationalization

    <li>Ports to more systems, including DOS and Windows.</li>
  </ul>We need people to help with these projects. If you are
  interested in working on them, please join the ncurses list.

  <h2>Other Related Resources</h2>The distribution provides a newer
  version of the terminfo-format terminal description file once
  maintained by <a href="http://www.catb.org/~esr/terminfo/">Eric
  Raymond</a>&nbsp;. Unlike the older version, the termcap and
  terminfo data are provided in the same file, and provides several
  user-definable extensions beyond the X/Open specification.

  <p>You can find lots of information on terminal-related topics
  not covered in the terminfo file at <a href=
  Richard Shuford's archive</a>&nbsp;.</p>