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ANNOUNCE: ncurses 5.6

From: Thomas Dickey
Subject: ANNOUNCE: ncurses 5.6
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 19:29:47 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.13 (2006-08-11)

                            Announcing ncurses 5.6

   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.

   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.

   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!

   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 tools.

   The  ncurses  distribution  is  available via anonymous FTP at the GNU
   distribution site [1] .
   It is also available at [2] .

                                 Release Notes

   This  release  is  designed  to  be upward compatible from ncurses 5.0
   through   5.5;  very  few  applications  will  require  recompilation,
   depending   on  the  platform.  These  are  the  highlights  from  the
   change-log since ncurses 5.5 release.

   Interface changes:
     * generate linkable stubs for some macros:
       getbegx,  getbegy,  getcurx,  getcury,  getmaxx, getmaxy, getparx,
       getpary, getpary,
       and (for libncursesw)

   New features and improvements:
     * library
          + support  hashed databases for the terminal descriptions. This
            uses  the  Berkeley  database,  has  been  tested for several
            versions on different platforms.
          + add    use_legacy_coding()   function   to   support   lynx's
            font-switching feature.
          + add extension nofilter(), to cancel a prior filter() call.
          + add/install a package config script, e.g., ncurses5-config or
            ncursesw5-config, according to configuration options.
          + provide  ifdef  for  NCURSES_NOMACROS  which  suppresses most
            macro  definitions  from  curses.h,  i.e.,  where  a macro is
            defined to override a function to improve performance.
          + make  ifdef's  consistent in curses.h for the extended colors
            so the header file can be used for the normal curses library.
            The  header file installed for extended colors is a variation
            of the wide-character configuration.
          + improve  tgetstr()  by making the return value point into the
            user's buffer, if provided.
          + add  ifdef's  allowing ncurses to be built with tparm() using
            either   varargs   (the   existing   status),   or   using  a
            fixed-parameter list (to match X/Open).
          + widen  the  test  for xterm kmous a little to allow for other
            strings  than  "\E[M",  e.g.,  for xterm-sco functionality in
          + modify wgetnstr() to return KEY_RESIZE if a sigwinch occurs.
          + move  prototypes  for  wide-character  trace  functions  from
            curses.tail  to  curses.wide to avoid accidental reference to
            those  if  _XOPEN_SOURCE_EXTENDED is defined without ensuring
            that <wchar.h> is included.
          + change  the  way  shared  libraries  (other than libtool) are
            installed.  Rather  than  copying the build-tree's libraries,
            link  the  shared  objects  into  the install directory. This
            makes the --with-rpath option work except with $(DESTDIR).
          + several  improvements for rendering in hpterm. These are only
            available    if    the    library    is    configured   using
            environment  variables  to  allow  runtime suppression of the
            related hard-tabs and xmc-glitch features.
     * programs:
          + add  new  test programs: chgat.c, demo_altkeys.c, echochar.c,
            foldkeys.c,  movewindow.c,  redraw.c,  (noting  that existing
            test   programs   also   were  modified  to  test  additional
          + modify tack to test extended capability function-key strings.
          + modify  toe  to  access  termcap  data,  e.g.,  via cgetent()
            functions, or as a text file if those are not available.
          + improve infocmp/tic -f option formatting.
          + add  toe  -a  option,  to  show  all databases. This uses new
            private  interfaces  in  the  ncurses  library  for iterating
            through the list of databases.
          + modify to use tic -x when constructing fallback
            tables  to allow extended capabilities to be retrieved from a
            fallback entry.
     * terminal database
          + add terminfo entries for xfce terminal (xfce) and multi gnome
            terminal (mgt)
          + add nsterm-16color entry
          + updated mlterm terminfo entry
          + add kon, kon2 and jfbterm terminfo entry
          + remove  invis capability from klone+sgr, mainly used by linux
            entry, since it does not really do this
          + add ka2, kb1, kb3, kc2 to vt220-keypad as an extension
          + add  shifted  up/down  arrow  codes  to xterm-new as kind/kri
          + add hpterm-color terminfo entry
          + add  256color variants of terminfo entries for programs which
            are reported to implement this feature
          + correct  order  of use-clauses in rxvt-basic entry which made
            codes for f1-f4 vt100-style rather than vt220-style.

   Major bug fixes:
     * correct  a typo in configure --with-bool option for the case where
       --without-cxx is used.
     * move  assignment from environment variable ESCDELAY from initscr()
       down to newterm() so the environment variable affects timeouts for
       terminals opened with newterm() as well.
     * modify  werase  to clear multicolumn characters that extend into a
       derived window.
     * modify wchgat() to mark updated cells as changed so a refresh will
       repaint those cells.
     * correct  logic  in wadd_wch() and wecho_wch(), which did not guard
       against   passing  the  multi-column  attribute  into  a  call  on
       waddch(), e.g., using data returned by win_wch()
     * fix  redrawing  of  windows other than stdscr using wredrawln() by
       touching the corresponding rows in curscr.
     * reduce  memory leaks in repeated calls to tgetent() by remembering
       the  last TERMINAL* value allocated to hold the corresponding data
       and freeing that if the tgetent() result buffer is the same as the
       previous call.
     * modify  read_termtype() so the term_names data is always allocated
       as part of the str_table, a better fix for a memory leak.
     * fix  wins_nwstr(),  which  did  not  handle single-column non-8bit
     * modify  wbkgrnd()  to avoid clearing the A_CHARTEXT attribute bits
       since those record the state of multicolumn characters.
     * improve   SIGWINCH   handling  by  postponing  its  effect  during
       newterm(), etc., when allocating screens.
     * remove  970913 feature for copying subwindows as they are moved in
     * add checks in waddchnstr() and wadd_wchnstr() to stop copying when
       a null character is found.
     * add  some  checks  to  ensure current position is within scrolling
       region before scrolling on a new line.
     * add  a  workaround  to  ACS  mapping to allow applications such as
       test/blue.c  to  use  the "PC ROM" characters by masking them with
       A_ALTCHARSET. This worked up til 5.5, but was lost in the revision
       of legacy coding.

     * configure script:
          + new options:

                      Use  Berkeley  hashed database for storing terminfo
                      data  rather  than storing each compiled entry in a
                      separate binary file within a directory tree.

                      Do not use dlsym() to load GPM dynamically.

                      Simplify building for testing with valgrind.

                      Compile with experimental wgetch-events code.

                      Store booleans in "signed char" rather than "char".

          + improved options:

                      make the option work both ways.

                      The  option now accepts a parameter, i.e., the name
                      of the dynamic GPM library to load via dlopen()

                      The  option  now allows one to disable symlink() in
                      tic even when link() does not work.

     * other configure/build issues:
          + remove  special  case for Darwin in CF_XOPEN_SOURCE configure
          + add  configure  check  to  ensure that SIGWINCH is defined on
            platforms such as OS X which exclude that when _XOPEN_SOURCE,
            etc., are defined
          + use  ld's -search_paths_first option on Darwin to work around
            odd search rules on that platform.
          + improve  ifdef's for _POSIX_VDISABLE in tset to work with Mac
            OS X.
          + modify  configure  script to ensure that if the C compiler is
            used  rather  than the loader in making shared libraries, the
            $(CFLAGS) variable is also used.
          + use  ${CC}  rather  than  ${LD}  in  shared library rules for
            IRIX64,  Solaris  to help ensure that initialization sections
            are  provided  for  extra  linkage requirements, e.g., of C++
          + improve  some  shared-library  configure scripting for Linux,
            FreeBSD and NetBSD to make --with-shlib-version work.
          + split    up    dependency   of   names.c   and   codes.c   in
            ncurses/Makefile to work with parallel make.
          + modify  to  change  preprocessor-expanded _Bool
            back to bool.
          + modify progs/ to make tput init work properly with
            cygwin, i.e., do not pass a .exe in the reference string used
            in check_aliases.
     * library:
          + ignore wide-acs line-drawing characters that wcwidth() claims
            are  not one-column. This is a workaround for Solaris' broken
            locale support.
          + reduce  name-pollution  in  term.h  by removing #define's for
            HAVE_xxx symbols.
          + fix #ifdef in c++/internal.h for QNX 6.1
     * test programs:
          + modify  test/configure script to allow building test programs
            with PDCurses/X11.
          + modified  test  programs  to  allow  some to work with NetBSD
            curses.  Several  do  not  because NetBSD curses implements a
            subset  of  X/Open  curses,  and  also  lacks  much  of  SVr4
            additions. But it is enough for comparison.
          + improved  test/configure  to  build  test/ncurses  on HPUX 11
            using the vendor curses.
          + change  configure  script  to produce test/Makefile from data

                              Features of Ncurses

   The ncurses package is fully compatible with SVr4 (System V Release 4)
     * All  257  of  the  SVr4  calls  have  been  implemented  (and  are
     * Full  support for SVr4 curses features including keyboard mapping,
       color,   forms-drawing   with   ACS   characters,   and  automatic
       recognition of keypad and function keys.
     * An  emulation  of  the  SVr4 panels library, supporting a stack of
       windows with backing store, is included.
     * An  emulation  of the SVr4 menus library, supporting a uniform but
       flexible interface for menu programming, is included.
     * An  emulation of the SVr4 form library, supporting data collection
       through on-screen forms, is included.
     * Binary   terminfo   entries   generated   by  the  ncurses  tic(1)
       implementation  are  bit-for-bit-compatible  with the entry format
       SVr4 curses uses.
     * The utilities have options to allow you to filter terminfo entries
       for  use  with  less  capable curses/terminfo versions such as the
       HP/UX and AIX ports.

   The ncurses package also has many useful extensions over SVr4:
     * 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).
     * Unlike  SVr3 curses, ncurses can write to the rightmost-bottommost
       corner  of  the  screen  if  your terminal has an insert-character
     * Ada95 and C++ bindings.
     * Support  for mouse event reporting with X Window xterm and FreeBSD
       and OS/2 console windows.
     * Extended mouse support via Alessandro Rubini's gpm package.
     * The  function  wresize()  allows you to resize windows, preserving
       their data.
     * The function use_default_colors() allows you to use the terminal's
       default colors for the default color pair, achieving the effect of
       transparent colors.
     * The functions keyok() and define_key() 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 code.
     * Support for 16-color terminals, such as aixterm and modern xterm.
     * Better  cursor-movement  optimization.  The package now features a
       cursor-local-movement computation more efficient than either BSD's
       or System V's.
     * 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 quickch() routine.
     * 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.
     * 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 mode).
     * The tic(1)/captoinfo utility provided with ncurses has the ability
       to  translate many termcaps from the XENIX, IBM and AT&T extension
     * A BSD-like tset(1) utility is provided.
     * 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.
     * 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
     * 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.
     * A  script  (capconvert)  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
     * 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.
     * The  table-of-entries  utility  toe makes it easy for users to see
       exactly what terminal types are available on the system.
     * 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
     * An  HTML  "Introduction  to  Programming  with  NCURSES"  document
       provides  a  narrative  introduction  to  the  curses  programming

                             State of the Package

   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.

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

          Curses Development Kit


          the  underlying  application used in Slackware's setup, and the
          basis for similar applications on GNU/Linux.

          the character-screen WWW browser

   Midnight Commander
          file manager

          mail utility

          file-transfer utility

          New vi versions 1.50 are able to use ncurses versions 1.9.7 and

          Lynx-like info browser.

          newsreader, supporting color, MIME [13]

          Volks-Hypertext browser for the Jargon File

   as well as some that use ncurses for the terminfo support alone:

          terminal emulator


   The  ncurses  distribution  includes  a  selection  of  test  programs
   (including a few games).

Who's Who and What's What

   Zeyd  Ben-Halim started it from a previous package pcurses, written by
   Pavel  Curtis.  Eric S. Raymond continued development. Juergen Pfeifer
   wrote  most of the form and menu libraries. Ongoing work is being done
   by  [17]Thomas  Dickey.  Thomas  Dickey acts as the maintainer for the
   Free  Software  Foundation,  which  holds  the  copyright  on ncurses.
   Contact the current maintainers at address@hidden

   To   join   the   ncurses   mailing   list,   please  write  email  to
   address@hidden containing the line:
             subscribe <name>@<host.domain>

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

   Beta  versions  of ncurses and patches to the current release are made
   available at [19] .

Future Plans

     * Extended-level   XPG4   conformance,   with   internationalization
     * Ports to more systems, including DOS and Windows.

   We  need  people to help with these projects. If you are interested in
   working on them, please join the ncurses list.

Other Related Resources

   The  distribution  provides  a  newer  version  of the terminfo-format
   terminal description file once maintained by [20]Eric Raymond . 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.

   You  can  find  lots  of  information  on  terminal-related topics not
   covered in the terminfo file at [21]Richard Shuford's archive .


  17. mailto:address@hidden
  18. mailto:address@hidden

Thomas E. Dickey <address@hidden>

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