Subject: Re: ncurses and terminfo
To: Wolfgang Solfrank <>
From: Greg A. Woods <>
List: current-users
Date: 04/08/1996 15:40:24
[ On Wed, April  3, 1996 at 17:17:24 (+0200), Wolfgang Solfrank wrote: ]
> Subject: Re: ncurses and terminfo
> > One problem of terminfo is that it is hard to add another kind 
> > of capability. Look at binary format of terminfo. It is NOT 
> > key-value pair like a termcap, but simple sequence in pre-defined order.
> > So that I cannot share $HOME/lib/terminfo directory between another
> > Operating System (Japanese vendors frequently adds their own extension 
> > to terminfo :-<), though I can share $HOME/.termcap.

I see no reason to share $HOME/lib/terminfo provided you have
$HOME/lib/terminfo.`uname -s`, and proviced the tic source files are

In fact I don't see any reason why a machine independent format cannot
be defined for ncurses, given that ncurses does still support the AT&T
terminfo format, and a means can be devised to specify and recognize the
difference between the AT&T and ncurses compiled formats.

> That's exactly my objection against terminfo. And my objection is quite hard!

I *STRONGLY* object to the ability to add capabilities to the database.
I don't care if the database is one flat ASCII file, AT&T style
directories, environment variables, or whatever, so long as the greatest
practical efficiency is maintained.

This may have been a useful feature for the database maintainer back in
the days when the problem of terminal independence was still being
explored.  However, since that time each and every instance I have
encountered where someone added a capability resulted in yet another
totally incompatible database which required constant correction in
synch with all the other similar databases.  The one nice thing about
terminfo curses is that it has, finally, nearly completely identified
every possible quirk necessary in such a database thus permitting at
long last a single coherent database for all applications.

I would suggest the number of new unique terminals is effectively zero
for the standard ASCII realm, vastly reducing the need of ever extending
the database.

I would also suggest that international users should eagerly send their
contributions to the ncurses maintainers in order to avoid further need
for local hacks.  They should also be pushing for acceptance of these
same features by X/Open.

							Greg A. Woods

+1 416 443-1734			VE3TCP			robohack!woods
Planix, Inc. <>; Secrets Of The Weird <>