tic(1) General Commands Manual tic(1)
tic - the terminfo entry-description compiler
tic [-01CDGIKLNTUVWacfgqrstx] [-e names] [-o dir] [-Q[n]] [-R subset] [-v[n]] [-w[n]] file
The tic command translates a terminfo file from source format into compiled format. The compiled format is necessary for use with the
library routines in ncurses(3NCURSES).
As described in term(5), the database may be either a directory tree (one file per terminal entry) or a hashed database (one record per
entry). The tic command writes only one type of entry, depending on how it was built:
o For directory trees, the top-level directory, e.g., /usr/share/terminfo, specifies the location of the database.
o For hashed databases, a filename is needed. If the given file is not found by that name, but can be found by adding the suffix ".db",
then that is used.
The default name for the hashed database is the same as the default directory name (only adding a ".db" suffix).
In either case (directory or hashed database), tic will create the container if it does not exist. For a directory, this would be the
"terminfo" leaf, versus a "terminfo.db" file.
The results are normally placed in the system terminfo database /etc/terminfo. The compiled terminal description can be placed in a dif-
ferent terminfo database. There are two ways to achieve this:
o First, you may override the system default either by using the -o option, or by setting the variable TERMINFO in your shell environment
to a valid database location.
o Secondly, if tic cannot write in /etc/terminfo or the location specified using your TERMINFO variable, it looks for the directory
$HOME/.terminfo (or hashed database $HOME/.terminfo.db); if that location exists, the entry is placed there.
Libraries that read terminfo entries are expected to check in succession
o a location specified with the TERMINFO environment variable,
o directories listed in the TERMINFO_DIRS environment variable,
o a compiled-in list of directories (no default value), and
o the system terminfo database (/etc/terminfo).
-0 restricts the output to a single line
-1 restricts the output to a single column
-a tells tic to retain commented-out capabilities rather than discarding them. Capabilities are commented by prefixing them with a
period. This sets the -x option, because it treats the commented-out entries as user-defined names. If the source is termcap,
accept the 2-character names required by version 6. Otherwise these are ignored.
-C Force source translation to termcap format. Note: this differs from the -C option of infocmp(1) in that it does not merely trans-
late capability names, but also translates terminfo strings to termcap format. Capabilities that are not translatable are left in
the entry under their terminfo names but commented out with two preceding dots. The actual format used incorporates some improve-
ments for escaped characters from terminfo format. For a stricter BSD-compatible translation, add the -K option.
If this is combined with -c, tic makes additional checks to report cases where the terminfo values do not have an exact equivalent
in termcap form. For example:
o sgr usually will not convert, because termcap lacks the ability to work with more than two parameters, and because termcap lacks
many of the arithmetic/logical operators used in terminfo.
o capabilities with more than one delay or with delays before the end of the string will not convert completely.
-c tells tic to only check file for errors, including syntax problems and bad use links. If you specify -C (-I) with this option, the
code will print warnings about entries which, after use resolution, are more than 1023(4096) bytes long. Due to a fixed buffer
length in older termcap libraries, as well as buggy checking for the buffer length (and a documented limit in terminfo), these
entries may cause core dumps with other implementations.
tic checks string capabilities to ensure that those with parameters will be valid expressions. It does this check only for the pre-
defined string capabilities; those which are defined with the -x option are ignored.
-D tells tic to print the database locations that it knows about, and exit. The first location shown is the one to which it would
write compiled terminal descriptions. If tic is not able to find a writable database location according to the rules summarized
above, it will print a diagnostic and exit with an error rather than printing a list of database locations.
Limit writes and translations to the following comma-separated list of terminals. If any name or alias of a terminal matches one of
the names in the list, the entry will be written or translated as normal. Otherwise no output will be generated for it. The option
value is interpreted as a file containing the list if it contains a '/'. (Note: depending on how tic was compiled, this option may
require -I or -C.)
-f Display complex terminfo strings which contain if/then/else/endif expressions indented for readability.
-G Display constant literals in decimal form rather than their character equivalents.
-g Display constant character literals in quoted form rather than their decimal equivalents.
-I Force source translation to terminfo format.
-K Suppress some longstanding ncurses extensions to termcap format, e.g., "s" for space.
-L Force source translation to terminfo format using the long C variable names listed in <term.h>
-N Disable smart defaults. Normally, when translating from termcap to terminfo, the compiler makes a number of assumptions about the
defaults of string capabilities reset1_string, carriage_return, cursor_left, cursor_down, scroll_forward, tab, newline,
key_backspace, key_left, and key_down, then attempts to use obsolete termcap capabilities to deduce correct values. It also nor-
mally suppresses output of obsolete termcap capabilities such as bs. This option forces a more literal translation that also pre-
serves the obsolete capabilities.
-odir Write compiled entries to given database location. Overrides the TERMINFO environment variable.
-Qn Rather than show source in terminfo (text) format, print the compiled (binary) format in hexadecimal or base64 form, depending on
the option's value:
3 hexadecimal and base64
-q Suppress comments and blank lines when showing translated source.
Restrict output to a given subset. This option is for use with archaic versions of terminfo like those on SVr1, Ultrix, or HP/UX
that do not support the full set of SVR4/XSI Curses terminfo; and outright broken ports like AIX 3.x that have their own extensions
incompatible with SVr4/XSI. Available subsets are "SVr1", "Ultrix", "HP", "BSD" and "AIX"; see terminfo(5) for details.
-r Force entry resolution (so there are no remaining tc capabilities) even when doing translation to termcap format. This may be
needed if you are preparing a termcap file for a termcap library (such as GNU termcap through version 1.3 or BSD termcap through
4.3BSD) that does not handle multiple tc capabilities per entry.
-s Summarize the compile by showing the database location into which entries are written, and the number of entries which are compiled.
-T eliminates size-restrictions on the generated text. This is mainly useful for testing and analysis, since the compiled descriptions
are limited (e.g., 1023 for termcap, 4096 for terminfo).
-t tells tic to discard commented-out capabilities. Normally when translating from terminfo to termcap, untranslatable capabilities
-U tells tic to not post-process the data after parsing the source file. Normally, it infers data which is commonly missing in older
terminfo data, or in termcaps.
-V reports the version of ncurses which was used in this program, and exits.
-vn specifies that (verbose) output be written to standard error trace information showing tic's progress.
The optional parameter n is a number from 1 to 10, inclusive, indicating the desired level of detail of information. If ncurses is
built without tracing support, the optional parameter is ignored. If n is omitted, the default level is 1. If n is specified and
greater than 1, the level of detail is increased.
The debug flag levels are as follows:
1 Names of files created and linked
2 Information related to the "use" facility
3 Statistics from the hashing algorithm
5 String-table memory allocations
7 Entries into the string-table
8 List of tokens encountered by scanner
9 All values computed in construction of the hash table
If the debug level n is not given, it is taken to be one.
-W By itself, the -w option will not force long strings to be wrapped. Use the -W option to do this.
If you specify both -f and -W options, the latter is ignored when -f has already split the line.
-wn specifies the width of the output. The parameter is optional. If it is omitted, it defaults to 60.
-x Treat unknown capabilities as user-defined. That is, if you supply a capability name which tic does not recognize, it will infer its
type (boolean, number or string) from the syntax and make an extended table entry for that. User-defined capability strings whose
name begins with "k" are treated as function keys.
file contains one or more terminfo terminal descriptions in source format [see terminfo(5)]. Each description in the file describes the
capabilities of a particular terminal.
If file is "-", then the data is read from the standard input. The file parameter may also be the path of a character-device.
All but one of the capabilities recognized by tic are documented in terminfo(5). The exception is the use capability.
When a use=entry-name field is discovered in a terminal entry currently being compiled, tic reads in the binary from /etc/terminfo to com-
plete the entry. (Entries created from file will be used first. tic duplicates the capabilities in entry-name for the current entry, with
the exception of those capabilities that explicitly are defined in the current entry.
When an entry, e.g., entry_name_1, contains a use=entry_name_2 field, any canceled capabilities in entry_name_2 must also appear in
entry_name_1 before use= for these capabilities to be canceled in entry_name_1.
Total compiled entries cannot exceed 4096 bytes. The name field cannot exceed 512 bytes. Terminal names exceeding the maximum alias
length (32 characters on systems with long filenames, 14 characters otherwise) will be truncated to the maximum alias length and a warning
message will be printed.
There is some evidence that historic tic implementations treated description fields with no whitespace in them as additional aliases or
short names. This tic does not do that, but it does warn when description fields may be treated that way and check them for dangerous
Unlike the SVr4 tic command, this implementation can actually compile termcap sources. In fact, entries in terminfo and termcap syntax can
be mixed in a single source file. See terminfo(5) for the list of termcap names taken to be equivalent to terminfo names.
The SVr4 manual pages are not clear on the resolution rules for use capabilities. This implementation of tic will find use targets any-
where in the source file, or anywhere in the file tree rooted at TERMINFO (if TERMINFO is defined), or in the user's $HOME/.terminfo data-
base (if it exists), or (finally) anywhere in the system's file tree of compiled entries.
The error messages from this tic have the same format as GNU C error messages, and can be parsed by GNU Emacs's compile facility.
The -0, -1, -C, -G, -I, -N, -R, -T, -V, -a, -e, -f, -g, -o, -r, -s, -t and -x options are not supported under SVr4. The SVr4 -c mode does
not report bad use links.
System V does not compile entries to or read entries from your $HOME/.terminfo database unless TERMINFO is explicitly set to it.
Compiled terminal description database.
infocmp(1), captoinfo(1), infotocap(1), toe(1), ncurses(3NCURSES), term(5). terminfo(5).
This describes ncurses version 6.1 (patch 20180127).
Eric S. Raymond <firstname.lastname@example.org> and
Thomas E. Dickey <email@example.com>