tic - the terminfo entry-description compiler
tic [-01CDGIKLNTUVacfgrstx] [-e names] [-o dir] [-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(3X).
As described in term(5), the database may be either a directory tree (one file per termi-
nal 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"
The results are normally placed in the system terminfo database /usr/share/terminfo. The
compiled terminal description can be placed in a different 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 set-
ting the variable TERMINFO in your shell environment to a valid database location.
o Secondly, if tic cannot write in /usr/share/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 (/usr/share/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. Capa-
bilities 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
-C Force source translation to termcap format. Note: this differs from the -C option
of infocmp(1M) in that it does not merely translate capability names, but also
translates terminfo strings to termcap format. Capabilities that are not translat-
able are left in the entry under their terminfo names but commented out with two
preceding dots. The actual format used incorporates some improvements for escaped
characters from terminfo format. For a stricter BSD-compatible translation, add
the -K option.
-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.
-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 sum-
marized above, it will print a diagnostic and exit with an error rather than print-
ing 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 equiv-
-I Force source translation to terminfo format.
-K Suppress some longstanding ncurses extensions to termcap format, e.g., "\s" for
-L Force source translation to terminfo format using the long C variable names listed
-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, new-
line, key_backspace, key_left, and key_down, then attempts to use obsolete termcap
capabilities to deduce correct values. It also normally suppresses output of obso-
lete termcap capabilities such as bs. This option forces a more literal transla-
tion that also preserves the obsolete capabilities.
-odir Write compiled entries to given database location. Overrides the TERMINFO environ-
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 writ-
ten, 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 are commented-out.
-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 show-
ing tic's progress. The optional parameter n is a number from 1 to 10, inclusive,
indicating the desired level of detail of information. 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.
-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 ter-
minfo(5)]. Each description in the file describes the capabilities of a particular
If file is ``-'', then the data is read from the standard input. The file parame-
ter 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 /usr/share/terminfo to complete the entry. (Entries created
from file will be used first. tic duplicates the capabilities in entry-name for the cur-
rent entry, with the exception of those capabilities that explicitly are defined in the
When an entry, e.g., entry_name_1, contains a use=entry_name_2 field, any canceled capa-
bilities in entry_name_2 must also appear in entry_name_1 before use= for these capabili-
ties 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 dan-
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 anywhere in the source file, or anywhere in
the file tree rooted at TERMINFO (if TERMINFO is defined), or in the user's $HOME/.ter-
minfo database (if it exists), or (finally) anywhere in the system's file tree of compiled
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(1M), captoinfo(1M), infotocap(1M), toe(1M), curses(3X), term(5). terminfo(5).
This describes ncurses version 5.9 (patch 20130511).
Eric S. Raymond <firstname.lastname@example.org> and
Thomas E. Dickey <email@example.com>