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The Termcap Library

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2.1 Terminal Description Format

Aside from comments (lines starting with `#', which are ignored), each nonblank line in the termcap data base is a terminal description. A terminal description is nominally a single line, but it can be split into multiple lines by inserting the two characters `\ newline'. This sequence is ignored wherever it appears in a description.

The preferred way to split the description is between capabilities: insert the four characters `: \ newline tab' immediately before any colon. This allows each sub-line to start with some indentation. This works because, after the `\ newline' are ignored, the result is `: tab :'; the first colon ends the preceding capability and the second colon starts the next capability. If you split with `\ newline' alone, you may not add any indentation after them.

Here is a real example of a terminal description:

dw|vt52|DEC vt52:\
        :cm=\EY%+ %+ :co#80:li#24:\

Each terminal description begins with several names for the terminal type. The names are separated by `|' characters, and a colon ends the last name. The first name should be two characters long; it exists only for the sake of very old Unix systems and is never used in modern systems. The last name should be a fully verbose name such as "DEC vt52" or "Ann Arbor Ambassador with 48 lines". The other names should include whatever the user ought to be able to specify to get this terminal type, such as `vt52' or `aaa-48'. See section 2.3 Terminal Type Name Conventions, for information on how to choose terminal type names.

After the terminal type names come the terminal capabilities, separated by colons and with a colon after the last one. Each capability has a two-letter name, such as `cm' for "cursor motion string" or `li' for "number of display lines".

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