_traceattr(3) curses debugging routines

Other Alias

_tracef, _tracedump, _traceattr2, _nc_tracebits, _tracecchar_t, _tracecchar_t2, _tracechar, _tracechtype, _tracechtype2, _tracemouse, trace


#include <curses.h>

void _tracef(const char *format, ...);
void _tracedump(const char *label, WINDOW *win);
char *_traceattr(attr_t attr);
char *_traceattr2(int buffer, chtype ch);
char *_nc_tracebits(void);
char * _tracecchar_t(const cchar_t *string);
char * _tracecchar_t2(int buffer, const cchar_t *string);
char *_tracechar(int ch);
char *_tracechtype(chtype ch);
char *_tracechtype2(int buffer, chtype ch);
char *_tracemouse(const MEVENT *event);
void trace(const unsigned int param);


The trace routines are used for debugging the ncurses libraries, as well as applications which use the ncurses libraries. These functions are normally available only with the debugging library e.g., libncurses_g.a, but may be compiled into any model (shared, static, profile) by defining the symbol TRACE. Additionally, some functions are only available with the wide-character configuration of the libraries.

The principal parts of this interface are

  • trace, which selectively enables different tracing features, and
  • _tracef, which writes formatted data to the trace file.

Calling trace with a nonzero parameter opens the file trace in the current directory for output. The parameter is formed by OR'ing values from the list of TRACE_xxx definitions in <curses.h>. These include:

turn off tracing.
trace user and system times of updates.
trace tputs calls.
trace update actions, old & new screens.
trace cursor movement and scrolling.
trace all character outputs.
trace all update actions. The old and new screen contents are written to the trace file for each refresh.
trace all curses calls. The parameters for each call are traced, as well as return values.
trace virtual character puts, i.e., calls to addch.
trace low-level input processing, including timeouts.
trace state of TTY control bits.
trace internal/nested calls.
trace per-character calls.
trace read/write of terminfo/termcap data.
trace changes to video attributes and colors.
maximum trace level, enables all of the separate trace features.

Some tracing features are enabled whenever the trace parameter is nonzero. Some features overlap. The specific names are used as a guideline.

The other functions either return a pointer to a string-area (allocated by the corresponding function), or return no value (such as _tracedump, which implements the screen dump for TRACE_UPDATE). The caller should not free these strings, since the allocation is reused on successive calls. To work around the problem of a single string-area per function, some use a buffer-number parameter, telling the library to allocate additional string-areas.

These functions check the NCURSES_TRACE environment variable, to set the tracing feature as if trace was called:

filter, initscr, new_prescr, newterm, nofilter, restartterm, ripoffline, setupterm, slk_init, tgetent, use_env, use_extended_names, use_tioctl


Routines which return a value are designed to be used as parameters to the _tracef routine.


These functions are not part of the XSI interface. Some other curses implementations are known to have similar, undocumented features, but they are not compatible with ncurses.