The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 7, 2018 edition
IEEE Std 1003.1-2017 (Revision of IEEE Std 1003.1-2008)
Copyright © 2001-2018 IEEE and The Open Group


delta - make a delta (change) to an SCCS file (DEVELOPMENT)


[XSI] [Option Start] delta [-nps] [-g list] [-m mrlist] [-r SID] [-y[comment]] file... [Option End]


The delta utility shall be used to permanently introduce into the named SCCS files changes that were made to the files retrieved by get (called the g-files, or generated files).


The delta utility shall conform to XBD Utility Syntax Guidelines, except that the -y option has an optional option-argument. This optional option-argument shall not be presented as a separate argument.

The following options shall be supported:

-r  SID
Uniquely identify which delta is to be made to the SCCS file. The use of this option shall be necessary only if two or more outstanding get commands for editing (get -e) on the same SCCS file were done by the same person (login name). The SID value specified with the -r option can be either the SID specified on the get command line or the SID to be made as reported by the get utility; see get.
Suppress the report to standard output of the activity associated with each file. See the STDOUT section.
Specify retention of the edited g-file (normally removed at completion of delta processing).
-g  list
Specify a list (see get for the definition of list) of deltas that shall be ignored when the file is accessed at the change level (SID) created by this delta.
-m  mrlist
Specify a modification request (MR) number that the application shall supply as the reason for creating the new delta. This shall be used if the SCCS file has the v flag set; see admin.

If -m is not used and '-' is not specified as a file argument, and the standard input is a terminal, the prompt described in the STDOUT section shall be written to standard output before the standard input is read; if the standard input is not a terminal, no prompt shall be issued.

MRs in a list shall be separated by <blank> characters or escaped <newline> characters. An unescaped <newline> shall terminate the MR list. The escape character is <backslash>.

If the v flag has a value, it shall be taken to be the name of a program which validates the correctness of the MR numbers. If a non-zero exit status is returned from the MR number validation program, the delta utility shall terminate. (It is assumed that the MR numbers were not all valid.)

Describe the reason for making the delta. The comment shall be an arbitrary group of lines that would meet the definition of a text file. Implementations shall support comments from zero to 512 bytes and may support longer values. A null string (specified as either -y, -y "", or in response to a prompt for a comment) shall be considered a valid comment.

If -y is not specified and '-' is not specified as a file argument, and the standard input is a terminal, the prompt described in the STDOUT section shall be written to standard output before the standard input is read; if the standard input is not a terminal, no prompt shall be issued. An unescaped <newline> shall terminate the comment text. The escape character is <backslash>.

The -y option shall be required if the file operand is specified as '-'.

Write (to standard output) the SCCS file differences before and after the delta is applied in diff format; see diff.


The following operand shall be supported:

A pathname of an existing SCCS file or a directory. If file is a directory, the delta utility shall behave as though each file in the directory were specified as a named file, except that non-SCCS files (last component of the pathname does not begin with s.) and unreadable files shall be silently ignored.

If exactly one file operand appears, and it is '-', the standard input shall be read; each line of the standard input shall be taken to be the name of an SCCS file to be processed. Non-SCCS files and unreadable files shall be silently ignored.


The standard input shall be a text file used only in the following cases:


Input files shall be text files whose data is to be included in the SCCS files. If the first character of any line of an input file is <SOH> in the POSIX locale, the results are unspecified. If this file contains more than 99999 lines, the number of lines recorded in the header for this file shall be 99999 for this delta.


The following environment variables shall affect the execution of delta:

Provide a default value for the internationalization variables that are unset or null. (See XBD Internationalization Variables for the precedence of internationalization variables used to determine the values of locale categories.)
If set to a non-empty string value, override the values of all the other internationalization variables.
Determine the locale for the interpretation of sequences of bytes of text data as characters (for example, single-byte as opposed to multi-byte characters in arguments and input files).
Determine the locale that should be used to affect the format and contents of diagnostic messages written to standard error, and informative messages written to standard output.
Determine the location of message catalogs for the processing of LC_MESSAGES.
Determine the timezone in which the time and date are written in the SCCS file. If the TZ variable is unset or NULL, an unspecified system default timezone is used.


If SIGINT is caught, temporary files shall be cleaned up and delta shall exit with a non-zero exit code. The standard action shall be taken for all other signals; see Utility Description Defaults.


The standard output shall be used only for the following messages in the POSIX locale:


The standard error shall be used only for diagnostic messages.


Any SCCS files updated shall be files of an unspecified format.


System Date and Time

When a delta is added to an SCCS file, the system date and time shall be recorded for the new delta. If a get is performed using an SCCS file with a date recorded apparently in the future, the behavior is unspecified.


The following exit values shall be returned:

Successful completion.
An error occurred.



The following sections are informative.


Problems can arise if the system date and time have been modified (for example, put forward and then back again, or unsynchronized clocks across a network) and can also arise when different values of the TZ environment variable are used.

Problems of a similar nature can also arise for the operation of the get utility, which records the date and time in the file body.








Utility Description Defaults, admin, diff, get, prs, rmdel

XBD Environment Variables, Utility Syntax Guidelines


First released in Issue 2.

Issue 5

The output format description in the STDOUT section is corrected.

Issue 6

The APPLICATION USAGE section is added.

The normative text is reworded to avoid use of the term "must" for application requirements.

The Open Group Base Resolution bwg2001-007 is applied as follows:

New text is added to the EXTENDED DESCRIPTION and APPLICATION USAGE sections regarding how the system date and time may be taken into account, and the TZ environment variable is added to the ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES section as per The Open Group Base Resolution bwg2001-007.

Issue 7

SD5-XCU-ERN-97 is applied, updating the SYNOPSIS.

End of informative text.


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