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PERLPOD(1)             Perl Programmers Reference Guide             PERLPOD(1)



NAME
       perlpod - the Plain Old Documentation format

DESCRIPTION
       Pod is a simple-to-use markup language used for writing documentation for Perl, Perl programs, and Perl mod-
       ules.

       Translators are available for converting Pod to various formats like plain text, HTML, man pages, and more.

       Pod markup consists of three basic kinds of paragraphs: ordinary, verbatim, and command.

       Ordinary Paragraph

       Most paragraphs in your documentation will be ordinary blocks of text, like this one.  You can simply type in
       your text without any markup whatsoever, and with just a blank line before and after.  When it gets formatted,
       it will undergo minimal formatting, like being rewrapped, probably put into a proportionally spaced font, and
       maybe even justified.

       You can use formatting codes in ordinary paragraphs, for bold, italic, "code-style", hyperlinks, and more.
       Such codes are explained in the "Formatting Codes" section, below.

       Verbatim Paragraph

       Verbatim paragraphs are usually used for presenting a codeblock or other text which does not require any spe-
       cial parsing or formatting, and which shouldn't be wrapped.

       A verbatim paragraph is distinguished by having its first character be a space or a tab.  (And commonly, all
       its lines begin with spaces and/or tabs.)  It should be reproduced exactly, with tabs assumed to be on 8-column
       boundaries.  There are no special formatting codes, so you can't italicize or anything like that.  A \ means \,
       and nothing else.

       Command Paragraph

       A command paragraph is used for special treatment of whole chunks of text, usually as headings or parts of
       lists.

       All command paragraphs (which are typically only one line long) start with "=", followed by an identifier, fol-
       lowed by arbitrary text that the command can use however it pleases.  Currently recognized commands are

           =pod
           =head1 Heading Text
           =head2 Heading Text
           =head3 Heading Text
           =head4 Heading Text
           =over indentlevel
           =item stuff
           =back
           =begin format
           =end format
           =for format text...
           =encoding type
           =cut

       To explain them each in detail:

       "=head1 Heading Text"
       "=head2 Heading Text"
       "=head3 Heading Text"
       "=head4 Heading Text"
           Head1 through head4 produce headings, head1 being the highest level.  The text in the rest of this para-
           graph is the content of the heading.  For example:

             =head2 Object Attributes

           The text "Object Attributes" comprises the heading there.  (Note that head3 and head4 are recent additions,
           not supported in older Pod translators.)  The text in these heading commands can use formatting codes, as
           seen here:

             =head2 Possible Values for C<$/>

           Such commands are explained in the "Formatting Codes" section, below.

       "=over indentlevel"
       "=item stuff..."
       "=back"
           Item, over, and back require a little more explanation:  "=over" starts a region specifically for the gen-
           eration of a list using "=item" commands, or for indenting (groups of) normal paragraphs.  At the end of
           your list, use "=back" to end it.  The indentlevel option to "=over" indicates how far over to indent, gen-
           erally in ems (where one em is the width of an "M" in the document's base font) or roughly comparable
           units; if there is no indentlevel option, it defaults to four.  (And some formatters may just ignore what-
           ever indentlevel you provide.)  In the stuff in "=item stuff...", you may use formatting codes, as seen
           here:

             =item Using C<$|> to Control Buffering

           Such commands are explained in the "Formatting Codes" section, below.

           Note also that there are some basic rules to using "=over" ...  "=back" regions:

           *   Don't use "=item"s outside of an "=over" ... "=back" region.

           *   The first thing after the "=over" command should be an "=item", unless there aren't going to be any
               items at all in this "=over" ... "=back" region.

           *   Don't put "=headn" commands inside an "=over" ... "=back" region.

           *   And perhaps most importantly, keep the items consistent: either use "=item *" for all of them, to pro-
               duce bullets; or use "=item 1.", "=item 2.", etc., to produce numbered lists; or use "=item foo",
               "=item bar", etc. -- namely, things that look nothing like bullets or numbers.

               If you start with bullets or numbers, stick with them, as formatters use the first "=item" type to
               decide how to format the list.

       "=cut"
           To end a Pod block, use a blank line, then a line beginning with "=cut", and a blank line after it.  This
           lets Perl (and the Pod formatter) know that this is where Perl code is resuming.  (The blank line before
           the "=cut" is not technically necessary, but many older Pod processors require it.)

       "=pod"
           The "=pod" command by itself doesn't do much of anything, but it signals to Perl (and Pod formatters) that
           a Pod block starts here.  A Pod block starts with any command paragraph, so a "=pod" command is usually
           used just when you want to start a Pod block with an ordinary paragraph or a verbatim paragraph.  For exam-
           ple:

             =item stuff()

             This function does stuff.

             =cut

             sub stuff {
               ...
             }

             =pod

             Remember to check its return value, as in:

               stuff() || die "Couldn't do stuff!";

             =cut

       "=begin formatname"
       "=end formatname"
       "=for formatname text..."
           For, begin, and end will let you have regions of text/code/data that are not generally interpreted as nor-
           mal Pod text, but are passed directly to particular formatters, or are otherwise special.  A formatter that
           can use that format will use the region, otherwise it will be completely ignored.

           A command "=begin formatname", some paragraphs, and a command "=end formatname", mean that the text/data
           inbetween is meant for formatters that understand the special format called formatname.  For example,

             =begin html

             <hr> <img src="thang.png">
             <p> This is a raw HTML paragraph </p>

             =end html

           The command "=for formatname text..."  specifies that the remainder of just this paragraph (starting right
           after formatname) is in that special format.

             =for html <hr> <img src="thang.png">
             <p> This is a raw HTML paragraph </p>

           This means the same thing as the above "=begin html" ... "=end html" region.

           That is, with "=for", you can have only one paragraph's worth of text (i.e., the text in "=foo targetname
           text..."), but with "=begin targetname" ... "=end targetname", you can have any amount of stuff inbetween.
           (Note that there still must be a blank line after the "=begin" command and a blank line before the "=end"
           command.

           Here are some examples of how to use these:

             =begin html

             <br>Figure 1.<br><IMG SRC="figure1.png"><br>

             =end html

             =begin text

               ---------------
               |  foo        |
               |        bar  |
               ---------------

             ^^^^ Figure 1. ^^^^

             =end text

           Some format names that formatters currently are known to accept include "roff", "man", "latex", "tex",
           "text", and "html".  (Some formatters will treat some of these as synonyms.)

           A format name of "comment" is common for just making notes (presumably to yourself) that won't appear in
           any formatted version of the Pod document:

             =for comment
             Make sure that all the available options are documented!

           Some formatnames will require a leading colon (as in "=for :formatname", or "=begin :formatname" ... "=end
           :formatname"), to signal that the text is not raw data, but instead is Pod text (i.e., possibly containing
           formatting codes) that's just not for normal formatting (e.g., may not be a normal-use paragraph, but might
           be for formatting as a footnote).

       "=encoding encodingname"
           This command is used for declaring the encoding of a document.  Most users won't need this; but if your
           encoding isn't US-ASCII or Latin-1, then put a "=encoding encodingname" command early in the document so
           that pod formatters will know how to decode the document.  For encodingname, use a name recognized by the
           Encode::Supported module.  Examples:

             =encoding utf8

             =encoding koi8-r

             =encoding ShiftJIS

             =encoding big5

       And don't forget, when using any command, that the command lasts up until the end of its paragraph, not its
       line.  So in the examples below, you can see that every command needs the blank line after it, to end its para-
       graph.

       Some examples of lists include:

         =over

         =item *

         First item

         =item *

         Second item

         =back

         =over

         =item Foo()

         Description of Foo function

         =item Bar()

         Description of Bar function

         =back

       Formatting Codes

       In ordinary paragraphs and in some command paragraphs, various formatting codes (a.k.a. "interior sequences")
       can be used:

       "I<text>" -- italic text
           Used for emphasis (""be I<careful!>"") and parameters (""redo I<LABEL>"")

       "B<text>" -- bold text
           Used for switches (""perl's B<-n> switch""), programs (""some systems provide a B<chfn> for that""), empha-
           sis (""be B<careful!>""), and so on (""and that feature is known as B<autovivification>"").

       "C<code>" -- code text
           Renders code in a typewriter font, or gives some other indication that this represents program text
           (""C<gmtime($^T)>"") or some other form of computerese (""C<drwxr-xr-x>"").

       "L<name>" -- a hyperlink
           There are various syntaxes, listed below.  In the syntaxes given, "text", "name", and "section" cannot con-
           tain the characters '/' and '|'; and any '<' or '>' should be matched.

           *   "L<name>"

               Link to a Perl manual page (e.g., "L<Net::Ping>").  Note that "name" should not contain spaces.  This
               syntax is also occasionally used for references to UNIX man pages, as in "L<crontab(5)>".

           *   "L<name/"sec">" or "L<name/sec>"

               Link to a section in other manual page.  E.g., "L<perlsyn/"For Loops">"

           *   "L</"sec">" or "L</sec>" or "L<"sec">"

               Link to a section in this manual page.  E.g., "L</"Object Methods">"

           A section is started by the named heading or item.  For example, "L<perlvar/$.>" or "L<perlvar/"$.">" both
           link to the section started by ""=item $."" in perlvar.  And "L<perlsyn/For Loops>" or "L<perlsyn/"For
           Loops">" both link to the section started by ""=head2 For Loops"" in perlsyn.

           To control what text is used for display, you use ""L<text|...>"", as in:

           *   "L<text|name>"

               Link this text to that manual page.  E.g., "L<Perl Error Messages|perldiag>"

           *   "L<text|name/"sec">" or "L<text|name/sec>"

               Link this text to that section in that manual page.  E.g., "L<SWITCH statements|perlsyn/"Basic BLOCKs
               and Switch Statements">"

           *   "L<text|/"sec">" or "L<text|/sec>" or "L<text|"sec">"

               Link this text to that section in this manual page.  E.g., "L<the various attributes|/"Member Data">"

           Or you can link to a web page:

           *   "L<scheme:...>"

               Links to an absolute URL.  For example, "L<http://www.perl.org/>;".  But note that there is no corre-
               sponding "L<text|scheme:...>" syntax, for various reasons.

       "E<escape>" -- a character escape
           Very similar to HTML/XML "&foo;" "entity references":

           *   "E<lt>" -- a literal < (less than)

           *   "E<gt>" -- a literal > (greater than)

           *   "E<verbar>" -- a literal | (vertical bar)

           *   "E<sol>" = a literal / (solidus)

               The above four are optional except in other formatting codes, notably "L<...>", and when preceded by a
               capital letter.

           *   "E<htmlname>"

               Some non-numeric HTML entity name, such as "E<eacute>", meaning the same thing as "&eacute;" in HTML --
               i.e., a lowercase e with an acute (/-shaped) accent.

           *   "E<number>"

               The ASCII/Latin-1/Unicode character with that number.  A leading "0x" means that number is hex, as in
               "E<0x201E>".  A leading "0" means that number is octal, as in "E<075>".  Otherwise number is inter-
               preted as being in decimal, as in "E<181>".

               Note that older Pod formatters might not recognize octal or hex numeric escapes, and that many format-
               ters cannot reliably render characters above 255.  (Some formatters may even have to use compromised
               renderings of Latin-1 characters, like rendering "E<eacute>" as just a plain "e".)

       "F<filename>" -- used for filenames
           Typically displayed in italics.  Example: ""F<.cshrc>""

       "S<text>" -- text contains non-breaking spaces
           This means that the words in text should not be broken across lines.  Example: "S<$x ? $y : $z>".

       "X<topic name>" -- an index entry
           This is ignored by most formatters, but some may use it for building indexes.  It always renders as
           empty-string.  Example: "X<absolutizing relative URLs>"

       "Z<>" -- a null (zero-effect) formatting code
           This is rarely used.  It's one way to get around using an E<...> code sometimes.  For example, instead of
           ""NE<lt>3"" (for "N<3") you could write ""NZ<><3"" (the "Z<>" breaks up the "N" and the "<" so they can't
           be considered the part of a (fictitious) "N<...>" code.

       Most of the time, you will need only a single set of angle brackets to delimit the beginning and end of format-
       ting codes.  However, sometimes you will want to put a real right angle bracket (a greater-than sign, '>')
       inside of a formatting code.  This is particularly common when using a formatting code to provide a different
       font-type for a snippet of code.  As with all things in Perl, there is more than one way to do it.  One way is
       to simply escape the closing bracket using an "E" code:

           C<$a E<lt>=E<gt> $b>

       This will produce: ""$a <=> $b""

       A more readable, and perhaps more "plain" way is to use an alternate set of delimiters that doesn't require a
       single ">" to be escaped.  With the Pod formatters that are standard starting with perl5.5.660, doubled angle
       brackets ("<<" and ">>") may be used if and only if there is whitespace right after the opening delimiter and
       whitespace right before the closing delimiter!  For example, the following will do the trick:

           C<< $a <=> $b >>

       In fact, you can use as many repeated angle-brackets as you like so long as you have the same number of them in
       the opening and closing delimiters, and make sure that whitespace immediately follows the last '<' of the open-
       ing delimiter, and immediately precedes the first '>' of the closing delimiter.  (The whitespace is ignored.)
       So the following will also work:

           C<<< $a <=> $b >>>
           C<<<<  $a <=> $b     >>>>

       And they all mean exactly the same as this:

           C<$a E<lt>=E<gt> $b>

       As a further example, this means that if you wanted to put these bits of code in "C" (code) style:

           open(X, ">>thing.dat") || die $!
           $foo->bar();

       you could do it like so:

           C<<< open(X, ">>thing.dat") || die $! >>>
           C<< $foo->bar(); >>

       which is presumably easier to read than the old way:

           C<open(X, "E<gt>E<gt>thing.dat") || die $!>
           C<$foo-E<gt>bar();>

       This is currently supported by pod2text (Pod::Text), pod2man (Pod::Man), and any other pod2xxx or Pod::Xxxx
       translators that use Pod::Parser 1.093 or later, or Pod::Tree 1.02 or later.

       The Intent

       The intent is simplicity of use, not power of expression.  Paragraphs look like paragraphs (block format), so
       that they stand out visually, and so that I could run them through "fmt" easily to reformat them (that's F7 in
       my version of vi, or Esc Q in my version of emacs).  I wanted the translator to always leave the "'" and "'"
       and """ quotes alone, in verbatim mode, so I could slurp in a working program, shift it over four spaces, and
       have it print out, er, verbatim.  And presumably in a monospace font.

       The Pod format is not necessarily sufficient for writing a book.  Pod is just meant to be an idiot-proof common
       source for nroff, HTML, TeX, and other markup languages, as used for online documentation.  Translators exist
       for pod2text, pod2html, pod2man (that's for nroff(1) and troff(1)), pod2latex, and pod2fm.  Various others are
       available in CPAN.

       Embedding Pods in Perl Modules

       You can embed Pod documentation in your Perl modules and scripts.  Start your documentation with an empty line,
       a "=head1" command at the beginning, and end it with a "=cut" command and an empty line.  Perl will ignore the
       Pod text.  See any of the supplied library modules for examples.  If you're going to put your Pod at the end of
       the file, and you're using an __END__ or __DATA__ cut mark, make sure to put an empty line there before the
       first Pod command.

         __END__

         =head1 NAME

         Time::Local - efficiently compute time from local and GMT time

       Without that empty line before the "=head1", many translators wouldn't have recognized the "=head1" as starting
       a Pod block.

       Hints for Writing Pod


       ?   The podchecker command is provided for checking Pod syntax for errors and warnings.  For example, it checks
           for completely blank lines in Pod blocks and for unknown commands and formatting codes.  You should still
           also pass your document through one or more translators and proofread the result, or print out the result
           and proofread that.  Some of the problems found may be bugs in the translators, which you may or may not
           wish to work around.

       ?   If you're more familiar with writing in HTML than with writing in Pod, you can try your hand at writing
           documentation in simple HTML, and converting it to Pod with the experimental Pod::HTML2Pod module, (avail-
           able in CPAN), and looking at the resulting code.  The experimental Pod::PXML module in CPAN might also be
           useful.

       ?   Many older Pod translators require the lines before every Pod command and after every Pod command (includ-
           ing "=cut"!) to be a blank line.  Having something like this:

            # - - - - - - - - - - - -
            =item $firecracker->boom()

            This noisily detonates the firecracker object.
            =cut
            sub boom {
            ...

           ...will make such Pod translators completely fail to see the Pod block at all.

           Instead, have it like this:

            # - - - - - - - - - - - -

            =item $firecracker->boom()

            This noisily detonates the firecracker object.

            =cut

            sub boom {
            ...

       ?   Some older Pod translators require paragraphs (including command paragraphs like "=head2 Functions") to be
           separated by completely empty lines.  If you have an apparently empty line with some spaces on it, this
           might not count as a separator for those translators, and that could cause odd formatting.

       ?   Older translators might add wording around an L<> link, so that "L<Foo::Bar>" may become "the Foo::Bar man-
           page", for example.  So you shouldn't write things like "the L<foo> documentation", if you want the trans-
           lated document to read sensibly -- instead write "the L<Foo::Bar|Foo::Bar> documentation" or "L<the
           Foo::Bar documentation|Foo::Bar>", to control how the link comes out.

       ?   Going past the 70th column in a verbatim block might be ungracefully wrapped by some formatters.

SEE ALSO
       perlpodspec, "PODs: Embedded Documentation" in perlsyn, perlnewmod, perldoc, pod2html, pod2man, podchecker.

AUTHOR
       Larry Wall, Sean M. Burke



perl v5.8.8                       2006-01-07                        PERLPOD(1)