[Previous] [Next] [Up] [Top] [Search]


pod - plain old documentation


A pod-to-whatever translator reads a pod file paragraph by paragraph, and translates it to the appropriate output format. There are three kinds of paragraphs:

A verbatim paragraph, distinguished by being indented (that is, it starts with space or tab). It should be reproduced exactly, with tabs assumed to be on 8-column boundaries. There are no special formatting escapes, so you can't italicize or anything like that. A \ means \, and nothing else.

A command. All command paragraphs start with "=", followed by an identifier, followed by arbitrary text that the command can use however it pleases. Currently recognized commands are

=head1 heading =head2 heading =item text =over N =back

An ordinary block of text. It will be filled, and maybe even justified. Certain interior sequences are recognized both here and in commands:

I<text> italicize text, used for emphasis or variables B<text> embolden text, used for switches and programs S<text> text contains non-breaking spaces C<code> literal code L<name> A link (cross reference) to name L<name> manpage L<name/ident> item in manpage L<name/"sec"> section in other manpage L<"sec"> section in this manpage (the quotes are optional) F<file> Used for filenames Z<> A zero-width character

That's it. The intent is simplicity, not power. I wanted paragraphs to 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). I wanted the translator (and not me) to worry about whether " or ' is a left quote or a right quote within filled text, and I wanted it to leave the quotes alone dammit in verbatim mode, so I could slurp in a working program, shift it over 4 spaces, and have it print out, er, verbatim. And presumably in a constant width font.

In particular, you can leave things like this verbatim in your text:

Perl FILEHANDLE $variable function() manpage(3r)

Doubtless a few other commands or sequences will need to be added along the way, but I've gotten along surprisingly well with just these.

Note that I'm not at all claiming this to be sufficient for producing a book. I'm just trying to make an idiot-proof common source for nroff, TeX, and other markup languages, as used for online documentation. Both pod2html and pod2man translators exist.


Larry Wall