perlpod - 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
The "=pod" directive does nothing beyond telling the compiler to lay
off parsing code through the next "=cut". It's useful for adding
another paragraph to the doc if you're mixing up code and pod a lot.
Head1 and head2 produce first and second level headings, with the text in
the same paragraph as the "=headn" directive forming the heading description.
Item, over, and back require a little more explanation: "=over" starts a
section specifically for the generation of a list using "=item" commands. At
the end of your list, use "=back" to end it. You will probably want to give
"4" as the number to "=over", as some formatters will use this for indentation.
This should probably be a default. Note also that there are some basic rules
to using =item: don't use them outside of an =over/=back block, use at least
one inside an =over/=back block, you don't _have_ to include the =back if
the list just runs off the document, and perhaps most importantly, keep the
items consistent: either use "=item *" for all of them, to produce bullets,
or use "=item 1.", "=item 2.", etc., to produce numbered lists, or use
"=item foo", "=item bar", etc., i.e., things that looks nothing like bullets
or numbers. If you start with bullets or numbers, stick with them, as many
formatters use the first "=item" type to decide how to format the list.
For, begin, and end let you include sections that are not interpreted
as pod text, but passed directly to particular formatters. A formatter
that can utilize that format will use the section, otherwise it will be
completely ignored. The directive "=for" specifies that the entire next
paragraph is in the format indicated by the first word after
"=for", like this:
This is a raw HTML paragraphThe paired commands "=begin" and "=end" work very similarly to "=for", but instead of only accepting a single paragraph, all text from "=begin" to a paragraph with a matching "=end" are treated as a particular format. Here are some examples of how to use these: =begin html
literal code L
A link (cross reference) to name L manual page L item in manual page L section in other manual page L<"sec"> section in this manual page (the quotes are optional) L"sec"> ditto F Used for filenames X An index entry ZE E A zero-width character E A named character (very similar to HTML escapes) E A literal < E A literal > (these are optional except in other interior sequences and when preceded by a capital letter) E Character number n (probably in ASCII) E Some non-numeric HTML entity, such as E =back 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 B ). 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. Translators exist for B (that's for nroff(1) and troff(1)), B , B , and B . =head1 Embedding Pods in Perl Modules You can embed pod documentation in your Perl scripts. Start your documentation with a "=head1" command at the beginning, and end it with a "=cut" command. Perl will ignore the pod text. See any of the supplied library modules for examples. If you're going to put your pods at the end of the file, and you're using an __END__ or __DATA__ cut mark, make sure to put a blank line there before the first pod directive. __END__ =head1 NAME modern - I am a modern module If you had not had that blank line there, then the translators wouldn't have seen it. =head1 Common Pod Pitfalls =over 4 =item * Pod translators usually will require paragraphs to be separated by completely empty lines. If you have an apparently blank line with some spaces on it, this can cause odd formatting. =item * Translators will mostly add wording around a LE E link, so that C foo(1)E > becomes "the I (1) manpage", for example (see B for details). Thus, you shouldn't write things like C fooE manpage>, if you want the translated document to read sensibly. =item * The script F in the Perl source distribution provides skeletal checking for lines that look blank but aren't B , but is there as a placeholder until someone writes Pod::Checker. The best way to check your pod is to pass it 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. =back =head1 SEE ALSO L and L =head1 AUTHOR Larry Wall