We move from making unnecessary efforts, the exertions of force, to making necessary efforts: the direction of effortlessness. In this the prime maxim is: honor necessity, honor sufficiency.

— Robert Fripp, "The Road to Graceland"


podlators contains Pod::Man and Pod::Text modules which convert POD input to *roff source output, suitable for man pages, or plain text. It also includes several subclasses of Pod::Text for formatted output to terminals with various capabilities. It is the source package for the Pod::Man and Pod::Text modules included with Perl.


POD is the Plain Old Documentation format, the documentation language used for all of Perl's documentation. I learned it to document Perl modules, started using it for Perl scripts as well, and discovered it was the most convenient way I've found to write program documentation. It's extremely simple, well-designed for writing Unix manual pages (and I'm a traditionalist who thinks that any program should have a regular manual page), and easily readable in the raw format by humans.

The translators into text and nroff (for manual pages) included in the Perl distribution had various bugs, however, and used their own ad hoc parsers, so when I started running into those bugs and when a new generic parser (Pod::Parser) was written, I decided to rewrite the two translators that I use the most and fix the bugs that were bothering me. This package is the result.

podlators contains two main modules, Pod::Man and Pod::Text. The former converts POD into nroff/troff source and the latter into plain text (with various options controlling some of the formatting). There are also several subclasses of Pod::Text for generating slightly formatted text using color or other terminal control escapes, and a general utility module, Pod::ParseLink, for parsing the POD L<> formatting sequences. Also included in this package are the pod2text and pod2man driver scripts.

Both Pod::Text and Pod::Man provide a variety of options for fine-tuning their output. Pod::Man also tries to massage input text where appropriate to produce better output when run through nroff or troff, such as distinguishing between different types of hyphens.

As of Perl 5.6.0, my implementation was included in Perl core, and each release of Perl will have the at-the-time most current version of podlators included. You therefore only need to install this package yourself if you need a newer version than came with Perl (to get some bug fixes, for example).


This module requires Perl 5.10 or later and Pod::Simple 3.26 or later. (Pod::Simple 3.26 was included in Perl 5.17.10.)

The troff/nroff generated by Pod::Man should be compatible with any troff or nroff implementation with the -man macro set, including mandoc. It is primarily tested by me under GNU groff, but Perl users send bug reports for a wide variety of implementations and Pod::Man is used to generate all of Perl's own manual pages, so hopefully most of the bugs have been weeded out.


The distribution:

podlators 5.01 2022-12-25 tar.gz (PGP signature) tar.xz (PGP signature)

An archive of older releases is also available.

podlators is available from CPAN as the podlators distribution.

podlators is maintained using the Git version control system. To check out the current development tree, see GitHub or clone:


Pull requests on GitHub are welcome. You can also browse the current development source.


User documentation:

Developer documentation:

API documentation:


The podlators package as a whole is covered by the following copyright and license:

Copyright 1999-2010, 2012-2022 Russ Allbery <rra@cpan.org>

This program is free software; you may redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself. This means that you may choose between the two licenses that Perl is released under: the GNU GPL and the Artistic License. Please see your Perl distribution for the details and copies of the licenses.

Some individual source files are covered by other, compatible licenses. For complete copyright and license information, see the file LICENSE in the podlators source distribution.

Last spun 2023-05-13 from thread modified 2022-12-25