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"


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.

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 have an old verison of Perl or need a newer version than came with Perl (to get some bug fixes, for example).


Perl 5.6.0 or later is required, along with Pod::Simple 3.06. (3.07 or later is recommended, included with Perl 5.10.0 or later.) Encode is also required (included in Perl core since 5.8.0).

The troff/nroff generated by Pod::Man should be compatible with any troff or nroff implementation with the -man macro set. 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 most of the bugs have been weeded out.

The test suite includes a formatting and spelling check of all of the POD documentation. To check formatting, Test::Pod is required. To check spelling, Pod::Spell and either aspell or ispell with the american dictionary are also required. The user's path is searched for aspell or ispell and aspell is preferred. Spelling tests are disabled by default since spelling dictionaries differ too much between systems. To enable those tests, set RRA_MAINTAINER_TESTS to a true value.


The distribution:

podlators 4.08 2016-09-25 tar.gz (PGP signature) tar.xz (PGP signature)

An archive of older releases is also available.

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


You can also browse the current development source.


User documentation:

Developer documentation:


Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 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.

Last spun 2016-09-25 from thread modified 2016-01-03