Reference:Notation and Basic Assumptions

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Throughout the tutorial and reference sections, a consistent notation is used to mark keywords of the scene description language, command line switches, INI file keywords and file names.

For example:

Scene description language keywords and command-line switches:

  • sphere, 4.0 * sin(45.0)
  • +W640 +H480

Syntax, optional syntax, multiple syntax, and zero or more syntax items allowed respectively:

  • [SYNTAX_ITEM...]

A float value or expression, and a vector value or expression:

  • Value_1
  • <Value_1>

Choices are represented by a vertical bar between syntax items:

  • ITEM1 | ITEM2 | ITEM3

Certain lists and arrays also require square braces as part of the language rather than the language description:

  • [ ITEM ]

New in version 3.8 these additional annotations appear throughout the documentation:

  • Change followed by a version reference and designates a behavior change
  • New followed by a version reference to designate feature addition
  • The generic form vX.y.z of the version number and it's short form vX.y currently v3.8.0 and v3.8 respectively

Note: POV-Ray is available as a command-line program on some platforms and as a GUI on others. Some of these platforms use folders to store files while others use directories. Some separate the folders and sub-folders with a slash character (/), back-slash character (\), or others. We have tried to make this documentation as generic as possible but sometimes we have to refer to folders, files, options etc., and rather than try to represent all possible combinations we sometimes simplify the documentation by referring to a hypothetical 'standard installation' of POV-Ray upon a Microsoft Windows computer.

Here are some additional assumptions to be found in the documentation:

  1. You installed POV-Ray in the default location for Windows, with the binaries in c:\Program Files\POV-Ray\vX.y and include/scene files in My Documents\POV-Ray\vX.y. If we say 'include files are stored in the include directory', we mean the directory called 'include' located immediately within the folder which was used for documents, in the above case, it would be My Documents\POV-Ray\vX.y\include. We assume you can translate that to something like /usr/local/share/povray/vX.y/include for Linux or whatever is appropriate for your platform, operating system and personal installation.
  2. POV-Ray uses INI files and/or command-line switches (if available) to choose options in all versions, but some platforms (e.g. Windows) also use dialog boxes or menu choices to set options. We will describe options assuming you are using switches or INI files when describing what the options do, as it is consistent across all platforms (all GUI versions of POV-Ray also provide a means of accepting command-line options and reading INI files from within the GUI - generally speaking, the menus and dialogs just provide an easier means of doing the same thing).
  3. You may be reading this documentation using an operating-system specific help program, web browser, physical printout, PDF viewer, or text editor. We assume you know how to get around in which ever medium you are using. If we say "See the chapter on Setting POV-Ray Options" we assume you can click, scroll, browse, flip pages or whatever to get there.