ppm - portable pixmap file format


   The  portable  pixmap format is a lowest common denominator color image
   file format.

   It should be noted that this format is egregiously inefficient.  It  is
   highly  redundant, while containing a lot of information that the human
   eye can't even discern.  Furthermore, the  format  allows  very  little
   information  about  the  image besides basic color, which means you may
   have to couple a file in this format with other independent information
   to get any decent use out of it.  However, it is very easy to write and
   analyze programs to process this format, and that is the point.

   It should also be noted that files often  conform  to  this  format  in
   every respect except the precise semantics of the sample values.  These
   files are useful because of the way PPM  is  used  as  an  intermediary
   format.   They  are  informally  called PPM files, but to be absolutely
   precise, you should indicate the variation from true PPM.  For example,
   "PPM using the red, green, and blue colors that the scanner in question

   The format definition is as follows.

   A PPM file consists of a sequence of one or more PPM images. There  are
   no data, delimiters, or padding before, after, or between images.

   Each PPM image consists of the following:

   - A  "magic number" for identifying the file type.  A ppm image's magic
     number is the two characters "P6".

   - Whitespace (blanks, TABs, CRs, LFs).

   - A width, formatted as ASCII characters in decimal.

   - Whitespace.

   - A height, again in ASCII decimal.

   - Whitespace.

   - The maximum color value (Maxval), again in ASCII  decimal.   Must  be
     less than 65536.

   - Newline or other single whitespace character.

   - A  raster  of  Width * Height pixels, proceeding through the image in
     normal English reading order.  Each pixel is a triplet of red, green,
     and  blue samples, in that order.  Each sample is represented in pure
     binary by either 1 or 2 bytes.  If the Maxval is less than 256, it is
     1  byte.   Otherwise,  it  is  2 bytes.  The most significant byte is

   - In  the  raster,  the  sample  values  are  "nonlinear."   They   are
     proportional  to  the  intensity  of the CIE Rec. 709 red, green, and
     blue in the pixel, adjusted  by  the  CIE  Rec.  709  gamma  transfer
     function.   (That  transfer  function specifies a gamma number of 2.2
     and has a linear section for small intensities).  A value  of  Maxval
     for  all  three samples represents CIE D65 white and the most intense
     color in the color universe of which the image  is  part  (the  color
     universe is all the colors in all images to which this image might be

   - Note that a common variation on the PPM format is to have the  sample
     values  be "linear," i.e. as specified above except without the gamma
     adjustment.  pnmgamma takes such a PPM variant as input and  produces
     a true PPM as output.

   - Characters  from  a  "#"  to  the next end-of-line, before the maxval
     line, are comments and are ignored.

   Note that you can use pnmdepth to convert between a the format  with  1
   byte per sample and the one with 2 bytes per sample.

   There  is  actually  another  version  of the PPM format that is fairly
   rare: "plain" PPM format.  The format above, which generally considered
   the  normal one, is known as the "raw" PPM format.  See pbm(5) for some
   commentary on how plain and raw formats relate to one another.

   The difference in the plain format is:

   - There is exactly one image in a file.

   - The magic number is P3 instead of P6.

   - Each sample in the raster is represented as an ASCII  decimal  number
     (of arbitrary size).

   - Each sample in the raster has white space before and after it.  There
     must be at least  one  character  of  white  space  between  any  two
     samples,  but there is no maximum.  There is no particular separation
     of one pixel from another -- just the required separation between the
     blue sample of one pixel from the red sample of the next pixel.

   - No line should be longer than 70 characters.

   Here is an example of a small pixmap in this format:
   # feep.ppm
   4 4
    0  0  0    0  0  0    0  0  0   15  0 15
    0  0  0    0 15  7    0  0  0    0  0  0
    0  0  0    0  0  0    0 15  7    0  0  0
   15  0 15    0  0  0    0  0  0    0  0  0

   Programs  that  read  this  format  should  be  as lenient as possible,
   accepting anything that looks remotely like a pixmap.


   Before April 2000, a raw format  PPM  file  could  not  have  a  maxval
   greater  than  255.   Hence,  it  could not have more than one byte per
   sample.  Old programs may depend on this.

   Before July 2000, there could be at most one image in a PPM file.  As a
   result,  most  tools  to  process PPM files ignore (and don't read) any
   data after the first image.


   giftopnm(1),  gouldtoppm(1),  ilbmtoppm(1),  imgtoppm(1),  mtvtoppm(1),
   pcxtoppm(1),   pgmtoppm(1),   pi1toppm(1),   picttoppm(1),  pjtoppm(1),
   qrttoppm(1),  rawtoppm(1),  rgb3toppm(1),   sldtoppm(1),   spctoppm(1),
   sputoppm(1),   tgatoppm(1),   ximtoppm(1),   xpmtoppm(1),  yuvtoppm(1),
   ppmtoacad(1),  ppmtogif(1),  ppmtoicr(1),  ppmtoilbm(1),   ppmtopcx(1),
   ppmtopgm(1),   ppmtopi1(1),   ppmtopict(1),  ppmtopj(1),  ppmtopuzz(1),
   ppmtorgb3(1),  ppmtosixel(1),  ppmtotga(1),  ppmtouil(1),  ppmtoxpm(1),
   ppmtoyuv(1),   ppmdither(1),   ppmforge(1),   ppmhist(1),   ppmmake(1),
   ppmpat(1), ppmquant(1), ppmquantall(1), ppmrelief(1),  pnm(5),  pgm(5),


   Copyright (C) 1989, 1991 by Jef Poskanzer.

                             08 April 2000                          ppm(5)


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