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Cl-ply is a library to handle PLY format which is also known as the Stanford Triangle Format.


Here shows hot to read PLY file with cl-ply.

The following is an example PLY file:

format ascii 1.0
comment this is test ply data.
element vertex 2
property float x
property float y
property float z
element face 2
property list uchar int vertex_indices
0.0 1.0 2.0
3.0 4.0 5.0
4 0 1 2 3
4 4 5 6 7

It contains two elements, vertex that has three float properties and face that has a list property of integer.

You can read the PLY file as following:

;; open a PLY file, closed automatically when control leaves
(cl-ply:with-ply-for-reading (plyfile #P"/path/to/file.ply")
  ;; read and print vertex elements
  (loop repeat (cl-ply:ply-element-size plyfile "vertex")
     do (format t "element vertex ~S~%"
         (cl-ply:ply-read-element plyfile "vertex")))
  ;; read and print face elements
  (loop repeat (cl-ply:ply-element-size plyfile "face")
     do (format t "element face ~S~%"
         (cl-ply:ply-read-element plyfile "face"))))


Cl-ply can be installed via Quicklisp.

(ql:quickload :cl-ply)


[Macro] with-ply-for-reading

WITH-PLY-FOR-READING (var filespec) form* => results

Opens a file stream named by filespec and creates a plyfile object, reading PLY headers from the file. The plyfile object is bound to var. with-ply evaluates form as an implicit progn with var and returns the result values. When control leaves the forms, either normally and abnormally, the file stream is automatically closed.

[Function] ply-open-for-reading

OPEN-PLY-FOR-READING filespec => plyfile

Opens a file stream named by filespec, creates a plyfile object and returns it. The plyfile object should be closed after its use.

[Function] ply-close

PLY-CLOSE plyfile => result

Closes the plyfile object plyfile. The return value is that of standard's close function.

[Function] ply-element-names

PLY-ELEMENT-NAMES plyfile => element-names

Returns all names of elements in plyfile.

[Function] ply-element-size

PLY-ELEMENT-SIZE plyfile element-name => size

Returns the number of elements named by element-name in plyfile.

[Function] ply-read-element

PLY-READ-ELEMENT plyfile element-name => result

Reads an element of element-name from plyfile and returns as a list of its properties.

[Function] ply-comments

PLY-COMMENTS plyfile => comments

Returns a list of comments in plyfile.

[Function] ply-obj-info

PLY-OBJ-INFO plyfile => obj_info

Returns object information in plyfile.


Q. Does cl-ply support writing PLY format?

A. No. Currenly, only reading PLY format is supported.

Q. Does cl-ply support reading / writing PLY format in binary type?

A. No. Currently, only ASCII type is supported.



  • Masayuki Takagi (

Copyright (c) 2013 Masayuki Takagi (


Licensed under the LLGPL License.

Masayuki Takagi