[OS X TeX] Who should use (La)TeX - who is able to use it?

Maarten Sneep maarten.sneep at xs4all.nl
Thu Nov 18 05:49:45 EST 2004

On 18 nov 2004, at 0:57, Jack Kuipers wrote:

> I use TeXShop ie TeX/LaTeX but I am not familiar with metapost, mfpic, 
> and/or  xfig.
> Are they packages, graphics apps, or utilities. They are discussed 
> where?

metapost is a variant of metafont, but designed to produce postscript 
output. Both metafont and tex were designed by Donald Knuth, and as 
such metapost can be seen as the counterpart of tex for designing 
figures, instead of typesetting. If you're comfortable with latex, then 
getting started with metapost should be a feasible. It is however 
drawing with your eyes closed: you define your picture in a text-file.

For graphs a special module exists, making it easy to produce graphs 
from ASCII data-files. For other figures, the use can be a bit more 
challenging (although I created all the figures in my thesis with 
metapost - and some aid of a pre-release version of pstoedit, a 
translator of eps to "something else", including metapost and xfig.

mfpic is similar, but different, iirc. It uses metafont to create a 
high-resolution image of metafont code, and uses this single letter as 
a figure.

xfig is a interactive drawing program, mainly suited for technical 
diagrams (not an illustrator replacement). It runs under X11, and 
requires, eh, /some/ getting used to - ie the user interface is a bit 


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