[OS X TeX] [Sort-of Off]: Plotting Software

markus bongard markus.bongard at umh.es
Wed Mar 8 04:13:12 EST 2006

gentle persons,

On 8 Mar 2006, at 04:50, Alain Schremmer wrote:
>> or, if you have additionally installed  Qgfe (and the needed  
>> Qt3.3.x  framework *installer on the same, ATG-website*), as well  
>> as Aquaterm,  you can simply select it from the "terminal"-menu -  
>> screenshot of  Qgfe running on MacOSX is here -> http:// 
>> naranja.umh.es/~atg/images/ screen-qgfe-terminals.png .
>> Aquaterm in general is just a MacOSX-native output-terminal for   
>> gnuplot (that's why it's "Aqua"–"term"), which allows native, PDF-  
>> based display of any plot (well, and it can be used from your own   
>> programs).
> Are you saying I need Qgfe on top of  Aquaterm? I looked at the  
> images and they look good. But
>    "A good knowledge of Gnuplot is required to use Qgfe."
> is ominous.

to point this out more clearly: gnuplot is a command-line based  
program, for the Mac exist at least 2 incarnations - one which is *as  
far as I remember* a Carbon-based version which includes its own  
terminal; and one, which runs on all *nix-based OSes in  the shell of  
your choice (this is the recommended version. As it was posted  
previously one should install gnuplot 4, the MacOSX version is  
available from sourceforge -> http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/ 
gnuplot/Gnuplot-4.0.0.dmg?download ). From the included ReadMe:

This version of gnuplot requires that you have AquaTerm and X11  
installed. The installer will warn if these cannot be found, but will  
continue with the installation. Gnuplot will however fail to run  
until the dependencies are resolved.

Get AquaTerm 1.0 from http://aquaterm.sourceforge.net
Install X11 from your Mac OS X install CD, or see http:// 
www.apple.com/macosx for more info.

The nice point about gnuplot is that it uses so called "terminals"  
for output. As a simplified example, the terminal "aqua" uses the  
external program Aquaterm to display "native" PDF-based plots under  
MacOSX. Additionally the X11-installation is needed, because gnuplot  
uses some libraries which are included with this package (and are not  
installed "normally" with MacOSX).

Now to Qgfe: this is a QT3-based (and therefore cross-platform) GUI  
for gnuplot - it makes interacting with gnuplot easier because  
several options and plot parameters - but not all - can be accessed  
from this GUI. The "good knowledge of gnuplot" is needed, because of  
course your input of e.g. functions or parameters has to follow the  
gnuplot conventions. The workflow normally is to start Qgfe, use the  
interface to provide the needed parameters (like: which display  
terminal (and(or output file) to use, 2D- or 3D-, data-, or functions- 
plot, fit-paramters,  etc. ). After that you click "plot" and Qgfe  
will display a window with the sequence of gnuplot commands which  
will used and send to gnuplot for the plot. This is the moment, when  
one can include additional gnuplot options or parameters which are  
not accessible from the GUI *so at this point, when needed, a "good  
knowledge of gnuplot" is clearly needed*. Click "Ok" and - if  
gnuplot, Aquaterm and X11 are installed - Qgfe will call gnuplot, and  
using the choosen display terminal (default is Aquaterm under MacOSX)  
your plot will be shown.

The mentioned precompiled version of gnuplot offers, besides native  
MacOSX-display and PDF-output based on Aquaterm, several other output  
formats like SVG, Illustrator, PostScript, fig, LaTeX, pstricks,  
pslatex, texdraw, various pixel-based formats and output to ASCII- 
tables (technically there is a "galaxy" of output terminals, if you  
need a special one, which is not included with the pre-built binary,  
you have to compile gnuplot yourself).

Maybe this is becoming too much "off-topic" for this list (?), so it  
might reasonable to communicate directly if further information is  
needed (I packaged and maintain the Qgfe-binary-, as well the other  
installers for MacOSX on http://naranja.umh.es/~atg).


Markus Bongard

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