[OS X TeX] Re: Drawing diagrams: what's better?
John B. Thoo
jthoo at yccd.edu
Mon Jun 14 19:02:21 EDT 2010
On May 17, 2010, at 10:02 AM, John B. Thoo (that's me!) wrote:
> Hi, everyone. I hope this isn't a FAQ: Is it better to draw
> diagrams using something like PSTricks or Tikz, or something like
> xfig or Inkscape? What are the pros and cons? TIA.
First, I'm sorry that I didn't thank everyone who replied and didn't
post a summary more promptly. So, thanks to Alan Munn, David Watson,
Peter Dyballa, Adam Fern, Adam Goldstein, Tim Brophy, Luís Vitório
Cargnini, Josep Font, Joseph Slater, and Robert Morelli. (Please
excuse me if I've left off anyone.) And here is a summary.
For coded graphics, the following were suggested:
(a) PSTricks: If you want to use pdflatex, then the following packages
For standalone drawing programs, the following were suggested:
(a) Inkscape <http://www.inkscape.org/> (as a free replacement for
can export svg, eps, ps, and pdf (depending on your Mac OS X
version). David W warned, "I save my work as eps files (beware that
Inkscape doesn't output a proper bounding box!) which I convert to pdf
(b) xfig <http://xfig.org/>
Adam G informs, "So far as I know xfig is pretty much dead." Joe
S seems to confirm this, saying "jfig is a continued development of
xfig, but with reduced export options."
(c) GeoGebra <http://www.geogebra.org/cms/>:
which Tim B tells "can produce beautiful art work and has an
option to translate it into Tikz."
(d) Ipe <http://ipe7.sourceforge.net/>:
Joseph S comments that "You can get GUI drawing and embed latex
directly," and adds, "It seems to be neglected on the mac, but is
Peter D voiced his preference for "'internal' graphics, i.e., PSTricks
or Tikz. They don't fill up your disk with a dozen of different file
types and resolutions and size adaptations to space in your document."
On which "internal" graphics to use, Alan M says, "As a user of both
PSTricks and TikZ, for most things they are equivalent; if I were
starting from scratch, I would recommend going with TikZ, since it
works seamlessly with pdflatex and xelatex, whereas pstricks needs to
be compiled with latex - dvips- ps2pdf (not
entirely accurate, but close enough)." He goes on to say, "TikZ is
also somewhat better documented, (although the documentation is not
always the easiest to understand). But the documentation for pstricks
has improved dramatically recently.... PStricks has superior
mathematical capabilities since TikZ relies on TeX's math." Finally,
"For plotting real data, though, output from e.g. R would make more
sense. (There's even a TikZ output device being developed for R,
which would be another reason to use TikZ if you are independently
In the last vein, David W says, "I've used gnuplot, Mathematica and R
for plotting mathematical/statistical data - again, using the epstopdf
route - and these programs have native "latex" output modes, should
you want to try that."
What I have done: I have used xfig. I decided that I wanted to code
my diagrams, so I experimented with PSTricks and was becoming a little
comfortable with it. One reason I posted my question is that I was
having trouble drawing overlapping Venn diagrams in PSTricks. Now I'm
trying TikZ, which is a little different from PSTricks, but I found an
example on the web on drawing Venn diagrams. I'd like to stay with
coding my (simple) diagrams if possible. I haven't tried Asymptote
and I'm afraid of Metapost.
Thanks again to everyone for his help.
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