[OS X TeX] Drawing diagrams: what's better?

David Watson dewatson at me.com
Mon May 17 10:49:54 EDT 2010

On May 17, 2010, at 9:02 AM, John B. Thoo 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.

If you are drawing diagrams, I think Tikz provides beautiful output, but perhaps a steeper learning curve.
Definitely look through the wonderful manual and see if the examples there are appropriate for the types of diagrams you wish to prepare.

Inkscape is probably more suited as a free replacement for Illustrator, although it isn't marketed as such.
You can export svg, eps, ps, and pdf (depending on your Mac OS X version), which is valuable if you appreciate such things as vector artwork that can be scaled without loss of resolution.
I save my work as eps files (beware that Inkscape doesn't output a proper bounding box!) which I convert to pdf with epstopdf.

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.
They all require more or less of learning curve in order to produce plots that are informative, but I think the final product is well worth the trouble.

It's hard to know "what's better" without knowing what you are trying to do.

Good luck!

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