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Downloading DATAPLOT Auxillary Files

Introduction The Dataplot auxillary files consist of the following:
  • The online help files.
  • Sample data files.
  • Sample Dataplot macros.
  • Various other files.
  • The Tcl/Tk scripts used to implement the Dataplot graphical interface (GUI).
  • The ASCII files that implement the contents of the menus in the Dataplot GUI.
Note that all of the above are ASCII text files.

The Tcl/Tk script files and the GUI menu files are used only by the GUI version of Dataplot. All the other files are common to both the command line version and the GUI version of Dataplot.

Download Auxillary Files You can download the Dataplot auxillary files (updated 12/20/2013).

The following previous versions of the auxillary files are also available:

Graphical User Interface: Based on Tcl/Tk and Expect Scripting Languages The Dataplot GUI is implemented using the freely downloadable Tcl/Tk and Expect utilities. These utilities are quite popular, so it is possible that they may already be installed on your local system (e.g., they are part of the standard Red Hat Fedora installation).

Tcl/Tk is a scripting language (e.g., Perl, Python, C-shell scripts) as oppossed to a programming language (e.g., C or Java). The Dataplot GUI is implemented as a collection of Tcl/Tk scripts. Note that the contents of the menus in the Dataplot GUI are actually read from ASCII text files (these are referred to as the menu files). In a sense, this approach decouples the GUI from the underlying Dataplot. That is, the GUI essentially builds commands that are passed to the underlying Dataplot and then returns the alphanumeric and graphical output from Dataplot to the appropriate GUI windows. Expect is an extension of the Tcl/Tk scripting language. The role of Expect is to handle the communications from the GUI to the underlying Dataplot. If Expect is not available, then Tcl/Tk uses a different, Tcl/Tk based method for handling this communication. That is, Expect is used if available, but it is not required.

Using this Tcl/Tk approach has the following advantages:

  • The same Tcl/Tk scripts run under Unix, the PC, and MAC OSX.

  • Using a scripting language allows quicker development and maintenance than using a C based interface.
There are also some disadvanteges to this approach:
  • Decoupling the GUI from the Dataplot executable makes error checking a bit more awkward (i.e., the error checking occurs within Dataplot, not when data is entered into the menu).

  • C and Java interfaces can be faster. In practice, with current computer technology, this is really only a problem with the data spreadsheet. If you have large or moderately large data sets, maintaining the data spreadsheet can cause performance problems. The Dataplot GUI does allow you to turn the data sheet off. For 500 or fewer rows of data, this is generally not a problem. For more than 1,000 rows, I recommend turning off the spreadsheet before reading your data. Between 500 and 1,000 rows is more a judgement call. Basically, if it takes too long for your taste, go ahead and turn the spreadsheet off.

    Also, commercial C based GUI's can be be more sophisticated than the Dataplot GUI. However, fairly involved GUI's can in fact be written using a scripting language.

  • In the PC environment, full Windows functionality can be more problematic. That is, Tcl/Tk needs full control over the Windows. This makes it difficult to implement Windows functionality at the Dataplot level.
For us, the advantage of using a scripting language to write a GUI that runs under Windows, Unix, and MAC OSX outweighs the disadvantages. As we are not a software company, we simply do not have the resources to write and maintain native-mode C based GUI's for multiple platforms. Java does provide an alternative approach (Java wasn't a viable option when Bob Lipman originally wrote the Dataplot GUI) to writing a portable GUI, but I don't know if we will pursue this.
Downloading and Installing Tcl/Tk and Expect In order to use the Dataplot GUI, Tcl/Tk and, optionally, Expect need to be installed on your system. Under Linux/Unix platforms, Tcl/Tk will more than likely already be installed. For most common flavors of Linux, binary installation packages will be available.

If Tcl/Tk is not installed on your system and you cannot find a binary package install for your system, you can build it from source. It can be downloaded at

If you need assistance installing Tcl/Tk, check with your local system administrator. These utilities have their own install prodedures. See the installation notes for assistance.

Note that these products are independent of Dataplot and we do not support them.

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Date created: 06/05/2001
Last updated: 12/20/2013

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