Supported Graphics Devices
Dataplot supports a number of graphics device drivers. Some
of these (e.g., Postscript) are built-in directly and are thus
available on all implementations of Dataplot. Other drivers
require local installation (typically, this just means linking
with an appropriate graphics library) and may or may not be
available on a given implementation. Certain types of graphics
output may be post-processed by external software.
Chapter 7 of Volume I
of the online Reference Manual discusses the commands for
specifying the graphics devices. The
Frequently Asked Questions discusses
the issues of printing graphs and importing graphs into word
processors in the PC Windows environment.
Built-in Device Drivers
Dataplot supports the following built-in device drivers:
Device Drivers That May Require Some Local Installation
In addition, the following devices are available, but may
require some local installation (usually linking the proper
device library). The installation notes give instructions for
installing these devices (when the appropriate vendor library is
- X11 - MIT windowing system that is supported on almost
all Unix/Linux (including Mac OS X and Cygwin) based
- QWIN - this is used for screen graphics for the Intel
compiler on Windows systems.
- GD <PNG/JPEG> - creates PNG, JPEG, and GIF format
files using the GD library of Thomas Bouttel. This is
the library used by Perl (and a number of other popular
freeware programs). GD should be available (or easy
to install if not already installed) on most Unix/Linux
systems. These bit-mapped formats are suppported by
most web browsers. They can also be used for importing
bit-mapped graphics into word processing programs.
Also, there are a number of software packages (e.g.,
Image Magick and NetPBM) that convert these bit-map
formats to many other bit-map formats.
- AQUATERM - this is a library for generating screen
graphics under Mac OS X. Note that Aquaterm windows
can be opened in a standard terminal window (the
X11 device must be opened from an xterm window).
- LIBPLOT - this is the Unix/Linux LIBPLOT library. It
supports 14 different devices. Although 8 of these
are redundant to devices already supported by Dataplot,
it does add PNM bit-map format, Adobe Illustrator, Unix
metafile, HP PCL printer protocol, XFIG format, and
CGM binary format.
- Cairo - this uses the Cairo graphics library. Currently,
this is only implemented for Linux systems. It should be
considered "beta" at this time (2019/05). The Cairo driver
supports Postscript/PDF, SVG, GD, and X11. We hope to add
GDI (for Windows) and Quartz (for MacOS) in the future.
Although this library primarily supports drivers that are
already available in Dataplot, the advantage of Cairo is
that graphs will have a more consistent appearance across
devices (this is particularly true in regard to text on
- Calcomp/Zeta - uses the standard Calcomp library. At one
time, penplotters were a common output device and many
of these devices were based on the Calcomp library. This
is now an obsolete device. It may on occasion be useful
as an emulation device. The Zeta library is a slightly
modified version of the library that was used by the
- LAHEY - available only for the PC Windows version built
with a very old version of the LAHEY compiler (for
Windows 3.1). As these compilers are no longer supported,
this is an obsolete device.
The graphics library for the current version of the Lahey
compilers is Winteractor. Although I have done some coding
with this library, there are still some issues and these
drivers are not yet functional.
- VGA - available for the PC Windows version built with
the OTG compiler only. As we no longer support this
compiler with Dataplot, this is an obsolete driver.
- Sun CGI - this device was for the Sun CGI library that
ran in either a gfxtool or suntool window. Sun no longer
supports these window types or the CGI library.
Adding New Device Drivers
I have a number of devices that I plan to add support for in
Dataplot. Feel free to send me requests for additional
device support. My criteria for deciding to add a device
- Availability - the most basic criterion is simply
whether or not I have a device (and related, the
documentation) to do the testing.
- Usefulness - I have limited time/resources to develop
device drivers for Dataplot. Therefore, device
drivers with wide applicability will take precedence
over a device driver for a specific, narrowly
available device. For example, Postscript and X11
have extremely wide applicability (essentially all
Unix environments support X11, many offline devices
use Postscript). On the other hand, a device driver
for a specific printer is unlikely to get written.
Using the popular and
Ghostscript/Ghostview programs can
greatly extend the list of supported devices on the Unix
and Microsoft Windows platforms. Ghostscript/Ghostview can
read Postscript files and view them on the screen or convert
them to many other common formats. In particular, the most
common use of Ghostscript/Ghostview is to print Postscript
files on non-Postscript printers.
NOTE: Recent enhancements (as of 1/2003) to Dataplot now invoke
Ghostview or Ghostscript automatically. Specifically,
- Under Windows, the SET GHOSTSCRIPT PRINTER ON command uses
the Ghostview program GSPRINT (this is installed when
Ghostview is installed) to implement the PP command (PP
prints the most recent graph). See the
PRINTER command for details. GSPRINT uses the
generic Windows printer driver, so most Windows printers
should now be supported.
- Under Windows and Unix, the SET POSTSCRIPT CONVERT command
can be used to invoke ghostscript to automatically
convert Dataplot Postscript output to JPEG, TIFF,
PDF (Portable Document Format), or any of the four
PBM formats (PBM, PGM, PPM, and PNM). This provides
additional options for formats that can be imported into
external programs (e.g., word processors). See the
CONVERT command for details.
Dataplot Post Processor
Many years ago I wrote a post-processor for Dataplot. This
will read either Dataplot metafiles (i.e., the GENERAL device)
or Tektronix 4014 format files. There are currently 2 versions
available. One uses the Disspla subroutine library while the
other uses the Template subroutine library. Although these
libraries are no longer available, these can be used as a template
for other graphics libraries.
With the availability of Ghostview/Ghostscript, graphics editing
programs such as the GIMP, and image conversion programs such as
Image Magick and NetPBM, I don't really find any particular
need for the post processor anymore. However, the source is
available upon request (the most likely use is to adapt it to
a local graphics library).
If you are interested in the post processor, contact
The CGM metafile can be used if you have a local post-processor
that reads CGM format files. Dataplot currently only generates
clear text ecoded CGM files. Many post-processors only read
binary encoded CGM files. If you have LIBPLOT installed, you
can use the LIBPLOT CGM file.
NIST is an agency of the U.S.
Date created: 06/05/2001
Last updated: 05/10/2019
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