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Supported Graphics Devices

Introduction 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:
  • POSTSCRIPT - a vector format developed by Adobe that is supported by many different printers and hard-copy devices. Postscript files can also be imported into many graphics editing, page publishing, and word processing applications. Both black and white and color Postscript devices are supported.

    Postscript is Dataplot's primary device for printed graphics.

    You can use the SET POSTSCRIPT CONVERT command to automatically convert the Postscript graphics to PDF format.

  • SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) - this is an XML based vector graphics protocol intended primarily for web applications. The SVG format is editable and SVG can be imported into many graphics editing programs.

  • LaTeX using EEPIC package - this is a fairly specialized driver. Its main purpose is for generating high quality presentation graphics. It will primarily be of interest to those already familiar with LaTeX who would like to incorporate LaTeX's high quality text capabilities into Dataplot graphs.

  • GENERAL - Dataplot specific metafile. This is primarily used by the Dataplot GUI (Dataplot generated graphs in GENERAL format which is used by the Tcl/Tk scripts to generate screen graphics in Tcl/Tk format).

  • Tektronix - many Tektronix models are supported (e.g., 4010, 4014, 4105, 4113, 4027, 4663, and related devices). Although this was once the default graphics device, this is now an obsolete format. It may have occasional use as an emulation device.

  • REGIS - for DEC VT-240 and VT-340 terminals. This is now an obsolete format. It may have occasional use as an emulation device.

  • HP-GL - protocol for Hewlett-Packard plotters. Note that HP printers typically support an HP-GL emulation mode. This is primarily useful on non-Windows platforms for generating vector-based graphics (Dataplot uses a vector-based model for generating graphics) on non-Windows platforms.

  • HP 2622 - Hewlett-Packard terminal, also includes many related models (2623, 2647, and others). This is now an obsolete device.

  • HP 7221 - Hewlett-Packard 7221 plotter. This is now an obsolete device.

  • QUIC - protocol used by QMS (and some Talaris) laser printers. This is now an obsolete format.

  • CGM - Computer Graphics Metafile (ANSI standard metafile). Dataplot currently only supports the clear text encoding. CGM never really seemed to catch on, so I never got around to implementing the binary encoding. Note that the LIBPLOT library (see below) also supports CGM format (both ASCII and binary).

  • DISCRETE - if you do not have a screen device available, using DISCRETE will generate a line printer type graphic to the screen.
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 available).

  • X11 - MIT windowing system that is supported on almost all Unix/Linux (including Mac OS X and Cygwin) based workstations.

  • 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 plots).

  • 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 Zeta penplotter.

  • 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 are:

  • 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 freely downloadable 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 GHOSTSCRIPT 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 POSTSCRIPT 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 Alan Heckert.

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.

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Date created: 06/05/2001
Last updated: 05/10/2019

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