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Downloading DATAPLOT for OS X 10.12 (Sierra)

Contact Information October 2017

Alan Heckert
Statistical Engineering Division
National Institute Of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-8980
(301) 975-2899
Jim Filliben
Statistical Engineering Division
National Institute Of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-8980
(301) 975-2855

Introduction This page contains the intstructions for downloading and installing Dataplot on the OS X 10.12 (Sierra) operating system.

The download files contain both a pre-built executable file and the source code in case you need to build from source. The pre-built executable was built on an OS X 10.12 system using the gfortran/gcc compilers.

Be aware that this is a "Unix/X11" port as oppossed to a "native" OS X application. There are two ways you can run Dataplot under OS X.

  1. You can run Dataplot in a traditional command line mode (this will be referred to as the command line version).

    The command line version can be run from either an X11 terminal window or a standard terminal window.

  2. Alternatively, you can run a Graphical User Interface (GUI). The GUI for Dataplot is written using the Tcl/Tk scripting language.
Prerequisites Before installing Dataplot, the following prerequisites are required.
  1. If X11 is not installed on your system, then you need to install it. The Dataplot executable was built and tested with the version of X11 from Apple.

  2. If you do not already have the gfortran/gcc compilers installed, you can download them at

    This page gives the installation instructions.

    The gfortran/gcc compilers can also be installed using Mac Ports (see below).

  3. Dataplot uses the Aquaterm library to generate screen graphics for the command line version of Dataplot when it is run from a standard terminal window. If Aquaterm is not installed on your system, download and run AquaTerm-1.1.1.dmg.

  4. Dataplot utilizes several libraries that can be installed using Mac Ports. Mac Ports is an open source project that has ported a large number of open source software projects to OS X.

    Note that there are several other systems for installing common Linux open source applications (specifically, Home Brew and Fink). If you are already using one of these systems, then you can install the desired libraries from these systems. However, you will need to build Dataplot from source and make a few tweaks to the build script (mostly to specify where the libraries will be located). I do not have Home Brew or Fink, so I cannot provide guidance on how to use them with Dataplot.

    The downloading and installation of Mac Ports is discussed at

    Mac Ports requires that xcode and the command line tools for xcode be installed before installing Mac Ports.

    Once Mac Ports is installed, you can install a desired software using the command

    sudo port install <name>

    where <name> is the name of the desired software.

    Mac Ports will install the libraries in the directory


    As these libraries are used by a number of Unix/Linux programs, it is possible that some or all of these may already be installed on your system. It is also possible that they may have been installed by something other than Mac Ports, so they may not be in "/opt/local/lib". If the desired libraries are not in "/opt/local/lib", we recommend that you install them using Mac Ports so that the Dataplot executable can find them.

    The specific libraries of interest are the following.

    1. GD - the GD graphics library is used to plot in the jpeg, png, gif, bmp, wbmp, tga, and tiff image formats. You can also read images in these formats. GD in turn requires several additional libraries: png, jpeg, z, freetype, pthreads, fontconfig, and tiff.

      If you need to install the GD library, enter (assuming Mac Ports is already installed)

        sudo port install gd2

    2. readline - the readline library supports command line editing and history recall (with editing).

      If you need to install the readline library, enter (assuming Mac Ports is already installed)

        sudo port install readline

    3. libplot - this is an older graphics library supported under Unix/Linux. Dataplot uses libplot to support some additional graphics formats not otherwise supported. To install libplot, enter

        sudo port install xorg-libXaw
        sudo port install plotutils +x11

    4. tcl/tk - Dataplot implements its GUI using the Tcl/Tk scripting language. If you are not interested in the GUI, you can skip this step.

      The Active States web site provides a Mac OS X specific version of Tcl/Tk that has a Mac look and feel. However, the Dataplot GUI does not work very well with this Active States Mac specific version, so we recommend using the Mac Ports version. Note that if you want to use a version of Tcl/Tk other than the one provided by Mac Ports, you will need to manually edit two files (see below).

      To install the tcl/tk software, enter

        sudo port install tcl
        sudo port install tk

If you are unable or unwilling to install Mac Ports, we also provide a Dataplot executable that is built without the Mac Ports libraries. The capabilities provided by the Mac Ports libraries are useful (support for additional graphics devices, command line editing) but not essential to running Dataplot.
Downloading Dataplot Step 1: Select Root Directory for Dataplot Installation The first step is to select the "root" directory for the Dataplot installation. Although you can make this any directory that is convenient to you, we recommend using one of the following choices:

  • /usr/local - this is the recommended choice if you have administrator priveleges on your system.

  • /Users/name - here "name" refers to your user name on your local system. This is the recommended choice if you do not have administrator priveleges on your system. The environment variable "$HOME" should refer to this directory.

If you do not use "/usr/local", then you will need to edit some files (described below) to specify correct paths.

Whatever directory you choose, we will refer to this as the Dataplot root directory in the discussion below.

Step 2: Download and Unpack the Installation File The next step is to download the Dataplot installation file dataplot.sierra.2017_10_11.tar.gz.

Assuming that you have downloaded or copied the installation file to the Dataplot root directory, you can unpack these files with the commands

    sudo gunzip dataplot.sierra.2017_10_11.tar.gz
    sudo tar -xvf dataplot.sierra.2017_10_11.tar
If you did not install Dataplot in the "/usr/local" directory or you are using a version of Tcl/Tk not in "/opt/local", then you need to edit the following files.
  • bin/dataplot and bin/dataplot.nomacports - This initiates the command line version of Dataplot. Change the line


    to the Dataplot root directory for your system.

  • bin/xdataplot - This initiates the GUI version of Dataplot. Change the lines

      dataplot_prefix=/usr/local tcl_prefix=/opt/local

    to reflect the correct paths for your system.

  • lib/dataplot/frscript/xdp - This initiates the Tcl/Tk script for the GUI. If you are not using the Mac Ports version of Tcl/Tk, then the first line of this file


    should be changed to reflect the correct path for wish.

You also need to add the Dataplot "bin" directory to your default path. For example, if you installed the Dataplot files in "/Users/heckert" and you run the c-shell or t-shell, then you can add the line

    set path=($path /Users/heckert/bin)
to your .cshrc file. If you run the Bourne shell, then add the lines
    PATH=/Users/heckert/bin:$PATH; export PATH
to your .bashrc file.

Since many sites have special customizations for these files, we do not do this automatically. Also, this does not take effect until you reboot your system. You can enter these commands manually if you do not want to reboot.

Running Dataplot Assuming that you have added "/usr/local/bin" (or whatever directory you installed the Dataplot executables in), you can initiate the command line verions of Dataplot by opening either a standard terminal window or an xterm window and then entering the command
If you did not install the Mac Ports libraries, you can instead enter the command
Once Dataplot starts, you can enter one of the following to open a graphics window
    device 1 aqua
    device 1 x11
The aqua device is typically used when running Dataplot from a standard terminal window and x11 is typically used when running Dataplot from an xterm window.

To perform a quick test of Dataplot, you can enter the command

    call minitest.dp
To exit Dataplot, enter the command QUIT (or EXIT).

To initiate the GUI version of Dataplot, enter the following

Building from Source The source code for Dataplot is included in the "src/dataplot" directory. If you want to build Dataplot from the source code, there are two Bourne shell script files:
  • buld_mac.bash - this script file is used if you have installed Mac Ports.
  • buld_mac_nomacports.bash - this script file is used if you have not installed Mac Ports.
There are a number of switches that can be set that determine which external libraries to use. You can set these to "on/off" depending on which libraries you have actually installed. Also, if you use Home Brew or Fink, you will need to modify the location for the libraries. The required changes to the script should be straightforward.

If you need assistance, feel free to contact Alan Heckert for assistance.

Problems with Downloading
Installation Problems If you have problems with the installation, contact Alan Heckert for assistance.

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Date created: 10/12/2017
Last updated: 10/12/2017

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