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Ghostview Alternatives

Introduction Dataplot generates graphics output in Postscript format. Historically Ghostview version 5 has been used to view and print Dataplot Postscript files for Windows platforms. However, Ghostview is no longer being supported and it no longer works on Windows 11. Specifically, you get an error saying that it cannot find Ghostscript even though Ghostscript is installed on your system. This problem is now also occurring with the most recent patches to Windows 10. We provide some alternatives to Ghostview version 5 here.

Note that programs for viewing Postscript files will typically also support PDF format files (and possibly other formats). However, many viewers for PDF files do not support Postscript format files.

Although we identify certain software on this page, such identification is not intended to imply recommendation or endorsement by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, nor is it intended to imply that the softwares are necessarily the best available for the purpose.

If Ghostscript is installed and the DPLOGF.TEX is configured with the right path for Ghostscript, Dataplot can automatically convert the Postscript file to PDF in the background when the plot file is closed. If you use this option, you do not neccessarily need a Postscript viewer. This is discussed below.

Since most of the alternatives to Ghostview version 5 require that the Postscript file have a ".PS" extension, starting with the 2024/06/12 version of Dataplot the default names for the plot files have been changed from DPPL1F.DAT and DPPL2F.DAT to DPPL1F.PS and DPPL2F.PS.

Windows Programs for Viewing Postscript Files
We mention several programs that can be used for viewing and printing Postscript files. We limit the discussion to freely available software. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but simply to provide a few alternatives to Ghostview.
Version 6.0 of Ghostview There is a version 6.0 of Ghostview that works under both Windows 10 and 11. You can download an installation file for version 6.0 of Ghostview here

Note that version 6.0 of Ghostview expects the Postscript file to have a ".ps" file extension. Dataplot's default name for DEVICE 2 is "dppl1f.dat" and its default name for DEVICE 3 output is "dppl2f.dat". To change the default names to have ".ps" extensions, see the comments below for the Evince program below for instructions on how to do this (these instructions apply to any Posrscript viewer that expects a ".ps" file extension).

NOTE: Starting with the 2024/06/12 version of Dataplot, the default names have been changed to DPPL1F.PS and DPPl2F.PS.

Evince Evince is a popular open source viewer on Linux platforms. There is also a Windows version. Evince is primarily used for viewing Postscript files. It does not support conversion to other formats such as PDF and does not support editing of the Postscript file.

You can download an installation file for Evince here

Note that Evince expects the Postscript file to have a ".ps" file extension. Dataplot's default name for DEVICE 2 is "dppl1f.dat" and its default name for DEVICE 3 output is "dppl2f.dat". To change the default names to have ".ps" extensions, edit the file (this is a startup file that is run when Dataplot is initiated)

    C:\Program Files (x86)\NIST\DATAPLOT\DPLOGF.TEX

Look for the block of code

ELSE IF FLAGUSER = 3; . Custom commands for generic user (interactive)
   . Set Ghostscript path
   . SET GHOSTSCRIPT PATH "C:\Program Files\GS\GS9.27\BIN\";    . Ghostscript version 9.27
   SET GHOSTSCRIPT PATH "C:\Program Files\GS\GS10.03.1\BIN\";   . Ghostscript version 10.03.1
   . Set Ghostview path
   . SET GHOSTVIEW PATH "C:\Program Files\GHOSTGUM\GSVIEW\"; . Version 5.0 of Ghostview
   SET GHOSTVIEW PATH "C:\Program Files\Artifex Software\gsview6.0\bin"; . Version 6.0 of Ghostview
   SET POSTSCRIPT VIEWER "C:\Program Files\Artifex Software\gsview6.0\bin\gsview.exe"; . Version 6.0 of Ghostview
   . Set default screen font and open DEVICE 2 as Postscript device
   SET POSTSCRIPT FONT HELVETICA BOLD; . versus arial or verdanna or . . .
   DEVICE 2 POSTSCRIPT; . Open Postscript device
   . Put your own custom commands here

Before the line "DEVICE 2 POSTSCRIPT", add the following lines


In this block, you should also change the line



SET POSTSCRIPT VIEWER C:\Users\heckert\AppData\Local\Apps\evince-\bin\evince.exe

Replace "heckert" in the above path with the appropriate user name for your system. This is if you installed Evince just for yourself. If you installed it for all users of your computer (you need to select the "Advanced" option in the setup to select this), then use

SET POSTSCRIPT VIEWER "C:\Program Files (x86)\evince-\bin\evince.exe"

NOTE: Starting with the 2024/06/12 version of Dataplot, the default names have been changed to DPPL1F.PS and DPPl2F.PS.

Gimp Gimp is an open source program for viewing, printing and editing image files in many different formats. The advantage of Gimp is that it allows you to convert to other formats and it allows you to edit the image. The primary disadvantage is that it is intended for viewing/editing a single plot. The DEVICE 2 output will typically contain multiple plots (the DEVICE 3 output in dppl2f.dat contains the most recent plot only, so it will have only a single plot).

The web site for Gimp is

Converting the Postscript File to PDF
An alternative to using a Postscript viewer is to first convert the file to PDF format and then use a PDF viewer to view or print the file. Most Windows installations are likely to have the Adobe Acrobat reader installed, but there are a number of both open source and commercial PDF viewers available.
ps2pdf The Ghostscript installation provides a script for converting Postscript files to PDF files. This can be run after exiting Dataplot.

Be aware that Ghostscript puts this in its LIB directory. For version 10.03.1 of Ghostscript, to convert the default DEVICE 2 output file dppl1f.dat open a command prompt window (and CD to the directory containing the dppl1f.dat file) and enter

    "C:\Program Files\GS\GS10.03.1\LIB\PS2PDF" dppl1f.dat dppl1f.pdf
    or for Dataplot versions starting with 2024/06/12
    "C:\Program Files\GS\GS10.03.1\LIB\PS2PDF" dppl1f.pdf

This will create the PDF file dppl1f.pdf.

Within Dataplot, you can enter

    system "C:\Program Files\GS\GS10.03.1\LIB\PS2PDF" dppl1f.dat dppl1f.pdf

If you are running a version of Ghostscript other than 10.03.1, modify "GS10.03.1" in the above path to reflect the version you are running. Also, for versions of Dataplot starting with 2024/06/12, use "" rather than "dppl1f.pdf".

It is convenient to add this directory to your default path so that you only have to enter "PS2PDF" in the above commands. To do this

  • Open up the control panel.

  • Select "System and Security".

  • Select "System and Security".

  • Select "System".

  • Select "Advanced System Settings" (under "Related Settings").

  • Select "Environment Variables". Under "User variables" left click on "Path".

  • Select the "Edit" button.

  • Select the "New" button and add

      C:\Program Files\gs\gs10.03.1\lib

    If you installed a version other than 10.03.1, then replace "GS10.03.1" with the appropriate version.

Automatic Conversion of Postscript Files to PDF To simplify things, you can have Dataplot automatically use Ghostscript to convert the Postscript output from DEVICE 2 and DEVICE 3 by using the SET POSTSCRIPT CONVERT command.

The conversion is performed whenever the DEVICE 2 or DEVICE 3 file is closed. For DEVICE 2, this is when a DEVICE 2 CLOSE command is entered or when you exit Dataplot. The DEVICE 3 output is managed automatically by Dataplot.

The Dataplot startup file

    C:\Program Files (x86)\NIST\DATAPLOT\DPLOGF.TEX

can be set to do this automatically. Look for the block of code

ELSE IF FLAGUSER = 3; . User customized settings (interactive use)
   LET IBROWSE = 6;   . Edge
   LET IOPS = 2;      . Windows 7/8/10 64-bit
   LET FLAGCOLO = 1;  . Color settings
   LET FLAGWS = 1;    . Workspace settings
   LET FLAGDECI = 1;  . Number of decimals in output
   LET FLAGTOFF = 1;  . Tic offset
   LET FLAGCASE = 1;  . Case (upper/lower/asis)
   LET FLAGTITL = 1;  . Title offset
   LET FLAGTITS = 1;  . Title size
   LET FLAGSHAD = 1;  . Box shadow
   LET FLAGX3LA = 1;  . x3label automatic
   LET FLAGHEAD = 1;  . Header sizes
   LET FLAGLABE = 1;  . Label sizes
   LET FLAGERRO = 1;  . Response to error
   LET FLAGVERS = 1;  . Print version info
   LET FLAGDEVI = 1;  . Print message about devices
   LET FLAGHELP = 1;  . Print various search/help options
   LET FLAGPDPI = 1;  . Postscript dpi
   LET FLAGPDF  = 1;  . Automatic creation of pdf files
   LET FLAGLIST = 1;  . Set number of list lines, open new window for LIST, HELP

If LET FLAGPDF = 1 is set, the Postscript files will automatically be converted to PDF. If LET FLAGPDF = 0 is set, this conversion will not be performed.

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Date created: 08/30/2022
Last updated: 06/14/2024

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