Dataplot GUI: History
Original GUI Using Turbo C on the PC
Dr. Jim Filliben wrote the original graphical interface
(GUI) for Dataplot on a PC platform under the DOS
operating system in the early 90's. The GUI was written
using the Turbo C programming language.
Although this version of the GUI is no longer available, it did establish the basic structure and functionality of the current GUI. In particular, the use of easily edited ASCII files to determine the contents and actions of the GUI menus was developed in this version of the GUI.
Robert Limpman's Tcl/Tk and Expect Based GUI
Robert Lipman, at that time a member of the NIST Mathematical
and Computational Sciences Division, originally developed
a version of the Dataplot GUI on Unix platforms in the
mid-90's using the version 7.6 of the Tcl/Tk scripting language
and the Expect utility. Tcl/Tk is a scripting language for
developing graphical interfaces. Expect, written by Don Libes
of the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division of the NIST
Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory, is a scripting
language that controls the communications between Dataplot and
The Tcl/Tk utility underwent a major rewrite in moving from version 7.6 to 8.0. Robert Lipman upgraded the Dataplot GUI Tcl/Tk scripts to run using version 8.0. The modified version of the scripts do not run under version 7.6. Although Dataplot can run with version 8.0 and higher, we recommend using at least version 8.3 since Tcl/Tk has introduced substantial performance improvements in the subsequent 8.x versions.
An important feature of the Tcl/Tk utility was that it allowed us to develop a complete and modern graphical interface making only minimal modifications to the Dataplot source code.
The GUI was then ported to the PC for Windows 95/98/NT
platforms. Note that the PC implementation only uses Tcl/TK
(not Expect). Windows 3.1, OS/2, and Mac OS9 (and lower) are
not currently supported. Windows 3.1 is essentially obsolete
at this point and we will not support it. We also do not
plan to support Mac OS9 (we do plan to support the new
Mac OSX). As far as I know, Tcl/Tk is not supported
The primary modification in porting to Windows environments involved handling the communications between Dataplot and Tcl/Tk. Although there has been an NT port of Expect, this port is not part of the official Expect distribution and it does not extend to all variants of Windows (i.e., Windows 95/98). For this reason, Robert Lipman modified the Tcl/Tk scripts to use a different method of communicating between Dataplot and Tcl/Tk that did not depend on Expect. Note that on Unix, the Dataplot GUI will use Expect if it is available. If it is not, it will use Tcl/Tk only method developed for the PC.
The same version of the Dataplot GUI Tcl/Tk scripts run under both Windows and Unix platforms.
The Dataplot GUI will continue to be based on the Tcl/Tk
scripting language for the forseeable future.
As we are not a commercial software company and one of our primary goals is to keep Dataplot portable (and thus available on as many computing platforms as feasible), the ability to run the same Dataplot GUI Tcl/Tk scripts on the wide variety of Unix and Windows platforms is a tremendous advantage for us. We simply do not have the resources to develop (and, just as importantly, maintain) native mode GUI's on Unix, MacIntosh, and Windows platforms.
That being said, we will continue to investigate reasonable alternatives. For example,