Create graphics files using the LIBPLOT library.
- Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)
- Portable Network Graphics (PNG)
- Tektronix 4014
- netPBM format (PNM) in either binary or ASCII
- Adobe Illustrator
- HP PCL (using HP-GL emulation)
- plotutils metafile format
- web CGM in either binary or ASCII format
Devices 1-8 are redundant to devices that are already supported in
Dataplot. We will say a bit more about the remaining devices since
these are not currently supported in Dataplot.
- The netPBM software package supports conversion between many
types of bitmap formats (currently converters are available for
over 100 graphics formats). In addition, it supports a number
of programs for manipulating bitmap files. The netPBM software
is freely downloadable and is supported on most major computing
The netPBM programs do not convert directly from one format to
the other. Instead, they convert to the intermediate PNM
format. Then for a supported bitmap format, programs are
available to convert to and from the PNM format.
The primary utility for this format is that it greatly expands
the potential number of bitmap formats that Dataplot can
generate. Dataplot can generate graphics output in PNG, JPEG,
and GIF format using the GD library. However, if you need a
graphic in a bitmap format other than these, the PNM option
provides an option. In addition to the netPBM software, most
bitmap conversion software supports the PNM format. The PNM
format is typically not of interest itself. Rather, it is
useful because it allows you to easily convert to many other
More information about the netPBM software and PPM format is
available at the netPBM website:
- The Adobe Illustrator program is a popular graphics editing
program. This driver generates graphs in Adobe Illustrator's
- The xfig program is a graphics editing program that has been
available on most Unix/Linux platforms for a long time. This
driver generates graphs in xfig's native format.
- The Printer Control Language (PCL) was developed by HP to
support its desktop printers. It has been adopted as the
primary protocol by many desktop printers.
Note that the LIBPLOT PCL driver does not generate native PCL
bitmaps. Instead, it uses the HP-GL emulation that is provided
in PCL. The HP-GL language is a vector-based format that HP
originally introduced to support its penplotters. The PCL
driver will include the commands to put the printer into HP-GL
emulation mode and to terminate HP-GL emulation mode.
The primary utility of this driver is that it may allow you to
create a graphics file that can be sent directly to a printer
instead of generating Postscript and sending it through an
intermediate software such as Ghostview. The downside of this
is that the HP-GL emulation is not as rich as the Postscript
language (e.g., the color support is more limited).
- The LIBPLOT metafile format is used by the programs in
the plotutils package.
- The webcgm format is an ANSI standard Computer Graphics Metafile
(CGM) format. Although CGM did not become a widely adopted
standard, there are a number of word processing, graphics
editing, and page publishing software programs that will import
CGM files. Note that libplot supports a newer version of CGM
that was developed to support inclusion on web pages.
In summary, most of the new formats provided by the LIBPLOT driver
are most useful as ways of importing Dataplot graphics into other
Some of the features and limitations of the LIBPLOT driver are
discussed in the Notes section below.
The documentation for the Plotutils package (including LIBPLOT) is
available at the web site
DEVICE <1/2/3> LIBPLOT <device>
where <device> is one of the following:
- for X11
- netPBM PNM binary format
- netPBM PNM ascii format
- GIF format
- Adobe Illustrator format
- Postscript format
- xfig format
- PCL format using HP-GL emulation
- HP-GL format
- LIBPLOT metafile binary format
- LIBPLOT metafile ascii format
- Scalable Vector Graphics format
- Portable Network Graphics format
- Tektronix 4014 format to the terminal screen
- Tektronix 4014 format to file
- Regis format to the terminal screen
- Regis format to file
- CGM binary format
- CGM ascii format
This form designates one of DATAPLOT's 3 devices (typically
device 2) as a LIBPLOT device.
Note that although Dataplot supports 3 concurrent devices, only
one of these can be a LIBPLOT device. Typically, it will be
DEVICE 2 that you set to a LIBPLOT device.
DEVICE 2 LIBPLOT PNG
DEVICE 2 LIBPLOT PNM
DEVICE 2 LIBPLOT FIG
If you build Dataplot from source, the LIBPLOT driver depends on
plotutils being installed on your local platform. Currently, LIBPLOT
support is limited to Linux/Unix installations.
The LIBPLOT library is currently limited to output only. This means
that the CROSS HAIR command is not supported.
Dataplot typically uses "dppl1f.dat" and "dppl2f.dat" as the default
names for the DEVICE 2 and DEVICE 3 output files. These default
names can be modified with the SET IPL1NA and SET IPL2NA commands.
However, the LIBPLOT devices use their own names. Specifically,
the file name will be
where xx is one of
x => for the X device
pnm => for the PNM device
gif => for the GIF device
ai => for the Adobe illustrator device
ps => for the Postscript device
fig => for the xfig device
pcl => for the HP PCL device
hpgl => for the HP GL device
tek => for the Tektronix 4014 device
meta => for the libplot metafile device
svg => for the SVG device
png => for the PNG device
regis => for the Regis device
cgm => for the cgm device
There is no currently no way to change these default file names.
The default image size is 570x570 pixels. This applies to
the following devices: X, png, gif, and pnm. To change
the default image size, enter the command
SET LIBPLOT X SIZE <value>
SET LIBPLOT Y SIZE <value>
The following commands are supported
SET LIBPLOT CAP STYLE <ROUND/PROJECT/BUTT>
SET LIBPLOT JOIN STYLE <ROUND/BEVEL/MITER>
SET LIBPLOT HARDWARE FILL <ON/OFF>
SET LIBPLOT FONT <font name>
Appendix A (section A.1) of the plotutils manual describes the fonts
that are supported by the libplot library.
All devices support the following Hershey fonts:
In addition, libplot supports the 35 Postscript fonts, the 45
PCL 5 fonts, 18 Hewlett-Packard vector fonts. These non-Hershey
fonts are not available on all devices.
The Postscript fonts are available for the X, Adobe Illustrator,
Postscript, and fig devices. The PCL fonts are available for the
Adobe Illustrator, PCL, and HP-GL devices. The HP vector fonts are
available for the PCL and HP-GL devices.
The X device can use any of the X11 fonts installed on your local
The Postscript font names are
The PCL and HP fonts are given in the libplot manual.
The default font is "Helvetica" for all devices except the
PNM, GIF, HP-GL, Tektronix, and metafile devices. For these,
the default font is HersheySerif.
The libplot device can handle many of Dataplot's supported special
characters. These special characters are mapped to the libplot's
special characters. There is not a 1-to-1 correspondence between
Dataplot's special characters and the symbols available in libplot.
The supported symbols below are ones that are available in both the
Dataplot special symbol set and in libplot.
Specifically, the following are supported:
- subscripts and superscripts
- Greek characters
- A subset of the mathematical symbols and other special
characters. The following is the list of Dataplot
special characters that will be translated to
equivalent characters in the Postscript symbol font:
INTE(), SUMM(), PROD(), INFI(), DOTP(),
DIVI(), LT(), GT(), LTEQ(), GTEQ(),
NOT=(), +-(), TILD(), EQUI(), VARI(),
CARA(), TIME(), PART(), RADI(), SUBS(),
THFO(), LBRA(), RBRA(), LCBR(),
RCBR(), RARR(), UARR(),
DARR(), HBAR(), DEGR()
The full set of special symbols supported by Dataplot
is documented in
chapter 13 of Volume I of the Reference Manual.
Alternatively, you can enter special symbols using the libplot
escape sequences. The available escape sequences are documented
in Appendix A (section A.4) of the plotutils manual (available
at the plotutils web site). This includes a large number of
special symbols not supported directly by Dataplot.
= Direct graphical output to a Postscript device.
= Direct graphical output to an HPGL device.
= Generate graphical output in Scalable Vector Graphics
= Specify certain actions for the graphics output.
Web Applications, Graphics Import Into Other Programs
DEVICE 1 LIBPLOT X
TITLE SAMPLE PNG PLOT
PLOT X**2 FOR X = 1 1 9
DEVICE 1 CLOSE
NIST is an agency of the U.S.
Date created: 07/06/2009
Last updated: 11/07/2016
Please email comments on this WWW page to