XForms: Printing of xyplots?

James Hall (James.Hall@cl.cam.ac.uk)
Thu, 14 Aug 1997 10:31:46 +0100

To subscribers of the xforms list from James Hall <James.Hall@cl.cam.ac.uk> :

Whilst it would be very nice to have a direct ps output option of an xyplot,
and several packages have been suggested towards this end I would like to
refer to an earlier posted suggestion that a plotter with this option (e.g.
Gnuplot) may be used.

While to invoke one package from another in order to largely duplicate its
functionality is not immediately appealing it can, in practical terms, be an
effective and efficient strategy. Gnuplot has both many strengths and
weaknesses; amongst the latter are (IMHO) the inconvenience and difficulty of
long command lines or driver file writing, particularly when wishing to draw
comparative plots of several data sets, or to examine alternative
presentations of data. On the other hand, xyplot makes these things extremely

Given that to use the basic xyplot facility in any more than a trivial sense
requires keeping track of a great deal of state (e.g. what data file(s),
scaling factors, bounds, plot type, axis labels, and so on) it is a very
simple matter to have an xyplot xforms program generate a Gnuplot input file -
and if required, of course, to invoke Gnuplot with this file as an argument.

We have found this strategy to be simple and effective, both where it is
desired to obtain ps/eps/gif/... output from xyplot, and where the emphasis is
rather to quickly `preview' Gnuplot, generate comprehensive driver files, or
simply save repeated command line editing.

James Hall

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