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6. What is the best way to create graphs?


For processing data files and creating two-dimensional graphs and plots, there is on Linux — to my knowledge — no real alternative to using the ancient gnuplot program.

This is unfortunate, because although I don't want to knock a free program that, in the end, I used quite successfully, I must confess I don't really like gnuplot at all. It does what it needs to do, but its interface is hopelessly old-school and clunky (and I'm not just saying that because it is a command-line interface) and its documentation is a disaster. Every step of the way I felt I had to fight against the program in order to get it to do what I wanted, rather than that it was helping me to achieve that goal.

Example graph from thesis

There are a number of scripts and filters in my thesis sources that I used to beat gnuplot into submission. We are talking ugly hacks here, and my own documentation is hardly something to write home about either, but they may nevertheless serve as a starting point if you need one.


14 Aug 2003

It's been brought to my attention that there may be a possible alternative for gnuplot in the Gri Graphing Language. I have no personal experience with it, but a cursory glance through the documentation would certainly suggest that it might be worth looking into for anybody who is in need of a scientific graphing program.

2 Feb 2008

Another recommendation I received in email is for the GLE Graphics Layout Engine. Again, I am not familiar with this free software tool and am just passing along the suggestion.

1 Nov 2008

And yet another recommendation for a free software graphing environment I have not used myself: the R Project for Statistical Computing.

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Leo Breebaart (leo@lspace.org)
Last updated: 27 June 2016