xmgrace

Part 2 of my series of scientific computing underdogs!

xmgrace capture

xmgrace capture

When it comes to plotting and analyzing data, I think a lot of people use (xm)grace, specially those working in linux and other UNIX-like environments. The other main plotting solution is, of course, gnuplot, which is nicely complementary (probably an underdog, too, deserving its own entry).

In Microsoft environments, people tend to use the all-powerful origin, which is rather expensive (I wonder how many actually pay for it in my country, where piracy runs rampant).

It has a long story behind, stemming from the original xmgr, which was already rather good. One complicated feature was its dependency on the motif libraries, which were proprietary of, I guess, digital. One had to run the “static” version (a single, large executable file) in this case, unless one had the license to the libraries (once at least we did, on a digital workstation running linux). When OpenMotif and lesstif came along this became less of a problem.

Nice features are:

  • Almost wysiwyg, producing nice postscript output.
  • Easy symbol nomenclature, once one gets used to it. Example, \xr\si\N(\1z) \xs\S3 yields “rho sub i of z sigma cubed”…
  • Lots of Transformations available, including integration, differentiation, smoothing, averages, histograms, Fourier transforms, interpolation and splines…
  • and direct evaluation of things like “y=y+sqrt(s1.y)” (new set, same x values, take y from current set, plus operation on the y values of set s1).

BTW: If digital marks are wrong (“,” instead of “.” in a Spanish system, for example), type export LC_NUMERIC=C at the terminal xmgrace is run from.

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