[NTG-context] Charts, Graphs, Tufte, and ConTeXt

Mojca Miklavec mojca.miklavec.lists at gmail.com
Fri Jul 21 19:36:22 CEST 2006

On 7/21/06, David Wooten wrote:
> Greetings all,
> I've been itching to stop using "Illustrator" and other programs to make
> the charts and graphs I wish to include in my ConTeXt-generated
> documents, and would like to get some advice on the matter.
> There is a special (albeit not well furnished) place in my heart for
> Tufte's /"Visual Display of Quantitative Information/", so I suppose I
> am always leaning towards that philosophy of chart-making. I came across
> Jean-luc Doumont's article /"Drawing effective (and beautiful) graphs
> with TeX*" [1]/, in which he refers to his macro package called
> JLdraw---and shows some pretty examples. JLdraw was in fact never
> generally released, although when I contacted him he was happy to send
> along the macro package. In beginning to tinker with them, I have not
> had much luck getting them to work within ConTeXt, undoubtedly due to my
> persistent naiveté.
> Thus I'm curious as to what others use... is R an efficient method to
> produce elegant charts? Is straight MetaPost preferable?

With metapost you can surely achive most beautiful results and it is
not as difficult to learn as TeX-programming. Of course you might need
more time to draw what you need or to write your own set of macros,
but if you have high demands about quality this might be the way to

However, if you prefer doing it quicly using the existing tools (be
aware that you have to learn how to use those tools as well), R or
gnuplot might be an interesting choice. You'll be limited by the power
of those two tools, but in most cases they should suffice for the
normal usage.

The gnuplot module is still in development (I've been just begging
Hans for help a few hours ago ;). Take a look at the demo section of
gnuplot (http://gnuplot.sourceforge.net/demo_4.1/) to see if it can
offer you what you want to do. In that case ask on the list again,
I'll give you further pointers how to use it with ConTeXt

But basically you can take any program to draw graphs and include the
resulting PDFs. I'm afraid that the macros from the paper which you
pointed to, use some PostScript code that cannot be handled as-is (you
need some conversion to PDF first) and I'm affraid that the effort put
into making it work woudn't pay off now that you have a great varienty
of other plotting programs, including metapost itself (esp. if the
package has never been released - you'll probably hardly get any
support for it).


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