[kwlug-disc] Software to draw illustrations?

Steve Izma sizma at golden.net
Sun Feb 10 14:20:31 EST 2019

On Sun, Feb 10, 2019 at 06:18:17AM -0800, Doug Moen wrote:
> Subject: Re: [kwlug-disc] Software to draw illustrations?
> If you need correctly typeset mathematical equations as well,
> then there are some very powerful diagramming tools made by the
> Tex/latex community, which I keep meaning to investigate some
> day. These are programming languages that generate diagrams, so
> there is a steep learning curve. The ones I've heard of are
> metapost and tikz.

Pic(1) has been the standard vector graphics preprocessor for
both the roff family and TeX since at least the early 1980s. It
also has a pre-preprocessor for charts and graphs: grap(1). They
are programming languages that came out of Bell Labs and are
still being maintained by the GNU community. I have used them
many times over the years for very complicated material that
required high-quality typographical output (which, as far as I'm
concerned, you can only get from groff and TeX these days). Xfig,
as Paul has mentioned, is very good as well, but I found pic and
grap better for reading from data files and processing data
through algorithms. Since the roff family are filters, it's also
easy to call them from other programs to produce reports on the
fly. On modern computers such pipelines with, e.g., python
scripts, are lightning fast.

But this describes an entirely different paradigm from WYSIWYG
systems like the Adobe Suite, Inkscape, etc. In my professional
life as a typographer, I just find WYSIWYG awkward, slow, and
limited in typographical precision -- like the difference between
cut-and-paste for a scrapbook and telling a computer directly
what you want. So if you need vector graphics only for casual and
non-programmatic work, I thing Inkscape works quite well (and,
for that matter, it is somewhat scriptable).

	-- Steve

Steve Izma
Home: 35 Locust St., Kitchener, Ontario, Canada  N2H 1W6
E-mail: sizma at golden.net  phone: 519-745-1313  cell: 519-998-2684

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