Friday, July 25, 2014

Veusz: Awesome Plotting Software

As a working scientist, I do a lot of data plotting. Most of these plots are for internal consumption, as I try to tease meaning out of data.

I tend to use gnuplot a lot, because I've gotten extremely used to it.

However, every once in a while I have to make a plot for external consumption.

For the longest time, I've relied on Grace for my journal quality plots.

Last week, I discovered Veusz (pronounced "views"). It is a python based program for 2D plots, which feels truly modern.

Grace hasn't been updated in a while, and while it works fine for the most part, from an aesthetic standpoint, it feels like your friend from the eighties, who did not realize that bell-bottoms went out of fashion.

It is multiplatform (runs on Linux, MacOS and Windows), exports to a wide variety of useful formats (EPS, PDF, SVG, TIFF), and is unfettered by some of the legacy issues surrounding Grace (multiple plots) such as:
  • multiple plots/insets are a cinch
  • subscripts/superscripts use latex notation
  • presence of an undo button
  • more concise and readable scripts
  • import from a wide variety of formats
  • ability to link to data files instead of loading them in
It is also possible to write "script" files, and use the program from the command line. All in all, I think this is a program that I will use a lot more in the future. I will post about my experiences after I use it for a while.

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