[vslist] good plotting program?--MATLAB?

Ken Knoblauch knoblauch at lyon.inserm.fr
Tue Jul 27 09:36:00 GMT 2004

I half agree with Denis.  You can do nice graphs in Matlab (even
version 5) but the access to the bells and whistles is a bit
clunky (although as of version 6 there is a GUI interface that simplifies
things).  A problem with MATLAB is that the size of symbols
and labels is not necessarily indicative of what you will see
in hardcopy, although you can develop rules of thumb.  There
is some freeware on the MATLAB exchange site (exportgraphic.m,
I think, and associated programs) that goes some way to giving
the user better control of this, but it's still a bit clunky.

Gnuplot is quite good but I've never take the time to master its
syntax.  What I like about R (and you could do this with
MATLAB, too, but it is a route that I less often pursued)
is that I can put the graphic generating code in a script that
I can tweak and run each time I want to modify the image.  Emacs
has a nice interface with R (ESS or Emacs speaks S) that colorizes
the commands but nearly any text editor will work.  

The issue may come down to whether you prefer to modify things
by point and click or by programming a script.  

Quoting Denis Pelli <denis.pelli at verizon.net>:

> dear mickey
> i find that it's very easy to create an initial graph in MATLAB, but 
> that graph is rough and hard to improve. i've always given up before 
> reaching anything like what i consider publication quality. (I have 
> published a few MATLAB graphs, and i'm embarrassed by how rough they 
> look.) Note, however, that my experience is with MATLAB 5. I am just 
> about to install MATLAB 7 and i don't know whether things have 
> improved.
> I like the graphical user interface of kaleidagraph in which you can 
> click on and tweak nearly everything, visually. it's a fast way of 
> achieving a good graph.  i recognize the value, in principle, of having 
> an alternate programmatic interface (as in Mathematica, Igor, and 
> MATLAB), for occasions when you'll be producing many similar graphs, 
> but i've had surprisingly little need for that in my work.
> many people seem to use one program to create the graph, and another to 
> tweak it. E.g. Mathematica-Illustrator; Mathematica-PowerPoint; 
> Excel-Canvas.  i don't like that approach as i find that my graphs go 
> through many drafts in which we add a bit of data or change the model 
> slightly, and all the tweaking is lost every time you recreate the 
> graph.
> best
> denis
> On Jul 26, 2004, at 4:12 PM, Mickey Rowe wrote:
> >
> > Denis Pelli wrote:
> >
> >> version 1.0 of the Psych-toolbox for Mac OS X is being released now.
> >
> >> That software, an extension to MATLAB,
> >
> > Which points up something I've been wondering about all day... Denis,
> > why do you feel a need to use anything besides Matlab for plotting?
> >
> > -- 
> > Mickey Rowe     (rowe at psych.ucsb.edu)
> > _______________________________________________
> > http://www.visionscience.com/mailman/listinfo/vslist
> _______________________________________________
> http://www.visionscience.com/mailman/listinfo/vslist

Ken Knoblauch
Inserm U 371
Cerveau et Vision
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69675 Bron cedex
tel: +33 (0)4 72 91 34 77
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