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RE: Handle Graphics Support for Octave

From: Julian A. de Marchi, Ph.D.
Subject: RE: Handle Graphics Support for Octave
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 20:07:56 -0400

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There's been quite a bit of discussion on this topic already.  There's also
already been an interface to GTK+ written by someone else.  Moreover, John
has expressed a consistent viewpoint with well-weighed pros and cons
regarding GTK and other suggestions so far.

I recently conversed with Paul Kienzle during his visit to Cambridge Mass.,
and we thought it might make some sense to get started using something like
GTK+ in a manner of motivating more attention to a GUI for Octave.  Recently
there has also been positive discussion on VTK
( -- which is straight-up awesome for its
high-octane graphics.  VTK already has TCL, c++, Java and Python APIs.  On
the down-side (in the words of the purveyors):

        What's UnCool About vtk

           - Not a super-fast graphics engine...
                vtk uses C++ dynamic binding and a device independent graphics 
           - C++ source code (so use Tcl, Python, or Java)
           - Very large...not a'll need a decent system to use it

..and, no widgets.  Maybe the interim solution is "V/GTK+" (very good
toolkit -- though not quite perfect).

In general, overarching issues (in a nutshell) appear to be:

1) GNU GPL compatibility
2) extensibility, portability, generic-ness, standardisation,
        lack of being bound to any particular toolkit
3) event-driven communication between the GUI window(s) and the Octave
(terminal) engine
4) a toolkit that delivers widgets as well as graphics and (2- & 3-D)
5) consistent look-and-feel across platforms
6) interfacability with GNUPlot (and possibly PLPlot)
7) backward-interfacability with Handel Graphics (MT)

Coming to a conclusion after some years of limbo and latent discussion would
seem to be (to me anyway) rather hard to actually commit to.  So I really
wonder whether there might be a case for a stop-gap best-shot at a
relatively good selection that we can now make for both needs (GUI and
plotting)..either GNUPlot+GTK or VTK+GTK.  My personal vote is for the
current best-in-class extensible widget set (GTK+) that is able to allow the
user to bind (on the fly) whatever plotting set they choose (whether GNUPlot
or VTK or epsTk or whatever).

So far, this takes care of items 1), 2) -- with care/caution, 3) -- with
modified GNU readline, 4) -- up to the end-user/therefore not locked-in
whatsoever, 5) -- again up to user's choice, 6) -- instrinsic, may take some
work/abstraction, or just a fancy/generic pipe into GTK's "plot
area/window", 7) -- let's get 1-6 working first, right?

So, what's the verdict anyone?


: -----Original Message-----
: From: address@hidden
: [mailto:address@hidden Behalf Of Nimrod Mesika
: Sent: Thursday, August 31, 2000 16:44
: To: address@hidden
: Subject: Handle Graphics Support for Octave
: Yet another plotting package for Octave.
: I have been using Matlab's handle graphics subsystem for quite some
: time to create scripts with interactive user interfaces. I believe
: this system is much more powerful than using gnuplot to just draw
: graphs.
: Recently I found out that much of the needed functionality has been
: implemented in the gtk+extra widget set (designed, obviously for the
: gtk+ x11 toolkit).
: I have put together some C++ source code to interface Octave with
: gtk+extra's plot widget. The code is organized as an octave .oct
: module and is loaded dynamically.
: This is just an initial preview release to get your opinion on the
: design choices made and maybe get some other potential developers
: interested in helping.
: You may find the code (including the necessary gtk+extra widget) at
: The code is totally useless (can do simple plots, print them to
: postscript and that's about it) at this point so don't bother if
: you can't help. Hopefully, in a few months we'll have something more
: useful.
: --
: Nimrod.
: -----------------------------------------------------------------------
: Octave is freely available under the terms of the GNU GPL.
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Octave is freely available under the terms of the GNU GPL.

Octave's home on the web:
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