[Tex/LaTex] Comparison of plotting packages


I was wondering what some differences and relation between common plotting packages/environment:

  • picture environment
  • PGF/TikZ
  • PSTricks
  • and some others that are also common
    but I don't know yet

for choosing when to choose which, considering:

  1. are their purposes different or the
  2. which one is more comprehensive, and
    which more easy to learn, and which
    get the best balance between?
  3. is some extension of some other?

Best Answer

For powerful graphics I would recommend Asymptote. It has a C++ type object orientated syntax and is not that difficult to learn (I can still not figure out any the tricks of TikZ ;-) I would say some of the main strong points are (but look at the gallery on the webpage):

  • Full math and linear algebra engin
  • Full 3D including active 3D pictures in PDF
  • Use LaTeX to set all text and math
  • It can be inlined in Latex but is normaly better to use it for standalone graphics.

It is also very good with large data sets and the manupulation thereof. I have used one graph template for all the graphs in my PhD to obtain the same sizes, line thickness, markers, etc. It is also fairly easy to do the figure below where the data was imported from a Discrete element Simulation and manipulated in Asymptote fill hight