Organization of this Manual

The PLplot library has been designed so that it is easy to write programs producing graphical output without having to set up large numbers of parameters. However, more precise control of the results may be necessary, and these are accommodated by providing lower-level routines which change the system defaults. The manual first describes the overall process of producing a graph using the high-level routines (see the Section called Plotting a Simple Graph in Chapter 2). For a discussion of the underlying concepts of the plotting process and an introduction to some of the more complex routines (see Chapter 3). An alphabetical list of the user-accessible PLplot functions with detailed descriptions is given in the reference section of the manual (see Chapter 19).

Because the PLplot kernel is written in C, standard C syntax is used in the description of each PLplot function. If you have difficulty interpreting the call syntax as described in this manual, please refer to part III, Language Bindings. This manual includes: C (Chapter 8), C++ (Chapter 9), Fortran 95 (Chapter 11), Fortran 77 (Chapter 10), Java (???), Tcl (Chapter 15), Perl (Chapter 13) and Python (Chapter 14). Since PLplot has a long history, bindings to your language of choice are probably available though not necessarily in the PLplot distribution. It is a good idea to ask around and do a quick search before rolling your own.

The meaning of the function (subroutine) arguments is typically the same regardless of what language you are using to call PLplot (but there are some exceptions to this). The arguments for each function are usually specified in terms of PLBOOL, PLINT,and PLFLT—these are the internal PLplot representations for logical, integer, and floating point, and are typically a zero (false) or non-zero (true) contained in a long, a long, and a float (or a LOGICAL, INTEGER, and a REAL, for Fortran programmers). See Chapter 8 for more detail.

Most of the output devices supported by PLplot are listed in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6, along with description of the device driver--PLplot interface, metafile output, family files, and vt100/tek4010 emulators.