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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Investigating LaTeX graphics ( M381 TMA due soon )

M381 TMA01 consists of nine questions, 5 about number theory and 4 about mathematical logic. Question 6b asks us to draw a flowchart of a URM program. Since I typeset my TMA's ( instead of using a pen or worse: using a word processor ) I need to insert the flowchart as a graphic. Although almost any graphic can be inserted in a document ( including scans from manually drawn stuff ) I want to give the TMA a professional look and feel ( no: it won't add a single point, but are you transforming yourself into a knowledgeable mathematician or are you only interested in the grades? ). I investigated what the possibilities are for producing high-quality graphics with LaTeX.

It was as if I entered a new world entirely. I looked at PS-Tricks before but got overwhelmed with its possibilities ( and possible steep learning curve ), this time I had a better look. And I looked at PGF/TikZ as well. Both look very impressive and have the support of third-party editors. Both seem to have an established and satisfied user-base. I might have overlooked something but it seems that PS Tricks and PGF/TikZ are the competing 'standards' for native LaTeX graphics.

My next step is installing and as a test trying to create the flow-chart graphic for the M381 TMA.

PS Tricks graphic example

- PS Tricks
- PGF/TikZ (TikZ ist kein Zeichenprogramm)


  1. I did this course in 2009 and used PSTricks for the flowcharts. For M343 in 2010 I'd switched to TikZ, but I still have the example flowchart I created in PSTricks (it's taken from one of the units).

    A complete document with this example is available at this Pastie - apologies for the idiosyncratic style, it's the way I write LaTeX!

  2. Sean, thanks.
    Your response more or less confirms that PSTricks and TikZ are the leading graphics tools in the LaTeX community. Interesting that you switched to TikZ. - I might end up using a drawing tool that generates either of them.


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