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Linux Journal: Gri: A Language for Scientific Illustration

Jul 01, 2000, 19:09 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Peter S. Galbraith, Dan E. Kelley)


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"For quick jobs, it's lovely to use a GUI-based graphing package or a spreadsheet. However, many users prefer a markup-based system for complicated illustrations, for the same reasons they prefer a markup-based system for complicated text. An additional factor is that GUI-based systems cannot help with illustrations that must be generated automatically without human intervention."

"An interesting example is provided by storm-surge forecasts prepared by oceanographers at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Storm surges are unusual elevations in sea level that are driven by anomalous wind stresses and low atmospheric pressures associated with storms. ... Dalhousie researchers have developed numerical ocean models, akin to numerical weather models, for predicting the incidence of storm surges in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. The goal is to provide advance-warning systems that display surge forecasts graphically on the Web. Gri is used for the graphics in this system, because it can be run without human intervention. It is so flexible, researchers can tailor the illustrations to be quickly understood by non-technical users."

"One feature scientists like about Gri is that it provides fine control over nearly all aspects of the appearance of the output. This is relevant because scientists have diverse needs, ranging from complicated working plots to pared-down and elegant diagrams for use in proposals, conference presentations and publications. Many Gri users report it is flexible enough to satisfy the full range of applications, removing the need to learn one tool for working plots and another for ``publication-quality'' illustrations."

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