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README

Notes on the gnuplot help files and documentation.
--------------------------------------------------

Gnuplot documentation is available in three ways:

1 - interactively, within gnuplot
2 - as a printed document. 
3 - as a manual page, through the Unix man(1) facility

The third form tells how to run gnuplot.

The first two forms describe the inner workings, and contain equivalent
information.  They derive their information from the file "gnuplot.doc",
which is the master copy of gnuplot help information.  All other forms,
except for the man page "gnuplot.1", are derived from it. 

gnuplot.doc -> gnuplot.gih 
            -> gnuplot.hlp
            -> gnuplot.html
            -> gnuplot.info
            -> gnuplot.ipf
            -> gnuplot.ms
            -> gnuplot.rnh
            -> gnuplot.rtf
            -> gnuplot.tex
    	   	  	 	    		
On Unix, AmigaOS, and MSDOS the interactive help is built into the
program, and uses the file "gnuplot.gih" ('make gih').

On VMS, the interactive help is supplied by the system help facility,
using the file "gnuplot.hlp".  This is built by default, either by 
doc2hlp, or doc2rnh and RUNOFF which format gnuplot.doc for the VMS
HELP indenting conventions.  The help file is placed in a help library, 
"gnuplot.hlb" but it may be also be placed in one of the system-wide 
help libraries, using lib/help ('help lib').  If VMS users prefer the 
gnuplot interactive help facility to the system facility, this can be 
easily changed by not defining NO_GIH.

On the World Wide Web, the gnuplot manual can include demonstration
plots; the links for these are included in the file "gnuplot.html"
('make html').

Under EMACS, interactive help uses the file "gnuplot.info" ('make info').

On OS/2, the Information Presentation Facility Compiler converts the
file "gnuplot.ipf" to a "gnuplot.inf" file.

The printed document is available in troff/nroff (ms) format, using
the file "gnuplot.ms".  For nroff, use 'make nroff'. For troff, type
'make ms' and then 'troff -ms gnuplot.ms' in whatever way you use troff.
For groff (on linux), use  'groff -t -e -mgs gnuplot.ms'

On MS-Windows, the Microsoft help compiler converts the file "gnuplot.rtf"
to an 'hlp' file which is used by the standard Windows help program.

The printed document is also available in LaTeX format, using the file
"gnuplot.tex" ('make tex').  If you use LaTeX on your computer, you can
type 'make dvi' to create "gnuplot.dvi", and then run your dvi-to-
PostScript converter to generate "gnuplot.ps".


Manual entries for the terminals are not included in "gnuplot.doc";
instead, each "driver.trm" file (in the directory /term) contains its
own documentation section.  See "term/README" for details.

When you build gnuplot, only some of the terminal drivers are loaded;
these are selected in "term.h" by compiler directives specified in the
makefile.  The interactive help generators use the same set of compiler
directives in "term.h", and thus interactive help contains information
for just those terminals actually loaded.

The printed manual generators and the html generator contain information
about all terminals.  This is accomplished by concatenating all of the
".trm" files into a single one, "allterm.h".

The file "termdoc.c" is used by each of the eight processing programs
("doc2gih.c", etc.); it #includes either "term.h" or "allterm.h", as is
appropriate.  If you wish to override the default decision about which
terminals are to appear in the documentation, edit the appropriate target
in the Makefile and add/remove -DALL_TERM_DOC to/from the compiler flags.


Description of the gnuplot.doc format:
--------------------------------------

Here is an example of the DOC master help format:

?
1 gnuplot
 GNUPLOT is a command-driven interactive function plotting program.  It
 ...
?exit
2 exit
 'exit', 'quit' and ...
?expressions
2 expressions
 In general, any mathematical expression accepted by C, ...

 Topics:
 functions operators
?expressions functions
?functions
3 functions
 The functions in GNUPLOT are ...

 Topics:
 abs acos arg ...
?expressions functions abs
?functions abs
?abs
4 abs
 This function returns the absolute value of its argument.  The
 returned value is of the same type as the argument. 
?expressions functions acos
?functions acos
?acos
4 acos
 This function returns the arc cosine (inverse cosine) of its
 argument.  'acos' returns its argument in radians. 


Some notes about the format:
----------------------------
Remember that all text must be able to be processed by gnuplot, VMS,
 nroff, troff, info, itl, and latex, and always do something reasonable. 
The first column is reserved for control characters.
Text does not start in the first column.
Lines that start in column 2 may be typeset by LaTeX.
Lines that have a space in column 2 are to be printed in a verbatim
 environment by LaTeX.
Tables must have a space in column 2.
Do NOT use tabs in the help file.
Conversion from this format to vax .hlp file involves removal of
 lines starting with [?@#$%] (see doc2hlp). VMS uses the numbers
 to represent a tree. 
Conversion from this format to gnuplot .gih file involves removal of
 lines starting with [0-9@#$%] (see doc2gih). Gnuplot matches your
 help query against the ? lines to find the help information.
 Multiple ? lines for one text block constitute synonyms. The most
 specific should be first, eg 'expressions functions' before 'functions'.
 Spaces are allowed here, but should be single.
Backquote pairs are converted by the doc2tex program into boldface;
 that is, `some text` is converted to {\bf some text}. Be sure to pair
 the backquotes, or the whole document will be boldface! doc2ms converts
 `` pairs to \fB...\fR, except inside tables : for the moment, this
 has to be done manually on the lines starting %, but we ought to
 find some way to allow tables to be entered just the once !

Control characters in first column:
?    used by .gih format, for builtin interactive help - keyword
0-9  used by VMS help and by doc2{tex,ms} formatters to define level,keyword
@    used by doc2{tex,ms,rnh} to define table start/end
#    used by doc2tex: table entry
%    used by doc2ms: table entry
^    used by doc2html : hypertext link
<    the help from the terminal driver files is inserted at this point.
C    comment (mainly for RCS ID line)
C#   reserved form of comment (used internally by termdoc.c)


Tables:
-------

Here is a sample table:

@start table - first is interactive cleartext form
     Symbol       Example      Explanation
       ?:          a?b:c     ternary operation
#\begin{tabular}{|ccl|} \hline
#\multicolumn{3}{|c|}{Ternary Operator} \\
#Symbol & Example & Explanation \\ \hline
#\verb~?:~ & \verb~a?b:c~ & ternary operation\\
%c c l .
%Symbol@Example@Explanation
%_
%?:@a?b:c@* ternary operation

@end table

"doc2tex" and "doc2ms" are the formats that do something with tables
other than copy them verbatim.  It is best to bracket a table in a
"@start table"/"@end table" pair.

Inside the "@start"/"@end" block are three independent sets of commands:
those that begin with "#" will be processed by "doc2tex" only, those
that begin with "%" will be processed by "doc2ms" only, and all others
will be copied verbatim by all other "doc2"s.  So the commands may be
shuffled together, as long as the order of each of the three sets is
unchanged.  That is, the example could be written this way without any
effect on the result:

@start table - first is interactive cleartext form
#\begin{tabular}{|ccl|} \hline
%c c l .
#\multicolumn{3}{|c|}{Ternary Operator} \\
%Symbol@Example@Explanation
     Symbol       Example      Explanation
#Symbol & Example & Explanation \\ \hline
%_
       ?:          a?b:c     ternary operation
#\verb~?:~ & \verb~a?b:c~ & ternary operation\\
%?:@a?b:c@* ternary operation

@end table

In LaTeX, the command "\begin{tabular}{|ccl|} \hline" creates a
three-column table having the first two columns centered, the third column
left-justified, a vertical line at each side, and a horizontal line drawn
first.  Thus the table will be enclosed in a box ("doc2tex" provides the
closing "\hline").  A double-backslash is a line skip.  In the table
entries themselves, the ampersand is the column separator.  If any LaTeX
special characters are in the table, they must be written within "\verb"
constructs, as is the case with the question mark in the example.

In nroff, the command "c c l ." creates a three-column table justified
the same way as the LaTeX table discussed above.  The ampersand is the
column separator.


Rules for stylistic consistency (courtesy Jens Emmerich):
---------------------------------------------------------

0. General

   * Use your brain -- the reader has one, too (at least in theory).

   * Format according to the logical structure, not according to
     visual charm.

   * Keep things short.  Don't split lines without a good reason.  Many
     people still use 24 line terminals/screens.  Backslashify lines
     only in code examples.


1. Verbatim lines: start column and line length 

   * Verbatim text starts in column 8 (7 spaces before the text).  The
     reason is that "Syntax:" is 7 and "Examples:" is 9 characters
     wide.  Adding the space in column 1 we have 1 resp. 3 characters
     "overlap" in the online text versions, which is still easy to
     read as all commands are at least 3 characters long.  This does
     not apply to the "interactive clear text form"-tables.

   * The rightmost used column is column 73 (counting from 1).  This
     allows LaTeX formatted documents with only slightly wider text
     than default, which adds to readability.

2. Line spacing

   * An empty line goes before "Syntax:" and "Example:", but not after
     them.  Without these keywords, add an empty line before verbatim
     lines if they are not embedded in a sentence.

   * Leave blank lines within verbatim environments only if it is
     really needed for clarity.

   * Verbatim environments are separated from the following text by a
     blank line, but not if they are embedded in a sentence.

   * Short explanations within examples can be embedded within
     comments if they are really short, otherwise use "normal" text
     (beginning at column 2) and leave no blank lines between the text
     and the example.

3. Spaces around braces 

   * In general don't put a space after an opening "{" or before a
     closing brace "}".  This makes everything wider and harder to
     spot.

   * Do insert a space in the following situations:
     
     - where it adds clarity to nesting levels >=3 of braces; usually
       only one brace for the outermost brace on a particular line 
       (see 'set grid')
     
     - on multiple line optional constructs (see 'set xtics')

   * Separate multiple optional constructs by a space.

   * Don't separate them if they belong together. (see 'set title')

   * Do separate them if they belong together but require a space in
     between (see 'set ticscale').

   * Part of these rules are really a consequence of gnuplot's
     inconsistent syntax.

4. Placing and spaces around "|"

   * Place a space before and after the "|".  Otherwise the
     alternatives tend to optically 'melt' and they are harder to
     read. 

   * Keep or-expressions on one line, if possible.

   * On multi-line expressions place the "|" at the beginning of the
     next line rather than the end of the first.  This makes it easier
     to see that the expression continues.  Align the first components;
     this requires indenting the first line a bit further (see 'set
     cntrparam').
 
5. Comma-separated optional argument lists

   * Place the space before the opening brace rather within the braces
     after the comma (as one normally does) (see 'set isosamples').