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A.5.1.7 Exporting Graphics

All the old-style graphics windows have the following export options in the toolbar:

Export as PDF
Export as GIF
and additionally, the Export menu contains:
Export as Encapsulated PostScript
Export as Gzipped Encapsulated PostScript
Export as JPEG
Export as PNG
These can be used to export the currently visible plot to an external graphics format for later use.

Exporting to the pixel-based formats (GIF, JPEG, PNG) is fairly straightforward: each pixel on the screen appears as one pixel in the output file. PNG is the most capable, but it is not supported by all image viewers. GIF works well in most cases, but if there are more than 255 colours some of the colour resolution will be lost. JPEG can preserve a wide range of colours, but does not support transparency and is lossy, so close inspection of image features will reveal blurring.

When exporting to Portable Document Format (PDF) or Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), which are vector graphics formats, there are a few things to consider:

Positional Quantisation
The output file will render text, lines and markers properly, with smooth edges rather than steps where pixel boundaries would be on the screen. However, the positional resolution is the same as it would be on the screen, so if you have a 400-pixel high plot for instance, there are only 400 possible Y coordinates at which a marker can be plotted. In general this is not obvious by looking at the output plot, but you may find it helpful to increase the size of the plot on the screen by resizing the window before performing an export to EPS. This reduces the effect of the positional quantisation, but note it will also have the effect of making the text labels proportionally smaller to the graphics.
Transparency
For technical reasons transparent markers cannot easily be rendered when a plot is exported to PostScript. In some cases the plot is done using a bitmap in the PostScript output to permit transparency and in some cases the points are just plotted opaque. Try it and see; if the points come out opaque instead of transparent you may need to export to GIF instead. Better workarounds may be provided in future releases.
File Size
In some cases (2D and 3D scatter plots with many thousands of points) output EPS files can get extremely large; the size scales with the number of points drawn, currently with a factor of a few hundred bytes per point. In some cases you can work round this by plotting some points as transparent so that the plot is rendered as a bitmap (see the discussion of transparency above) which scales as the number of pixels rather than the number of points. The Gzipped EPS format helps somewhat (though can be slow); PDF output is better still. Even PDF files may be unmanageably large for very many points however.


Next Previous Up Contents
Next: Histogram (old-style)
Up: Common Features
Previous: Defining Subsets by Region

TOPCAT - Tool for OPerations on Catalogues And Tables
Starlink User Note253
TOPCAT web page: http://www.starlink.ac.uk/topcat/
Author email: m.b.taylor@bristol.ac.uk
Mailing list: topcat-user@jiscmail.ac.uk