General FAQ

You sure have a lot of questions!

What is PlotShare?

PlotShare is an easy to use web plotter based on gnuplot that helps you to visualize your data.

You can quickly and easily:

  • create plots from mathematical functions and uploaded data sets,
  • share plots with colleagues and friends,
  • collaboratively work on these plots with others and
  • use templates to create beautiful graphs.

Do I need to know gnuplot?

You can compile almost every gnuplot script with just a few restrictions. But you do not really have to know how to use gnuplot in order to produce nice looking plots. The Tutorial section below will help you with the most basic plots and the Templates will show you more versatile examples.

What is different to gnuplot?

You do not have to set outputs, the web interface will automatically take care of output assignment. Every plot command will generate a separate image. Since this page will provide several image formats automatically, do also do not have to set any terminal.

You might want to look into the Gnuplot Short Reference for some extra functionality that will not be listed on this page.

Who would use PlotShare ?

PlotShare is (of course) for everyone but it is especially helpful for those, who need quicks plots and do not want to depend on third party software. Some of the applications include:

  • Plot scientific data for college protocols and share it with colleagues instantaneously.
  • Quickly check how certain functions look like.
  • Plot statistics that you want to show others.
  • Evaluate and visualize data in a very quick way.

Why shouldn't I use other plotters like Wolfram Alpha?

  • You can plot external data in a very convenient way - Wolfram for example cannot.
  • You can plot several functions into different files at once and download them, either solemnly or in a zip-File.
  • You can use the powerful syntax of gnuplot which is especially good for those, who are used to it.

Are there any advantages over using gnuplot directly?

You can use PlotShare even when you have never heard of gnuplot before, because the simple things like function plotting are very intuitive and probably need not prior knowledge. Beside that you do not have to think about setting the output and the terminal right and concentrate on the plot itself. Also it gives you the possibility to directly share plots with your friends instead of sharing those plots via e-mail or subversioning. You can also directly view ALL your results on one page just with one click, so you do not have to switch to the single plot files in order to view your results which can be pretty annoying sometimes. Also it can be much more productive when you create a certain plot file and test it, because results can be reviewed much quicker.

What are no suitable applications for PlotShare ?

  • No plotting of large data such as molecular dynamics simulations
  • no animation capabilities
  • messy when you constantly edit your data in a third party software because you always have to recommit this data

How can I set a title, axis names, etc... ?

In the Tutorial you can learn all the basics of how to plot functions and data, fitting this data and retrieve important data such as fitting variables.

Which tools are used for PlotShare?

The PlotShare application is running on a lighttpd web server. The framework was programmed in lua with the help of Orbit. The plots are generated with gnuplot.

Can I simply insert any of my gnuplot scripts?

PlotShare will filter all commands that might cause security problems (such as set output, set terminal, cd, !, pause, etc...) but otherwise, your gnuplot script should run as usual and produce the same results. If you depend on external data, you should first include this data either by submitting the file or pasting the data into one of the designated text areas. You probably have to adjust the filenames of your data plots to the names of the external data text fields.

What does gnuplot style option mean ?

Plotshare provides a simple preconfigured style for the first three line styles and slightly changes the axis and the grid. If you do not like this or want your script to be unchanged, use the plain option.

How much data can I upload ?

Up until now, you can upload data files up to 3 MB which should be more then enough for most of the applications of PlotShare.

How many plots can I make per day ?

No abuse has been noticed yet so there is no limit on the daily plots.

Are there any other restrictions?

Since we want to avoid spamming, only 10 of your plotting commands will actually be executed. Also the piping function of gnuplot is disabled due to server security reasons.

Which version of gnuplot is currently running on the server?

We are currently running Version 4.6 patchlevel 3 (last modified 2013-04-12) but we are constantly updating to new versions.