Software Open Access

plt - Software for 2D Plots

George Moody

Published: Nov. 7, 2002. Version: 2.5

Please include the standard citation for PhysioNet: (show more options)
Goldberger, A., Amaral, L., Glass, L., Hausdorff, J., Ivanov, P. C., Mark, R., ... & Stanley, H. E. (2000). PhysioBank, PhysioToolkit, and PhysioNet: Components of a new research resource for complex physiologic signals. Circulation [Online]. 101 (23), pp. e215–e220.

Software Description

plt is a non-interactive plotting utility originally written for Unix by Paul Albrecht. plt can produce publication-quality 2D plots in PostScript from easily-produced text or binary data files, and can also create screen plots under the X Window System. Compared to most other software for 2D graphics, plt has several significant advantages:

  • plt generates compact vector PostScript output, which can be transmitted quickly yet can be resized without introducing raster artifacts.
  • plt works well with a wide variety of tools that create and manipulate readable text files.
  • plt is scriptable; if you need to make 100 plots of 100 data sets, you don't need to point and click for hours.
  • Complex overlays and multi-part plots are easy to make, using multiple invocations of plt to write to a single window or page.
  • plt can read data from a pipe, so it can be used to observe real-time signals or the outputs of computationally intensive processes as they become available.
  • plt imposes no fixed limits on the number of points in a plot (even the total amount of available memory is not a constraint if the data are read from a pipe and the axis limits are pre-specified).
  • plt is free, open-source software that can be modified as needed for unique applications. (plt runs on all popular platforms, including GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, MS-Windows, and Unix.)
  • plt is easy to pronounce (say: P-L-T) and is almost as easy to spell :-)

Sources for the current version of plt are available as a gzip-compressed tar archive, or as individual files in the source tree. A source RPM and a Linux (x86) binary RPM are also available, as are binaries for Mac OS X and MS-Windows. The plt Tutorial and Cookbook is available in HTML, printable PostScript and PDF formats, and in LaTeX source format.


Access Policy:
Anyone can access the files, as long as they conform to the terms of the specified license.

License (for files):
Open Data Commons Attribution License v1.0

Corresponding Author
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plt-2.5a.tar.gz (download) 3.8 MB 2019-04-12
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