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6.1 How to use plotfont

GNU plotfont is a simple utility that will produce a character map for any font available to the GNU plotting utilities graph, plot, pic2plot, and tek2plot, and the GNU libplot graphics library on which they are based. The map may be displayed on an X Window System display, or produced in any of several output formats. The ‘-T’ option is used to specify the desired output format. Supported output formats include "X", "png", "pnm", "gif", "svg", "ai", "ps", "cgm", "fig", "pcl", "hpgl", "regis", "tek", and "meta" (the default).

Which fonts are available depends on the choice of display or output format. To get a list of the available fonts, use the ‘--help-fonts’ option. For example,

     plotfont -T ps --help-fonts

will list the fonts that are available when producing Postscript output. One of these fonts is "Times-Roman". Doing

     plotfont -T ps Times-Roman >

will produce a character map of the lower half of this font, which consists of printable ASCII characters. The map will be a 12x8 grid, with a character centered in each grid cell. If you include the ‘-2’ option, you will get a map of the upper half of the font.

Most built-in fonts are ISO-Latin-1 fonts, which means that the upper half is arranged according to the ISO-Latin-1 encoding. The "HersheyCyrillic" font is one that is not. If you do

     plotfont -T ps -2 HersheyCyrillic >

you will get a map that illustrates its arrangment, which is called KOI8-R. The KOI8-R arrangement is the standard for Unix and networking applications in the former Soviet Union. So-called dingbats fonts, such as "ZapfDingbats" and "Wingdings", also have an individualistic layout. In most installations of the plotting utilities, the Wingdings font is not available when producing Postscript output. However, it is available when producing output in PCL 5 or HP-GL/2 format. If you do

     plotfont -T hpgl Wingdings > map.plt

you will get a Wingdings character map, in HP-GL/2 format, that may be imported into any application that understands HP-GL/2. Similarly, plotfont -T pcl Wingdings will produce a Wingdings character map in PCL 5 format, which may be printed on a LaserJet or other PCL 5 device.

In all, more than a hundred fonts are built into the plotting utilities. See Text Fonts. Actually, if you are using the plotting utilities to display output on an X display, you are not restricted to the built-in fonts. Doing

     plotfont -T X --help-fonts

produces a list of the built-in fonts that are available, including both Hershey and Postscript fonts. But fonts available on your X display may also be used. The xlsfonts command will list the core X fonts available on your X display, most font names being given in what is called XLFD format. The plotting utilities refer to core X fonts by shortened versions of their XLFD names. For example, the font "CharterBT-Roman" is available on many X displays. Its XLFD name is "-bitstream-charter-medium-r-normal–0-0-0-0-p-0-iso8859-1", and its shortened XLFD name is "charter-medium-r-normal". If you do

     plotfont -T X charter-medium-r-normal

then a character map for this font will be displayed in a popped-up X window.

When using the ‘-T X’ option, you may also use the ‘--bitmap-size’ option to choose the size of the popped-up window. Modern X displays can scale fonts by different amounts in the horizontal and vertical directions. If, for example, you add ‘--bitmap-size 600x300’ to the above command line, both the character map and the CharterBT-Roman font within it will be scaled in this way.