[gradsusr] More about version 2.1

Jennifer Adams jma at cola.iges.org
Wed Dec 18 08:42:37 EST 2013

Dear All, 
I wrote in the ChangeLog that the graphics code had been restructured to be more "pluggable." This means that now it is much easier to switch between graphics rendering engines. If you are unhappy with the Cairo interface -- for performance reasons, or because of the output image file size, or because you rely on the interactive widgets -- it will be possible to stick with the classic interface (which has direct calls to X11 and which uses the GD library to create the image output). In future releases, we will begin to use dynamic linking. This will allow the user to choose a preferred rendering engine. The move to dynamic linking will also enable user-defined functions, and will improve the performance of GrADS, especially in environments where it is run in multiple instances in batch mode for quick jobs such as the data I/O behind the GDS or for operational image generation behind a web site. 

It is my hope that building GrADS from source will also become easier as we move to dynamic linking. The custom builds of the supplibs, which are currently optimized for static linking and portability, will be replaced by standard system installations and GrADS will only load what is necessary at run time. There are 30 (!) libraries that are statically linked with the latest release -- we believe GrADS has reached the tipping point where this strategy is now becoming a liability. 

The feature that will not return with the classic interface is the use of the print command to write out a metafile for gxps, gxeps, gxtran, and gv32. If you need vector graphics output, you will have to use version 2.1 with Cairo, or stick with version 2.0. 

So, version 2.1.a1 is "alpha" in the sense that its features are not fully developed, but I believe the new code is working well, and I encourage you to try version 2.1 and see for yourselves just how nice the graphics look with Cairo. I am working on updating the scripts behind our web site, http://wxmaps.org, to showcase the new capabilities. 

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Jennifer M. Adams
Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA)
111 Research Hall, Mail Stop 2B3
George Mason University
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030 

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