On Mon, 8 Feb 2016 17:08:04 +0100
Mojca Miklavec <mojca.miklavec.li...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 8 February 2016 at 16:56, Andreas Schneider wrote:
> >
> > FWIW, I cannot even find the module pgfplots. Apparently it is no
> > longer in the modules repository (for the minimals).  
> For "simplicity" (should not be read as "for intuitiveness") it's
> packaged together with tikz. So you would install with with
> --modules=t-tikz.

Or the install option --modules=all

> > I assume it is no longer maintained. Therefore the version you use
> > is most likely not matching up to the ConTeXt version you use and
> > is only a relict from a time past, when the module was still
> > available.  
> The last commit to the repository was at the end of January 2016 (see
> https://sourceforge.net/p/pgfplots/code/ci/master/tree/), so I don't
> believe the maintenance is the issue. But the cross-section of ConTeXt
> users and pgfplots users might be a relatively small group.
> Neither the main developer of ConTeX is using pgfplots not the
> pgfplots developer uses ConTeXt, so problems only get discovered when
> users report them. (And maybe we should set up some basic testing of
> the modules on some server for early reporting of issues.)

Pgfplots is a pretty sophisticated package based on TikZ/pgf. TikZ/pgf
is a mostly LaTeX-oriented graphics package that always has had very
good ConTeXt support. Yet, it is inherently designed to deal with the
limitations of LaTeX, whereas ConTeXt integrates MetaPost as a native
graphics library.

Many users are extremely happy with TikZ. In addition, TikZ has an
excellent manual and tutorial. Pgfplots builds upon this tradition and
is also quite satisfying to many users.

I, personally, greatly prefer the MetaPost language, in particular its
ability to solve equations. This is extremely elegant and powerful, yet
is not at all intuitive for most users. The situation for plotting data
in MetaPost is much less evolved than for pgfplots. We have adapted
John Hobby's "graph" package to work properly with MetaPost's (new)
double precision mathematics system, yet it remains a fairly simple, 2D
graph macro package which does not meet all means of displaying
numerical data. Being "simple", it is also rather clever, and I find
performs rather well within its intended purpose.

Several ConTeXt users have written macros to produce other sorts of
graphs, such as bar graphs and pie charts and the like. Indeed, now
that the MetaPost library has be given a neat interface to lua, we are
able to imagine writing a comprehensive plotting package in
context/lua, using MetaPost as a drawing engine. Such a project is in
our future plans but has yet to be undertaken. Pgfplots can, and
should, serve as a good model for usage or need, but should not at all
serve as a model for implementation.

May I invite someone who uses pgfplots and ConTeXt to eventually make a
presentation at the next ConTeXt meeting? This could serve to bring the
discussion forward.

Again, TikZ and pgfplots have always provided support for ConTeXt
(including in the manuals) so they should be functional. As Mojca
states, problems do sometimes surface and we rely on users to report
them so that the two systems remain compatible.

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