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Anyone can give me an advice on finding a good program that would allow me to make free-body diagrams, such as a pendulum, a block descending down an inclined plane, a spring attached to a block and other simple graphics. as the ones you see in a typical physics book. I am having difficulties finding such program. I know you may say Adobe Illustrator but that's too expensive and the learning curve is very high, at least for me. Thanks.

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closed as off topic by Loop Space, Matthew Leingang, Alan Munn, Joseph Wright May 11 '11 at 11:50

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This looks off-topic to me as written. Can it be made more relevant to TeX? If not, then I'd be minded to close it. –  Joseph Wright May 11 '11 at 6:59
Relevant to TeX, don't we have a big-list question about diagraming packages (TikZ, PSTricks, xy-pic, etc) somewhere? –  Matthew Leingang May 11 '11 at 10:46
@Matthew: do you mean this one: tex.stackexchange.com/q/205/86 –  Loop Space May 11 '11 at 10:59

3 Answers 3

Your question is unrelated to TeX, but you may want to take a look at the list of vector graphic editors. For free mathematical drawing, I recommend GeoGebra. For technical drawing, you will obviously need a CAD program. A free alternative to Adobe Illustrator is Inkscape which could be used along with a plug-in to export to PGF/TikZ.

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As been stated before, the question is kinda unrelated to TeX, but I would recommend Dia for almost any kind of "simple" figures. For example the box-on-sloping-hill-with-spring scenario.

Dia also has commandline options for export, ie very useful when using Makefiles :)

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A shortcoming of Dia is the impossibility to use LaTeX markup — all special symbols get escaped. This can be disabled, but requires modifying Dia's source code (last time I checked). –  Andrey Vihrov May 11 '11 at 7:50

For the hard part, but keeping in line with TeX programs and consorts, you can take a look at Metagraf which provides a graphical frontend to Metapost.

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