I recently externalized some of my often used TikZ commands into a library. This is as simple as writing the commands to a dedicated file and naming it tikzlibraryname.code.tex. Then it can be included using \usetikzlibrary{name}.

But this only works if it is placed in the same directory as the file that includes it or resides at some globally known include path. Trying a relative path like \usetikzlibrary{../name} results in an error

! I can't find file `tikzlibrary../name.code.tex'.

\input{../tikzlibraryname.code.tex} would be a workaround. Using the proper command \usetikzlibrary should be preferred though.

Can a tikz library be loaded from a relative path?

  • 2
    Add the custom file and it's path to your texmf – percusse Dec 7 '13 at 12:13
  • The library is part of a project also for others to access. I want to avoid directing everyone to move the file into their local texmf directory. – XZS Dec 7 '13 at 12:17
  • 1
    \usetikzlibrary simply adds tikzlibrary in front of the arguments separated by ,. Those files are supposed to be found by TeX. We could patch \usetikzlibrary to test for a . or a / at the start of the filename and parse the string so that it does ../tikzlibraryname.code.tex but that fix needs to be able to be found by TeX or placed directly in the document. If the user changes the placement of the tikzlibraryname.code.tex outside of a path that can be found by TeX they might just be better off to use \input? (So the answer would be "No.") – Qrrbrbirlbel Dec 7 '13 at 16:00
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    @XZS: Hardcoding paths is wrong. – Martin Schröder Dec 7 '13 at 23:31
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    Why not package your "often used TikZ commands" in a .sty file instead? That would be easier. – jub0bs Dec 8 '13 at 18:59

The following is the definition of \usetikzlibrary

      \expandafter\ifx\csname tikz@library@\pgf@temp @loaded\endcsname\relax%
      \expandafter\global\expandafter\let\csname tikz@library@\pgf@temp @loaded\endcsname=\pgfutil@empty%
      \expandafter\edef\csname tikz@library@#1@atcode\endcsname{\the\catcode`\@}
      \expandafter\edef\csname tikz@library@#1@barcode\endcsname{\the\catcode`\|}
      \expandafter\edef\csname tikz@library@#1@dollarcode\endcsname{\the\catcode`\$}
          \tikzerror{I did not find the tikz library
            '\pgf@temp'. I looked for files named
            tikzlibrary\pgf@temp.code.tex and
            pgflibrary\pgf@temp.code.tex, but neither
            could be found in the current texmf trees.}
      \catcode`\@=\csname tikz@library@#1@atcode\endcsname
      \catcode`\|=\csname tikz@library@#1@barcode\endcsname
      \catcode`\$=\csname tikz@library@#1@dollarcode\endcsname

Notice that \usetikzlibrary[fpu] is just an alternative to \usetikzlibrary{fpu}. It does not eat options.

From the definition you can see that \usetikzlibrary takes cares of the following

  • Check if the library is loaded. Some library can only be loaded once.
  • Remember the catcode of sensitive characters @, |, and $. This allows you to use \tikzlibrary almost anywhere. In face, you can use it inside a tikzpicture.
  • Test if the file exists. If so, input it.

The definition of the last check is

    {\input #1\relax#2}

you can modify its definition by

\def\pgfutil@InputIfFileExists#1#2#3{\pgfutil@IfFileExists{\tikz@library@directory #1}
    {\input \tikz@library@directory #1\relax#2}

with customized \tikz@library@directory.

  • \usetikzlibrary[fpu] is for context if I remember correctly – percusse Apr 22 '17 at 19:29
  • @percusse Almost forgot ConTeXt. Yes, it definitely is. As the manual suggests. – Symbol 1 Apr 22 '17 at 19:32

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