If I need a figure for a document I usually use TikZ or PSTricks. Sometimes I would like to promote it to other people who usually use only GUI programs for such kind of stuff. But then I restrain myself and don't promote anything because I have the feeling that I don't have good objective arguments which the other person can understand.

For me it is

  • I have the feeling to have complete control over everything when using TikZ/PSTricks over any GUI tool.
  • I can create commands which take parameters as argument and return a figure depending on the argument.
  • It gives me a consistend look in a LaTeX document (same fonts, fontsizes,...).
  • There is a very friendly, active community out there (TeX.SX) where I can get help on most of my questions. :-)
  • It's just fun.

However I feel this is not convincing enough for a typical GUI user and I feel that one can get those things also using GUI programs (though I don't know how).

So are there better or clearer objective reasons to prefer TikZ or PSTricks over any GUI driven program. Do you have some good examples which illustrates the basic advantages of those command line driven tools in some way dramatically?

  • IMHO the third item is the most important. Also, the fact that we can programme the code allow us to skip the hand align objects. For example, to insert labels on each mark over an axis. – Sigur Nov 20 '14 at 20:29
  • agree with @Sigur and would in addition apply the term "precision" to characterize the degree of control. – barbara beeton Nov 20 '14 at 20:47
  • I would also add "integration": with tikz you have all your code in one place and you compile it all at once; with a GUI program you would have to save - export - latex every time you make a change to the drawing. But I do not completely agree with the first point: I believe that if you know and use a serious graphics program well enough, you can have the same degree of control and precision. – nplatis Nov 20 '14 at 21:06
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    tikz is OK but it's hard to achieve the artistic heights that one can achieve with a GUI as demonstrated for example in this answer – David Carlisle Nov 20 '14 at 22:50
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    Don't underestimate the GUI tools though. They lack typographical precision but you can cook up lots of images instead of fixing the indentation of the closing braces ;) Besides somethings are just impossible with both tools compared to say Illustrator. – percusse Nov 20 '14 at 23:42

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