I am looking for program/package recommendations for drawing graphs. I know similar questions have been asked before, but I have some pretty specific needs because of the project I'll be working on.
I am about to start a project where I'll be creating educational materials for high school math---Trigonometry to start with. There will be a lot of educational materials: I'll be creating full courses, putting them together using Beamer. Basically, this is the beginning of a multi-year project. As part of that project, I will be creating thousands of graphs.
I'm willing to learn a new program or LaTeX package(s) to make these graphs: upfront time investment is sensible given the number of graphs I'll be producing. It's just important that learning a new program improves later turnaround-time, quality, and the range of graphs I can produce.
As of right now, I'm pretty well-versed in GLE. It's not very well-known, but it's basically a command-line program (although I use a GUI version [QGLE]) that interprets documents written in the GLE language. If you don't know GLE, it's similar to gnuplot: runs outside of TeX, has its own scripting language, results exportable to many formats.
I currently have no experience with TeX packages that do graphing. I'm willing to learn one if it looks like it would help me, but I'm worried about significant increases to my compiling time. I know there are ways to compartmentalize documents, and that TikZ (for example) can "cache" graphs to speed up subsequent compiling, but I worry about the effort involved ultimately making it slower compared to a stand-alone graphics program.
To help identify the best match for what I'm working on, here's the feature list I'm looking for, along with some explanations on why specific features are needed.
- Free and runs on Macs: No budget, work done on 2014 MacbookPro.
- Graphs 2-d functions well: High school math, so this is most important.
- Able to create template so all graphs have same "feel": It should be possible to create some sort of very easy to re-use template (starting document, code snippet, etc.) that will allow me to keep formatting options consistent.
- When working from template, quick turn-around time: It's important that such a template allow a fast turn-around once put together. If I know the view window and the function definition, it should be as simple as typing them in the appropriate spots and telling it to compile.
- Low load on Beamer typesetting: I'll have long Beamer documents already, so if I'm using a TeX package to create the graphs, it's important that compiling times don't balloon.
- Can graph polar: I'll need to make polar graphs, and they're very hard to cheat using 2-d functions.
- Color fills
- Multi-platform, open source
- Good/extensive documentation
- Sensible to learn
- Can annotate using LaTeX
- Can graph parametric
- Can graph implicit equations (x^2 + y^2 = 1, etc.)
- Can graph in 3-d
- Easy learning curve: As I said at the top, I'm willing to put a few whole days into learning whatever I wind up using. If it's a great program, it will be worth the upfront effort.
- Data plotting / Statistics work: I have no plans to produce any content on statistics in the foreseeable future, so that feature, while nice, is unneeded.
Here's the current list of candidates. I have them in the order I'm likely to use them. Like I said before, I already know GLE (and it does a decent job!), so that's why it's at the top. But if I'm going to jump ship to a different program, I need to do that now, before I get underway with the project. Still, if there is a significantly better program to use than GLE, I'm happy to make the switch.
Candidates (in order of current preference)
Summary: What is the best program for creating large quantities (1000+) of graphs? The graphs will be used in Beamer documents and compiling times are an area of possible concern. I'm willing to put in significant time learning, but it is very important that I can create an efficient workflow in the long-term.