I have been using TikZ in drawing scientific figures for almost 2 years, and like it very much. I can say several good things about TikZ: simple and natural syntax, good documentation, drawing in spirit of (La)TeX, easy tracing the last-move-to, etc.

I am impressive with the following comment:

While the previous systems (picture, epic, pstricks or metapost) focus on the how to draw, TikZ focuses more on the what to draw.

in https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/PGF/TikZ but honestly I am not so clear what exactly it means. Is that TikZ's drawing philosophy?

I am all ears to see your opinion/explain! Thanks!  

  • 3
    I don't know, but I wouldn't necessarily take that site as representing an "official" view. Section 1.2 of the TikZ manual doesn't have any statements like that, for example. Feb 4 '19 at 21:03
  • @TorbjørnT. Yes, I know that. However I feel that comment is true, and I want to hear opinion from texSE users.
    – Black Mild
    Feb 4 '19 at 21:12
  • 2
    To me the comment suggests that the TikZ package is a better realisation of the idea of LaTeX: leave the formatting details (how to draw) to the computer so that you can focus on the content (what to draw).
    – pip
    Feb 4 '19 at 21:16
  • 4
    I checked the edit history of that page and none of the contributors to this Wikibook are PGF developers, so this statement is far from official. It is probably better to ask the authors of the Wikibook what they mean by this statement on the discussion page. Feb 4 '19 at 21:54
  • I have just accepted striped-pad’s answer, even that answer is far from complete. Really want to get more opinions!
    – Black Mild
    Feb 7 '19 at 1:09

I'm fairly new to TikZ (and LaTeX in fact), but I've been working my way through the manual, and I'm really impressed too.

I don't know about the other systems apart from the simplistic picture environment, but here are some ways TikZ focuses on "what to draw" rather than "how to draw":

  1. Nodes can be positioned relative to each other without having to position them with explicit coordinates.

  2. Nodes can be connected with edges, and TikZ picks nice defaults for how the edges attach to the perimeter of the nodes.

  3. TikZ supports a parent-child relationship with nodes, again describing semantic structure.

  4. TikZ has good styling features, so the structure of the objects being drawn can be kept separate from the detail of how to display them, rather like how HTML describes document structure and CSS describes how HTML elements are displayed.

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