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We have similar inputs, only worse. We're in the middle with
Sun workstations typesetting with TeX. Researchers on Crays send
us visualizations, and produce other illustrations with Mac
CricketGraph, Claris CAD, MacDraw, what-have-you.
What works for us is to ask for EPS. The major numerical applications
on the Crays here will put out PostScript, tho it's usually not the
The only program we've found to enable us to *edit* postscript
illustrations is IslandDraw (runs on Sun). With Adobe Illustrator
or Aldus Freehand you can import a postscript file, but you can only
place it somewhere on the page, not modify it. IslandDraw lets us
import the postscript, ungroup the objects, and get down and change the
typeface on a legend, or change the width of a line.
No, there aren't many STANDARDS. There are lots of proprietary things
the marketing people *call* standards. Here's how you tell the
difference: a STANDARD has a number assigned to it by a standards-making
body such as ANSI, IEEE, ISO, and you can buy a document defining
the interfaces and meanings. Try that with MacWrite. Or Quark.
Or Novell NetWare. or .... Postscript is the closest thing to a
because you can -- for the price of the book -- buy a description of
the language, but it's only close to a standard because Adobe owns it.
File translation is, I think, a little too simple. I think you need
a program like IslandDraw to *interpet* what was meant by the contents
of the original file, and to then regenerate an equivalent description
in another graphics language.
There are systems out there that are part of the NCSA group. PGMplus is
them. Try looking at old discussions on the confocal mail list
(CONFOCAL -at- UBVM -dot- cc -dot- buffalo -dot- edu) or the NIH-Image mail listserv
(nih-image -at- soils -dot- umn -dot- edu) where there have been lots of discussion of
Search the University of Michigan Macintosh Archives. They have all the
info you asked about, including a summary of graphic file types -- one
of the README files in the graphics section, I recall. Use gopher to
get to it. You can also try the SUMEX (sp?) at Stanford (I believe)
but this site is quite popular and they have relatively few ports, so
you can rarely get into it. Also, it's not nearly as easy to use (read:
well organized) as University of Michigan.
I am a writer/editor in CRI's marketing communications
department--we have to work with converting visualization images to
the Macintosh platform all the time, since that's the platform we
use to produce Cray Channels, our customer magazine, and all of our
We use a program called DeBabelizer, which is listed in the
MacWarehouse catalog (1-800-622-6222) at $189. This program has
been fantastic in converting images generated on UNIX workstations
to image formats we can use on the Mac; I believe we use PICT most of
the time. The only file format we have trouble with is Sun-generated
PostScript; for some reason, these files have to be edited/tweaked
somehow (don't ask me, but if you need to know, I can put you in
touch with someone who may be able to help).
According to the blurb in the catalog, "it supports over 50
different graphic and animation formats--from and to Macintosh,
DOS/Windows, Silicon Graphics, Amiga, Sun Microsystems, X Windows,
There is a newsgroup devoted to graphics as well as a FAQ (frequently
questions) list that answers these questions. Look in comp.graphics
or comp.graphics.visualization for FAQ's or look in
for various utilities.
SGI also has a FAQ on graphics for it's platform available via ftp from
sgi.com:faq/graphics or rtfm.mit.edu has this FAQ as well as many
If you want some decent translation utilities look no further than
That package is a suite of tools for converting from a very wide variety
of image formats into other image formats. It is avaialble from many of
the more popular ftp sites including export.lcs.mit.edu.
Eric Muehling / Information Officer
Arctic Region Supercomputing Center
University of Alaska voice 907-474-5149
PO Box 756020 fax 907-474-5494
Fairbanks AK 99775 - 6020 e-mail fnerm -at- arsc -dot- alaska -dot- edu