Here's looking at Euclid.
April 23, 2010 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find free geometry text diagram creating software? Even not so free software seems to not do what I want. I want to be able to draw simple plane geometry figures (e.g. right triangles) with markings (e.g. to indicate lines are perpendicular or angles are equal) and labels (e.g. of a line's length or the name of an angle) and such.

Instead, the software I find can create tessellations or have it dynamically adjust to maintain conditions or plot curves or calculate areas, or do 3D perspectives--fancy stuff I don't need. I just want to draw the kind of pictures in the regents review books or high school texts.

I've tried Geometer's Sketch Pad (saves in funny formats) and Geogebra and others whose names I've already forgotten.
posted by Obscure Reference to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Consider taking a look at Kig (screenshots). If you're on OS X, you can get to it though fink.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:39 PM on April 23, 2010

Inkscape is a free vector drawing program which can easily draw all those diagrams and save in all popular vector formats as well as raster formats. It works with SVG as its native format which is actually editable with any text editor such as Notepad++.
posted by JJ86 at 1:41 PM on April 23, 2010

Inkscape is really nice. If you need to convert SVG to something else and you don't have Adobe Illustrator, you could install Imagemagick, which includes a conversion tool called convert. To make a PNG file from an SVG file, for example, you just type in convert illustration.svg image.png.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 PM on April 23, 2010

Adobe Illustrator is the best program for making vector art (it was used to make all the beautiful pictures in this book. If you're an educator, or somehow affiliated with a university, you can probably get it for free or at a discount.
posted by fatty magoo at 1:50 PM on April 23, 2010

I remember trying to learn Illustrator and failing. (I've gotten less smart in the intervening years and more impatient.) I also remember trying inkscape for something and failing too, not because it was insufficiently powerful, but because it took too many steps to do something which I needed to be simple (can't remember what it was, alas.) Maybe what I want doesn't exist. Maybe I'll be one of those people like in the metatalk thread where others ought to choose the best answer. I'm going to try Kig, though, since I'd never done so.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:13 PM on April 23, 2010

I'm curious what's out there--I use OmniGraffle or Keynote (which isn't free but I have already).
posted by Schmucko at 2:20 PM on April 23, 2010

What operating system do you have?

My wife is a high school geometry teacher, and I think she usually does it by hand or has me do fancy computer stuff (really just Photoshop or any other paint program). I'll ask if she knows of anything else.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:37 PM on April 23, 2010

you didn't actually say what output you wanted?

Kig outputs to LaTeX (among other things) which was exactly what I wanted... it's a little buggy but does exactly what you want i think...
posted by at 3:24 PM on April 23, 2010

I am a geometry teacher.

You can make accurate diagrams the the geometer's sketchpad and then copy & paste into preview (on a mac) to get PDFs. It works but it's clunky. And not free.

I have heard that OmniGraffle can be good at this sort of thing, but it doesn't have controls for actually computing rotations or parallel lines or precise angle measures, as far as I know.

You can do this sort of thing in illustrator or a free version, but again, you have to eyeball the accuracy.

TiKz can probably do what you want, but it's not a drawing program, exactly, and you'd be working in coordinates.

Similarly, something like Mathematica can produce what you want, but you need to tell it coordinates.

There's a program called Cinderella which is kind of like Sketchpad which you can also export from.

In a pinch, you can use Keynote.

But I don't think there's a solution that is both good and free. The easiest, effort-wise, is making the diagrams in Sketchpad and copy-paste exporting. There's a bug in that it exports the background as well, so you end up with a faint gray box; if it's a problem for what you're doing (like when I'm creating diagrams for an article) you can edit the PDF and remove the offending layer (but you need access to something like illustrator; I don't know if inkskape would be adequate. )

I guess part of the question is if you need/want your diagrams to be accurate and how many diagrams you need to construct.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:05 PM on April 23, 2010

Oh, I forgot. What was it about GeoGebra that you didn't like? From the little I've interacted with it, it seems like that might be your best bet, after Sketchpad.

Unless you just want a drawing program, which is an entirely different approach.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:07 PM on April 23, 2010

Accuracy in Inkscape is dependent on how many decimal points you want to use. Like I mentioned earlier, the native SVG files can be easily edited in a text program! You can modify the actual coordinates of the polygon to whatever level of accuracy is desired. I can't imagine a simpler program to use in all honesty. You could do something as simple as writing your own SVG file in Notepad which can be opened in Inkscape as a vector drawing. For anyone in mathematics, nothing would be more intuitive than hand-coding an SVG drawing. Basic tutorials are easy to find and easy to master in a day.
posted by JJ86 at 4:48 PM on April 23, 2010

also in the OSX space is OmniGraphSketcher...
posted by russm at 8:23 PM on April 23, 2010

Both of these are designed to support more interaction than it sounds like you need, but you could look at KSEG or DrGeo. (I've used KSEG a long time ago, but have never used DrGeo.) Both free.
posted by hattifattener at 11:47 PM on April 23, 2010

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