Plotting options in Python

Clawpack includes utilities for plotting using Python. Most of these are defined in the clawpack.visclaw module. In order to use these you will need to insure that you have the required modules installed (see Installation of required modules).

See Python Hints for more information on Python and pointers to many tutorials.

Producing html plots from the command line

In most Clawpack directories, typing:

$  make .plots

will compile the code and run it (if necessary) and then produce a set of html files that can be used to view the resulting plots. These will be in a subdirectory of the current directory as specified by PLOTDIR in the Makefile.

Producing a latex file with plots from the command line

A latex file with all the plots can also be produced by printframes, and is also typically controlled by options set in the file

Setting plot parameters with a setplot function

Typically each applications directory contains a file, see for example Plotting examples. This file should define a function setplot(plotdata) that sets various attributes of an object plotdata of class ClawPlotData.

Documentation on how to create a setplot function and the various plotting parameters that can be set can be found in the section Using to specify the desired plots.

Examples can be found at Plotting examples.

Interactive plotting with Iplotclaw

For interactive plotting we suggest using IPython, which is a nicer shell than the pure python shell, with things like command completion and history.

Here’s an example:

$  ipython
In [1]: from clawpack.visclaw.Iplotclaw import Iplotclaw
In [2]: ip = Iplotclaw()
In [3]: ip.plotloop()
Executing setplot ...

Interactive plotclaw with ndim = 1 ...
Type ? at PLOTCLAW prompt for list of commands

    Start at which frame [default=0] ?
    Plotting frame 0 ...
    Plotting frame 1 ...
In [4]:

Type ? at the PLOTCLAW prompt or ?command-name for more information. Most commonly used are n for next frame, p for previous frame and j to jump to a different frame. Hitting return at the prompt repeats the previous command.

You can restart the plotloop later by doing:

In [4]: ip.plotloop()

Interactive plotclaw with ndim = 1 ...
Type ? at PLOTCLAW prompt for list of commands

    Start at which frame [default=1] ?
    Replot data for frame 1 [no] ?

By default it starts at the frame where you previously left off.

If you want to change plot parameters, the easiest way is to edit the file, either in a different window or, if you use vi, by:


and then re-execute the setplot function using:

PLOTCLAW > resetplot

If you recompute results by running the fortran code again and want to plot the new results (from this same directory), you may have to clear the frames that have already been viewed using:

PLOTCLAW > clearframes

Or you can redraw the frame you’re currently looking at without clearing the rest of the cached frame data by doing:


To see what figures, axes, and items have been defined by setplot:


Current plot figures, axes, and items:
  figname = Pressure, figno = 1
     axesname = AXES1, axescmd = subplot(1,1,1)
        itemname = ITEM1,  plot_type = 1d_plot

  figname = Velocity, figno = 2
     axesname = AXES1, axescmd = subplot(1,1,1)
        itemname = ITEM1,  plot_type = 1d_plot

Type “help” or “help command-name” at the prompt for more options.

Access to current_data

If you are viewing plots in using Iplotclaw and want to explore the data for some frame or make plots directly in your Python shell, the data that is being plotted is available to you in attributes of the Iplotclaw instance. For example:

>>> ip = Iplotclaw();  ip.plotloop()

Interactive plotting for Clawpack output...

Plotting data from outdir =  _output
    Plotting Frame 0 at t = 0.0

>>> pd = ip.plotdata
>>> cd = ip.current_data

The cd object contains the current_data used for the most recent plot, while pd is the ClawPlotData object that gives access to all the plotting parameters currently being used as well as to methods such as getframe for retrieving other frames of data from this computation.

If you want to change the directory outdir where the frame data is coming from, you could do, for example:

>>> pd.outdir = "_output2"
>>> ip.plotloop()
PLOTCLAW > clearframes    # to remove old frames from cache
PLOTCLAW > rr             # to redraw current frame number but with new data


Need to update

The function pyclaw.plotters.frametools.printframes can be used to produce html and latex versions of the plots:

>>> from import ClawPlotData
>>> from clawpack.visclaw import frametools
>>> plotclaw = ClawPlotData()
>>> # set attributes as desired
>>> frametools.printframes(plotclaw)

A convenience method of ClawPlotData is defined to apply this function, e.g.:

>>> plotclaw.printframes()

This function is automatically called by the “make .plots” option available in most examples.

Specifying what and how to plot

The first step in specifying how to plot is to create a ClawPlotData object to hold all the data required for plotting. This is generally done by creating a file (see below).

Note that when you use Iplotclaw to do interactive plotting, e.g.:

>>> ip = Iplotclaw()

Then object ip will have an attribute plotdata that is a ClawPlotData object. This object will have attribute setplot initialized to ‘’, indicating that other attributes should be set by executing the setplot function defined in the file ‘’ in this directory.

Once you have a ClawPlotData object you can set various attributes to control what is plotted interactively if you want. For example,:

>>> plotdata.plotdir = '_plots'
>>> plotdata.setplot = ''

will cause hardcopy to go to subdirectory _plots of the current directory and will cause the plotting routines to execute:

>>> from my_setplot_file import setplot
>>> plotdata = setplot(plotdata)

before doing the plotting.

There are many other ClawPlotData attributes and methods.

Most example directories contain a file that contains a function setplot(). This function sets various attributes of the ClawPlotData object to control what figures, axes, and items should be plotted for each frame of the solution.

For an outline of how a typical set of plots is specified, see Using to specify the desired plots.