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MetaPost refers to both a programming language and the interpreter of the MetaPost programming language. Both are derived from Donald Knuth's Metafont language and interpreter. MetaPost excels at producing diagrams in the PostScript programming language from a geometric/algebraic description. The language shares Metafont's elegant declarative syntax for manipulating lines, curves, points and geometric transformations. However,
Many of the limitations of MetaPost derive from features of Metafont. For instance, numbers have a low-precision fixed-point representation, sufficient for representing the coordinates of points in a glyph, but this can be restrictive when working with figures in a larger coordinate space. Moreover, MetaPost does not support all features of PostScript. Most notably, paths can have only one segment (so that regions are simply connected), and regions can be filled only with uniform colours. PostScript level 1 supports tiled patterns and PostScript 3 supports Gouraud shading. To this end, the Asymptote graphics language has been developed to address these shortcomings.
MetaPost is distributed with many current distributions of the TeX and Metafont framework. In particular, it is included in the teTeX and the TeX Live distribution, common on Linux and Unix (including Mac OS X) platforms.
The encapsulated postscript produced by Metapost is easily included in TeX, ConTeXt, and LaTeX documents via standard eps-inclusion commands. Particularly useful is the ability to include this output in the PDFTeX dialect of TeX, thus giving Portable Document Format output from TeX in a single step. This ability is implemented in ConTeXt and in the LaTeX graphics package, and can be used from plain TeX via the supp-pdf.tex macro file. ConTeXt even supports the creation of MetaPost files from within the TeX file.
Although MetaPost itself cannot generate fonts, there is another program, METATYPE1, that is designed to create Type 1 fonts through MetaPost.
This is a single file example.mp which when processed by the MetaPost interpreter (via the command mpost on Linux) produces three eps files example.1, example.2, example.3. These are pictured on the right.
transform pagecoords; pagecoords:=identity scaled 10mm shifted (100mm,150mm); beginfig (1) fill ((0,0)--(2,0)--(2,1)--(1,1)--(1,2)--(0,2)--cycle) transformed pagecoords withcolor green; draw ((2,0)..(2,1)..(1,1)..(1,2)..(0,2)) transformed pagecoords; drawarrow ((0,0)--(2,2)) transformed pagecoords; endfig; beginfig (2) draw (for i=0 upto 7: dir (135i)-- endfor cycle) transformed pagecoords; endfig; pagecoords:=identity scaled 15mm shifted (100mm,150mm); beginfig (3); % declare paths to be used path p[],p[]t; % set up points by defining relationships z1=(0,0); z2=z1+2up; z3=z1+whatever*dir (60)=z2+whatever*dir (-50); z4=z3+(-1.5,-.5); z5=z1+dir (135); z0=whatever[z1,z2]=whatever[z3,z4]; % set up paths p0=fullcircle yscaled .5 rotated 45 shifted z0 ; p1=z2---z4..z0..z3---z1; p2=p1 cutbefore p0 cutafter p0; p3=p0 cutbefore p1 cutafter p1; p4=p2---p3---cycle; % define transformed versions of paths and points for i=0 upto 4: p[i]t=p[i] transformed pagecoords; endfor for i=0 upto 5: z[i]t=z[i] transformed pagecoords; endfor % do some drawing fill p4t withcolor (1,1,0.2); draw z1t---z2t withcolor .5white; draw z3t---z4t withcolor .5white; pickup pencircle; draw p0t dashed withdots scaled .3; draw p1t dashed evenly; draw p2t withcolor blue; draw p3t withcolor red; label.lrt (btex $z_0$ etex, z0t); label.llft (btex $z_1$ etex, z1t); label.top (btex $z_2$ etex, z2t); label.rt (btex $z_3$ etex, z3t); label.llft (btex $z_4$ etex, z4t); for i=0 upto 4: drawdot z[i]t withpen pencircle scaled 2; endfor endfig; bye
The resulting three eps files can be used in TeX via LaTeX's \includegraphics command, ConTeXt's \externalfigure, Plain TeX's \epsfbox command, or (in Plain pdftex) the \convertMPtoPDF command from supp-pdf.tex. To view or print the third diagram, this inclusion is necessary, as the TeX fonts (Computer Modern) are not included in the eps files produced by MetaPost.
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