Using LaTEX with Geometers Sketchpad

(By the way, the word LaTEX is pronounced as lay-tech or L-A-tech, and it is a typesetting language.)

I never have found a “great” tool for creating ideal graphics for my exams and worksheets for use in the classes that I teach. Ideally, there would be a program that would allow me to draw basic geometric shapes like triangles, quadrilaterals, regular and non-regular polygons, circles, ellipses, parabolas, hyperboles, general functions, three dimensional shapes and surfaces, etc. In most cases, a simple GUI would be preferred where I am able to “point-and-click” to create most of my images. Obviously in more intricate drawings I’d need an interface for graphing functions. Afterward, I’d like to be able to export the drawing into any format such as a png, jpeg, gif, tiff, wmf, emf, ps, or eps. I have always been able to create what I want by combining my skills from MS Paint, Maple, Matlab, Photoshop (which I no longer have access to), Macromedia Firefox, Paint Shop Pro (which I no longer have access to), MS Work, MS Publisher, Excel, or OpenGL in C++. I used some of the Department’s budget to buy Geometer’s Sketchpad a few years ago, but I never really learned to use it. Today, I decided to become at least a little more familiar with it and use it to create some simple drawings. I then wanted to import my graphics into a LaTEX document.

Below are the two procedures I used, since GSP does not allow an export directly to any format that I can use in LaTEX or pdfLaTEX.

1. Draw the image in Geometer’s Sketchpad. There’s a bit of a learning curve in this step but I am getting the gist of it.
Option I
2. Save the GSP object as a wmf (windows metafile)
3. Use GIMP (an open source, rough equivalent of Photoshop) and open the wmf file then save it as a jpeg image. It helped to “clean up” the graphic to create the wmf file as a large image (1000 x 1000 pixels) then resize to the smaller desired size (using cubic filter for resizing).
Option II
2. Do a screen capture in GSP (using ctrl-alt-PrintScreen to copy the active window to clipboard.
3. Open a new image in GIMP (big enough to contain the active window. I know that my screen resolution is no more than 1400×1050, so I use that.). Then paste.
4. Crop the portion of the this window containing my desired image.
5. Save this as a jpeg.

Use

\includegraphics[width=##in]{image/…}

to insert the image in the LaTEX file. Note that you must have \usepackage{graphicx} in the preamble of the LaTEX file.

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2 thoughts on “Using LaTEX with Geometers Sketchpad

  1. Just thought I’d check in. My second round of tests are starting with finals ominously looming on the horizon. I survived the first round pretty good. It is hard to compete with all of these guys that already have their Master’s.

    By the way, I have been learning a lot of LaTeX. Everybody uses LaTeX for everything around here, even for presentations as an alternative to powerpoint. I think writing my thesis in LaTeX would have been so much easier and looked so much more professional.

    By the way, I’m in the middle of a project in my Computational Statistics class that requires a lot of programming. The professor recommended using C or other efficient language (not S-plus or MATLAB), though he has not taught this. My experience with C has been absolutely priceless. What I’m trying to say is thank you for forcing to learn C; it has definitely given me an edge.

    I hope you are surviving your busy schedule. Check back with me if you get a chance!
    Joel C. O’Hair

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