Summary Graphics file conversion

Subject: Summary Graphics file conversion
From: Eric Muehling <FNERM -at- ACAD3 -dot- ALASKA -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 1994 08:27:06 -0900

Subject: Summary Graphics file conversion

Last week I posted a message to TECHWR-L asking how to
convert graphics files from UNIX and DOS environments
to the Macintosh, and asked for software/freeware

To reduce traffic on this forum I requested responses
at my private mailbox and summarized replies off-line.

Responses include:
1 Sources of shareware on the network
2 Specific software recommendations

Thank you all for sharing your experience and time. -- Eric


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.

Hope this helps.


There are systems out there that are part of the NCSA group. PGMplus is
one of
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
this type.b


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.


For the Mac, get Debabelizer, it will convert just about anything to
Cost is about $100 - check MacWarehouse catalog.


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
product literature.

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,
and more."


You might want to consider:

<A NAME="Kay92">
[Kay92] Kay, David and Levine, John, <B>Graphics File
Windcrest/McGraw-Hill, May 1992, ISBN 0-8306-3059-7
ISBN 0-8306-3060-0 (hardcover), 278 pp.


<A NAME="Carlson91">
[Carlson91] Carlson, W. E., <I>A Survey of Computer
Graphics Ima
ge Encoding and Storage Formats</I>,
Computer Graphics, vol. 25 no. 2 (April 1991)


There is a newsgroup devoted to graphics as well as a FAQ (frequently
questions) list that answers these questions. Look in
or for FAQ's or look in
for various utilities.

SGI also has a FAQ on graphics for it's platform available via ftp from or 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


Good luck. If you expect TIFF to be portable, you're going to need it.

Use PBMplus under Unix (freeware), and GIFconverter on the Mac
I find the combination of these two tools to be invaluable.



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

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