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idiosyncrasy (?) with gnuplot -- or just pilot error?

Posted 09-06-2015 at 10:56 AM by flshope

I just ran into the damnedest idiosyncrasy with gnuplot (http://www.gnuplot.info/). I was doing my routine spending/budget plots when suddenly gnuplot bombed with a cryptic message. I spent all morning figuring out what was wrong. In the end, as usual, it was pilot error ...

I am plotting a data file with up to 12 blocks of data (counted as 0, 1, 2, ..., 11), where each block is separated by a blank record. The command

Code:
plot "datafilename" every :::07::07
(which plots the 8th data block on the file) worked just fine, but

Code:
plot "datafilename" every :::08::08
failed and gave a message that gnuplot wanted a ";" somewhere (didn't say where).

I finally figured out that gnuplot didn't like the leading zero on 'every :::08::08', but it didn't mind a bit with 'every :::07::07'. Seems like un-gnuplot-like behavior, though I guess I am being a bit of prig for entering an unnecessary leading zero (but it kept the columns so nicely lined up with the plot commands for blocks 10 and 11 in the command file).

So my lesson-learned is: don't use leading zeroes on the 'every' command. Or maybe, the greater lesson is: don't be a pedant.

I never did figure out what gnuplot wanted me to do with the semicolon, probably stick it somewhere -- if you know what I mean.
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