This is the homepage of Sinister, a small tool for extracting data from scientific plots.

You can download the very first (0.1?) version from here.

To be done.

Sinister is written in Tcl/Tk, and needs this language to be present on the computer where it is run. This is generally true for UNIX/Linux systems. I've never tried to run Sinister on another kind of platforms (e.g. M$ Windows-based systems). However, if there exists a Tcl-Tk implementation for your machine, you are likely to be able to use Sinister.

The installation of Sinister is very easy: just download this compressed tar file and extract its contents (on UNIX/Linux, tar xvzf sinister.tgz should do).
This should create a sinister directory, where you should find (at least) the following files:
- sinister.tcl: sinister itself
- helptext.txt: text file which will be shown by the help system
- README: installation instructions
- COPYING: the GNU GPL license
- example.gif: an example of a scientific plot

In order to start Sinister, just go inside the sinister directory (where the sinister.tcl file should reside) and give the command ./sinister.tcl
This should open a Sinister window (automatically loading the example.gif file).
In order to extract data from a figure, you will need to load it, define the x and y axis and then get the data. I hope this is straightforward enough with the current interface, as I am not planning to write an user's manual.

The most likely problem you will have is that Tcl/Tk is not installed on your machine. If that is the case, you will need to install it!

However, another possibility is that Tcl/Tk is installed in a directory which is different from the one where Sinister expects it to be. You can find out if this is the case by looking for an executable file named "wish": Sinister assumes that wish resides in the /usr/bin directory. If you actually have wish, but it is in a different directory, you just need to edit the first line of sinister.tcl, replacing the "/usr/bin/" with the name of the directory where you keep your copy of wish.

History and Acknowledgements
Sinister was born in 2001, when I needed to get some data points from figures in papers in astronomy journals. For some papers, this can be done very easily through a Java tool called DEXTER, which I found on the NASA ADS website. Unfortunately, I was unable to use that tool for papers which were not provided on the ADS web site. Furthermore, I had just read a Tcl/Tk tutorial, and I wanted to try using it. So, I decided to write a Tcl/Tk version of DEXTER, which could be used locally on any file. And I choose the name Sinister because of a stupid joke: in the Milanese dialect "dester" (DEXTER) means "right-handed", while "sinister" means "left-handed". After some friend remarked that the joke soes not really work in english, I have even considered the hypotesis of changing to something like "Clumsy", but then sticked to my first choice.

The development of Sinister (and of this web page) is largely due to the encouragements and suggestions of Emanuele Bertone and Michela Mapelli.

Sinister is free software, distributed under the GNU General Public License.
This implies that you may freely distribute and copy the software. You may also modify it as you wish, and distribute these modified versions as long as you indicate prominently any changes you made in the original code, and as long as you leave the copyright notices, and the no-warranty notice intact. Please read the General Public License for more details. Note that I (the author) retain my copyright on the code.

If you like Sinister, or have some request about it (or even better, you made some very cool modification), I will be pleased if you send me an e-mail. I don't guarantee anything, especially if you will be asking for some change. But you never know. And I could even set up a mailing list for future updates.
My address is:
Emanuele Ripamonti,
Kapteyn Astronomical Institute
Postbus 800
9700AV Groningen
The Netherlands
E-mail: [email protected]

Last modified on October 12, 2005