A Quick Introduction to TGIF
Dr. Brian Fristensky
Department of Plant Science
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
Official TGIF Web site: http://bourbon.usc.edu:8001/tgif/
TGIF Manual Pages in HTML http://bourbon.usc.edu:8001/tgif/tgif.man.2.html
TGIF is a versatile but simple drawing program. As compared to Adobe Photoshop
or PowerPoint, TGIF focuses on letting you do simple things quickly and easily,
rather than making everything a sophisticated and complex process. After
using TGIF routinely for many years, I have found that probably 95% of the
time, the more elaborate programs were really overkill for the job I wanted
This guide is meant as a quick entry to using TGIF, not as an exhaustive
user manual. As I will illustrate below, one of the strengths of the
program is that it provides several displays that tell you what you can do
at each point. This guide assumes you've used other drawing programs previously.
Menu (varies from system to system).
Usually TGIF would be found under the headings 'Graphics' of 'Drawing'.
Command line. 'tgif' with no arguments
starts tgif with an empty file. 'tgif filename' opens the specified file
in tgif. TGIF files are automatically given the '.obj' extension.
The TGIF window
Main Menu - pull down menus that can
be opened using right or left mouse buttons.
Settings - Buttons tell the current settings
that will be used for an object being drawn. Settings include things like
the font, pitch size or text style, color, arrow style ets. Each button
is also a menu. To get the menu, hold down the middle mouse button. You can
also rotate throught the choices of any button by successively clicking on
Message Window - Gives messages during
processes such as saving or exporting a file.
Tool Bar - Click on any button in the
tool bar to choose the drawing mode. Arrow is the select mode; T is
text entry mode, the box is the box-drawing mode etc..
Canvas - The drawing area.
Mouse button functions - There are 3
windows, one for each button on the mouse. As you move the mouse over a menu,
button, or object, these windows will tell you what the mouse does in each
case. Think of these as equivalent to the little yellow hints that pop up
in many programs when you move the mouse over a part of a window.
The One Little Trick You Need to Know
In TGIF, you are always in one of several modes that you choose on the toolbar,
shown at left. At the top is the Select mode, that lets you select object
and do things to them. Next is the Text mode, that lets you add text, followed
by the Draw Box mode etc. To avoid confusion, you need to know that most
operations in TGIF consist of three basic steps.
1. Make sure you are in the Select Mode by clicking on the arrow button.
2. Select an object or objects. This can be done in any of three ways:
3. Perform an operation on the selected objects. For example, you can change
the attributes of all selected objects by changing any of the buttons on
the Settings menu.
- Clicking on a single object
- Select multiple objects by holding down the left mouse
button and drawing a box around the objects
- Select multiple objects by holding down the SHIFT key and clicking
on objects one at a time
The biggest common problem when first using TGIF is remembering that you
have to be in the Select mode to perform most operations other than drawing.
For example, if you're in the Draw polyspline (ie. draw line) mode
and you try to select an object, you will begin to draw a line, rather than
selecting an object. (The Mouse window will tell you that you can cancel
by clicking on the right or middle mouse buttons).
Once you know these tricks, TGIF is an easy program to use.
Exporting graphics to a file
TGIF thinks of printing and exporting as essentially the same thing ie. you
export by printing to a file. First, choose the file format for printing.
One way is by choosing 'File --> PrintExportFormat', or select the print
format from the Print Format Menu.
Next, choose 'File --> Print'. The progress of the export will be shown
in the Message window. The name of the output file will consist of the base
name of the current file (ie. minus the .obj extension) with an extension
indicating the format. For example, if the TGIF file was named 'schema_template.obj',
and you export as a GIF image, the ouput filename would be 'schema_template.gif'.
You can export to EPS (.eps), PostScript (.ps), X-bitmap (.xbm), EPSI
(.epsi), GIF (.gif), and HTML fomats. Some installations of TGIF also allow
PNG (.png) and JPEG formats (.jpg).
Printing to a printer
Okay, this one is more complicated than it needs to be. In Unix, you can
set a default printer destination by adding a line to your $HOME/.login file
setenv PRINTER bldgagric.plant_hp3si
To print to your default printer, set the Print Format Menu to show the printer
Next, choose 'File -->Print' and the file will be printed.
Alternatively, you can select the printer to print to using 'File -->
PrintWithCmd'. A dialog menu will pop up
You type the Unix print command to print to the printer of your choice. 'lpr'
would simply print to your default printer. 'lpr -Pbldgagric.plant_hp3si'
uses the -P option of the lpr command to send output to the printer named
For more details on the Unix lpr command, type 'man lpr' at the Unix command