How to Become Addicted to TikZ
Why not use language X instead of TikZ? because the following criteria are important:
- Drawing with TEX; (La)TeX-like approach
- Usability-Easy to use with pdfLaTeX
- One-step approach to adding graphics to a LATEX document
- Easy to extend
- Maintainable graphics in LaTeX
Why TikZ and not external programs such as Metapost or Asymptote?
These external programs will be left out from this site because they require the user to learn another language. TikZ requires the user to learn macros but with a (La)TeX-like approach.
TikZ is an extension of the standard picture environment with more performances but requires a less steep learning curve that Metapost or Asymptote.
Why TikZ and not Pstricks?
The usage of Tikz is similar to Pstricks and if you are using pdflatex to produce PDF files directly, the pgf package provides similar capabilities to Pstricks. The power of Pstricks is that Pstricks can use language Postscript thus necessitating the creation of a DVI file, then a PS file and finally you need to translate the last file in a PDF file. This method is not the easiest for a beginner to produce a PDF file.
PGF/TikZ has not the full power of PSTricks but when pdfLATEX acts as the typesetting engine, it is not possible to exploit the full power of the PSTricks package. TikZ works with plain (pdf-)TeX, (pdf-)LaTeX, ConTeXt and can produce either PostScript , PDF and SVG outputs.
PGF and TikZ
PGF is a macro package and provides a collection of low-level graphics primitives whereas TikZ is a high-level user interface PGF giving a TEX-like approach to graphics. TikZ is not a graphical Interface, you need to write some code to get a graphic. Drawing with TikZ is like drawing with TeX. TikZ works together with the most important TeX drivers, including pdftex and dvips and TikZ is the first language to match all the criteria.
A final comment:
If you have ever dreamed of becoming addicted to TikZ here's how you can do it and fast. Take the first step: Go to the next section "A Short Course". I encourage (pdf)LATEX users to experiment with the TikZ package, after a while they will become addicted!