How to use PGPLOT Graphics with Fortran95 on Windows®

Clive Page, 2012 June 19

0. Introduction

PGPLOT is a library of Fortran-callable routines for producing graphical output of many types including line drawings, images and contour maps.  It has particularly good facilities for making plots of scientific data, things like logarithmic axes and error-bars, and annotations can make use of exponential or sexagesimal number formats.  On suitable devices such an X-windows terminal it supports user-interaction via a pointing device such as a mouse.  PGPLOT was written by Tim Pearson, a radio-astronomer at CalTech, starting around 1983.  The package does not appear to have been updated in the last couple of years, but it is reliable, well-structured, well-documented, well-tested, and widely used in the scientific community.  Copyright in the source code is retained by the California Institute of Technology and the free usage licence covers non-commercial purposes only, but the source code can be downloaded freely.

Unfortunately PGPLOT is only moderately portable, because it is written in a mixture of languages and because some of the device drivers are operating system-specific.  Most of PGPLOT is written in Fortran77 (pretty much conforming to the Standard) but a few low-level routines and some device drivers are written in C.  The installation procedure is also complicated: it doesn't just involve building with a Make file.  It is necessary to select a set of suitable device drivers, from which the install script then creates a file called GREXEC.F, which is a device dispatcher written in Fortran77.  It also requires the font information to be converted from a text file to an unformatted (binary) file suitable for the Fortran compiler in use.  PGPLOT supports a large number of devices, most of them plotters found nowadays only in museums, but also output formats such as Postscript, GIF, and PNG.  Interactive graphics on Unix-like systems is possible using an X11 driver, but I could not get this to work under Windows, nor could I find adequate instructions anywhere for installing PGPLOT under Windows for use with a modern Fortran compiler.

My solution, outlined below, is to use the GrWin library written by Tsuguhiro Tamaribuchi of Shizuoka University in Japan.  GrWin is however distributed with pre-built libraries only for the obsolete g77 compiler, and my attempts to recompile the source code for use by g95 were not successful.  However I found a work-around which is described below.

1. Install the MinGW Package

MinGW is a minimal Gnu package for Microsoft Windows, i.e. it provides a basic set of GNU (Unix-like) tools services for the Windows environment.  The package can be found at  Under Navigation select Downloads, and on the line marked "Automated MinGW installation" select the download link, then select MinGW-5.1.4.exe (the version number may well have been updated by the time you read this).  You should select both the basic tools, and the g77 compiler (this is needed for a library that it includes).  I recommend installing the package into the default location, C:\MINGW

2. Install the g95 or gfortran Compiler

This may be found at from which you should select Downloads and then Binaries.  What you need is the item in the G95 BINARIES section called "Self-extracting Windows x86" - this may be downloaded by FTP or HTTP - there is not much difference but HTTP may be more resilient in the face of network problems.  After downloading the file run it to start the installation process.  In general it is safe to select the defaults, but if you try to install this in the default location it chooses for you, that is C:\FORTRAN, the installer should notice that you have an existing MinGW structure and give you the option of installing in C:\MINGW instead - this is the location that I recommend. 

You should now be able to use g95 to compile Fortran programs whether in the old fixed-format style (.f files) or new free-format style (.f90 or .f95 files) and it is probably a good idea to do a couple of tests to make sure the compiler is installed correctly.  These install scripts normally create or modify various environment variables such as PATH, LIBRARY_PATH, and G95_LIBRARY_PATH.

The g95 compiler is run from a command-window, which is well hidden by Microsoft.  If using Windows-XP you can find it it in Start | All Programs | Accessories. It can be found in similar places in later versions of Windows. If you are using g95 extensively it is worth dragging the icon to the desktop - the properties of this icon can then be altered to allow you to have some specified sub-directory (folder) as the default working directory when starting up the command window.  It is also possible to change the size of the command window.

Alternatively you may prefer the gfortran compiler which seems now to be ahead of g95.  This can be downloaded from

3. Installing the GrWin Package including PGPLOT

The main page for the package (in English) is - this has a link to the downloads page, from which you need to select  GrWinC-100e_MinGW_gfortran.msi or the equivalent for g95.  Note: I found that even though I was using a 64-bit version of Windows7, it was this version not the -x64 variant that worked for me.
After downloading this file run it to install the package.  The default location of C:\GrWin is fine, and you need to install the GrWin0 library and PGPLOT options, but not the Calcomp library (unless you really still have software that needs this library).  This installer installs the essential bits of PGPLOT in directory C:\GRWIN\PGPLOT, including a set of pgdemoN.f files.

The g77 compiler should have been installed along with the MinGW packages, so you should be able to use it to compile one of these pgdemoN files.  The one I usually try is pgdemo2.f but all should work.  Because some of the paths and environment variables may not have set up yet, you may need to change to work in the directory (folder) C:\MINGW\BIN to get this to work.  The commands needed to copy a file and compile and link it, and then run it are, for example (shown here in upper-case, but the lower-case equivalent would also work):
The program should prompt you for a device (or enter ? to get a list of them).  Choose /GW for a graphics window to appear with various PGPLOT test patterns - you have to press the Enter key in the command window to move to the next page of output.  The text annotation in these plots may well be missing because the GRFONT.DAT file is not in the right place (or possibly not in the right format).   The solution is to define an environment variable pointing to the directory where they are located.  This can be done temporarily (for the duration of a command window) with a command line this:
The way of making a permanent environment variable is also well hidden within Windows®.  You can find it as follows:  go to Start then Control Panel and then scroll down and select System.  When the System window appears select Advanced tab then click the Environment Variables button which should be found inconspicuously near the bottom left.  There are two sets of environment variables, one for you as the current user, and another for all users of the PC.  It does not matter which you use if you are the only user of the PC.  Click on NEW and then set PGPLOT_DIR as the Variable name, and C:\GRWIN\PGPLOT as the Variable value.  Then a set of OKs is needed to update the system and remove all the system windows.  If necessary you can download from here a precompiled version of grfont.dat and rgb.txt .

4. Using g95 with GrWin

The batch file used in the test above, PGGWF77.BAT, needs to be modified somewhat to use g95.  Since it only contains one vital line, I suggest you edit this or create a new one or download the one I made called PG95.BAT, using any good text editor (or even a really bad one such as WordPad which is all that comes with Windows).  The command file you need is:
g95 -Bstatic -fno-backslash -O -o %~n1 %1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9 -Wl,--subsystem,console -lcpgplot -lpgplot -lGrWin -mwindows -lg2c

Note: this may wrap around on your display, but is just one line. 

A few words of explanation about the items in this file:
If you find (as I did on one installation) that the linked failed because it could not find all the required libraries, you may need to edit the batch file to include an -L option such as -LC:\GrWin\MinGw_gfortran\lib - note that there is no space after the -L.
Thus you use it like this, note that the file extension is needed on the source files, but that .f, .f90, and .f95 are all accepted

5. Adding a GIF Driver

You may notice that the only hard-copy drivers are for Postscript files - this format, a forerunner of PDF, is widely used in the Unix/GNU/Linux world, but not common in the Windows environment (although the GSview program handles it fairly well).  File formats which are more common in the Windows world are PNG and GIF.  I have not managed to make the PNG driver available, but it is now possible to add GIF output format, using a bit of Fortran source-code which you can download, called addgif.f90 - simply add this to your program, e.g.
  pg95  yourprogram.f90 addgif.f90
This works with gfortran as well (using the pgfortran batch file).  The devices available are /GIF and /VGIF, the latter producing a .gif file in portrait orientation.  The default size of the gif images is 850 x 680 pixels (or 680 x 850 in portrait), but this can be changed by setting values for environment variables PGPLOT_GIF_WIDTH and PGPLOT_GIF_HEIGHT.  Note that there must be no spaces either side of the equals sign, e.g. you need a command like this:
To restore the defaults use the command with nothing after the equals sign.

The source-code for addgif.f90 is substantially modified from that in the PGPLOT distribution, as I could not get this to produce satisfactory results with g95 or gfortran (the Fortran77-vintage code necessarily included lots of non-standard features, no longer necessary with modern Fortran).  This file contains an updated device despatcher and GIF driver making use of the excellent GIF-writing software of Jos Bergervoet, to whom I am very grateful.

6. Using PGPLOT with gfortran

I have also produced a batch file called PGFORTRAN.BAT (only slightly different from pg95.bat) which works with the gfortran Fortran95 compiler.

7. Note on libg2c.a

I am grateful to Harry Lehto for uncovering the fact that there seems to be more than one version of the file libg2c.a in the MinGW distributions over the years, and that not all of them work with this PGPLOT system. A copy of one that seems to work (size 245922 bytes) is linked here as libg2c.a (since it is a binary file, right click and use "save as", then save the file in your MinGW library directory typically C:\MinGW\lib.