WGU QLT1 Linux Graphing Tools

Quantitative Literacy (QLT1) requires you to demonstrate certain abilities by making graphs accompanied by text, and exporting them as a PDF. On Ubuntu this process can be a bit convoluted, but gets easier with practice.

The tutorial assumes you’ve already got openoffice.org installed, but if you’re somehow on a system without openoffice, you can install it using “sudo apt-get install openoffice.org”.

Prep:

– Install your tools: apt-get install dia inkscape

– Create your basic graph in Dia. It’s got the user-friendliness of MS Paint, but far more power. Dia won’t display the background grid in the finished product. I chose a 20×20 grid which proved sufficient for the assignments.

– Make sure “snap to grid” is turned on using the toggle at the bottom of your work pane. It’s easy enough to toggle on an as-needed basis for other drawings, but for creating the initial grid you’ll want it on.
– Create the x-axis by drawing a line from -11 to +11. Select the line, then right-click on it to give it the properties you’d like (such as arrowed ends, colors, size, etc).
– Create a y-axis the same way.
– Here’s the tedious part. Create grid lines (probably want to use a faint background-ish color for this part) by creating a -10 to +10 line, then copying and pasting repeatedly and dragging them into place.
– Select the axes and use Objects – Bring to Front from the menu to make sure the axes are over the top of the grid lines.
– Save your basic grid as a .dia file as you’ll be wanting to come back and add things.

– Populate the Dia diagrams per the assignment requirements.

– Open the basic graph (if it’s applicable) and create a new layer. The Layers dialogue goes front-to-back, so if the layer is higher up on the Layers list, it’s higher up in the drawing (i.e. closer to the front).
– Save yourself some heartache and un-toggle the button that makes the graph layer editable. Move your new layer to the top of the list, make sure it’s editable and visible, and give it an easy-to-remember label (such as the equation to be graphed).

– Save your finished graphic first as a .dia file (in case your mentor requires revisions), then use File – Export to export your work as an SVG file.

– Openoffice.org may or may not do a good job of importing your SVG. If the SVG imports with poor quality, use Inkscape to fix it.

– Open the SVG using Inkscape.
– Select the entire drawing, then select Transform from the Object menu. Under scale, set Width and Height to 200%, and make sure “Apply to each object separately” is unchecked. Click Apply.
– Save as a PNG file using File – Export Bitmap.
– The new file should be a bit better in Open Office.

– Save your Open Office document as an ODT first, in case the instructor requires revisions, then Export as PDF.

A few key points to remember along the way:
– Save an editable copy in the native format (.dia and .odt) in case you need to make edits later.
– Use the Shift key when resizing graphics so the resizing is proportional.
– Remember to open a terminal window running the “top” utility in the background so your girlfriend sees it alongside the grids and thinks you’re a super genius.
– I’m open to suggestions on ways to make this faster and simpler. Leave comments if you’ve got pointers.

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