Update 2022-10-07: This is a copy of the review of the first edition of the book, which was kindly made available by ACCU. The second edition was published in March 2016. According to the publishers, Manning Publications, the second edition is a major revision of the book. However, judging by the first edition, we can expect the new edition to be just as enjoyable.

Title:     Gnuplot in Action: Understanding Data with Graphs
Author:    Philipp K. Janert
Publisher: Manning Publications (2009)
Language:  English
ISBN-10:   1-933988-39-8
ISBN-13:   978-1-933988-39-9
Reviewer:  Fred Youhanaie

I have been using Gnuplot on and off since the early nineties. Due to its simple interface and the online help facility I was able to get by with all simple plotting tasks, so I never bothered with reading the manual, and as a result I never learned of its more advanced facilities. For complex tasks I would instead opt for alternative tools such as Cern’s ROOT software. This book, however, has changed all that, tipping the balance in favour of Gnuplot.

The four parts of the book, each with 3-5 chapters, take the reader from a very gentle introduction, to advanced Gnuplot topics, to graphical analysis techniques. All the chapters are well written, with plenty of good examples. The largest of the four parts, Advanced Gnuplot, has dedicated chapters for topics such as 3D plotting and colour, as well as methods for generating plots, and slideshows, using scripts.

The book is as much about Gnuplot commands and options as it is about its application to graphical data analysis, although for the latter the author also refers you to specialist books. With data driven computing (Big Data) getting more and more attention everyday, this book has its place on the data analyst’s bookshelf.

As with most Manning books, those who buy the printed copy of the book are automatically entitled to download the electronic e-book versions free of charge.