GMT Tidbits

Who developed GMT ?

GMT was created in 1988 and versions 1 through 4 were built and maintained by Paul Wessel and Walter H. F. Smith. GMT 5 was redesigned as a library by Paul Wessel, Walter H. F. Smith, Remko Scharroo, Joaquim Luis, and Florian Wobbe beginning in 2009. Additional input and contributions from users and developers around the world have also been instrumental. GMT has been supported by the National Science Foundation since 1993.

What operating systems does it run under ?

GMT can be installed under UNIX or UNIX-like systems (Linux, OSX, etc.) as well as Windows. Under Windows you could install MSYS/MinGW, which provides a free programming tool set and a collection of UNIX tools (shells, awk, grep) suitable for building a native GMT application. Another no-cost option is to install Cygwin which gives you a UNIX/POSIX environment on your PC in which GMT may be installed. We prefer invoking GMT from a UNIX environment instead of from a DOS batch file because many GMT tasks strongly depend on shell-builtins and access to UNIX tools such as awk, grep, sed, etc.

Does GMT have buttons and menus ?

No. As distributed, GMT is a scriptable command-line oriented package. This was a deliberate decision: A graphical user interface (GUI) would place limits on what can be done; in return it would make the system more user-friendly. We placed the premium on flexibility and performance; our experience has been that the command-line interface allows users to connect GMT modules to other custom programs and arrive at unique results. The combination of GMT and shell-scripting allows for very powerful programming and automation of repetitive tasks. However, GMT can easily be called from within a GUI. A few tools by third-party developers provide GUI access to GMT:

  • MIRONE A GUI developed in Matlab, its main purpose is to provide users with an easy-to-use graphical interface to manipulate GMT grids.
  • iGMT (interactive Mapping of Geoscientific Datasets) which is an interface built using the Tcl/Tk toolkit

Are there other packages that use GMT ?

  • For multi-beam enthusiasts, there is MB-System, a software package for the processing and display of swath sonar data.
  • Want to use GMT and other tools on your Windows computer but just cannot stomach Cygwin? Try Thorsten Becker's USC Geodynamics Earth Science Computing Environment UGESCE which is a complete VirtualBox Linux installation that contains SEATREE, iGMT, GMT, and a range of other Earth science software and datasets.
  • There are two python interfaces to GMT: PyGMT and GmtPy.

How about data sets that can be used with GMT ?

Lots of data from the US national data centers (IEDA, NEIC, NGDC) can be used with GMT, and they are all freely available from these centers and individuals via the internet. For Unix/OSX/Windows DVD-R compilations of several Gb of Earth and Ocean science data, see Geoware's GMT Companion DVD-R products. Much standard GIS vector data such as ESRI Shapefiles (points, lines, polygons) can be used with GMT by using ogr2ogr to convert to GMT format. Similarly, our GDAL import support allows grids and images readable by GDAL to be used directly in GMT.