Interactive ROOT

Look at one of your plots again and move the mouse across. You will notice that this is much more than a static picture, as the mouse pointer changes its shape when touching objects on the plot. When the mouse is over an object, a right-click opens a pull-down menu displaying in the top line the name of the ROOT class you are dealing with, e.g. TCanvas for the display window itself, TFrame for the frame of the plot, TAxis for the axes, TPaveText for the plot name. Depending on which plot you are investigating, menus for the ROOT classes TF1, TGraphErrors or TH1F will show up when a right-click is performed on the respective graphical representations. The menu items allow direct access to the members of the various classes, and you can even modify them, e.g. change colour and size of the axis ticks or labels, the function lines, marker types and so on. Try it!

Interactive ROOT panel for setting function parameters.

You will probably like the following: in the output produced by the example slits.C, right-click on the function line and select "SetLineAttributes", then left-click on "Set Parameters". This gives access to a panel allowing you to interactively change the parameters of the function, as shown in Figure 2.4. Change the slit width, or go from one to two and then three or more slits, just as you like. When clicking on "Apply", the function plot is updated to reflect the actual value of the parameters you have set.

Fit Panel.

Another very useful interactive tool is the FitPanel, available for the classes TGraphErrors and TH1F. Predefined fit functions can be selected from a pull-down menu, including "gaus", "expo" and "pol0" - "pol9" for Gaussian and exponential functions or polynomials of degree 0 to 9, respectively. In addition, user-defined functions using the same syntax as for functions with parameters are possible.

After setting the initial parameters, a fit of the selected function to the data of a graph or histogram can be performed and the result displayed on the plot. The fit panel is shown in Figure 2.5. The fit panel has a number of control options to select the fit method, fix or release individual parameters in the fit, to steer the level of output printed on the console, or to extract and display additional information like contour lines showing parameter correlations. As function fitting is of prime importance in any kind of data analysis, this topic will again show up later.

If you are satisfied with your plot, you probably want to save it. Just close all selector boxes you opened previously and select the menu item Save as... from the menu line of the window. It will pop up a file selector box to allow you to choose the format, file name and target directory to store the image. There is one very noticeable feature here: you can store a plot as a root macro! In this macro, you find the C++ representation of all methods and classes involved in generating the plot. This is a valuable source of information for your own macros, which you will hopefully write after having worked through this tutorial.

Using ROOT's interactive capabilities is useful for a first exploration of possibilities. Other ROOT classes you will encounter in this tutorial have such graphical interfaces. We will not comment further on this, just be aware of the existence of ROOT's interactive features and use them if you find them convenient. Some trial-and-error is certainly necessary to find your way through the huge number of menus and parameter settings.